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Recipe: Saffron panna cotta pots and poached pears

A marriage of Bettina Campolucci Bordi’s favourite spice with her favourite dessert

Saffron is one of my favourite spices and panna cotta is one of my all-time favourite desserts, says Bettina Campolucci Bordi. So why not marry those two together? The poached pear cuts through the creaminess and adds an additional layer of colour.

Ingredients: makes 6 small or 4 large servings 

For the poached pears

  • 2 pears, peeled 
  • poaching liquid (either water or white wine) 
  • juice of 1 lemon 
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar 
  • ½ a beetroot, peeled and diced, or 1 tbsp beetroot powder 

For the panna cotta

  • 1 litre coconut milk 
  • 1 vanilla pod, split, and the seeds scraped out, or 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract 
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup 
  • pinch of saffron 
  • 2 tbsp agar agar
Method 
  • Put the pears in a small saucepan and just cover with poaching liquid. Add the lemon juice, sugar and diced beetroot (the beetroot is purely to give the pears a lovely pink colour once they are cooked).
  • Simmer for 30 minutes and allow to cool. Quarter the pears lengthways and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. You could leave them in the poaching liquid overnight.
  • To make the panna cotta, pour the coconut milk into a pan and heat gently. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and saffron. Then sprinkle the agar agar on top of the liquid and heat through without stirring. Get it to a simmer, and whisking, let the agar agar dissolve fully.
  • Once the mixture has come to a boil, remove from the heat. Pour the panna cotta mixture into serving glasses and set aside to cool. Once cooled, place in the fridge to set for a few hours.
  • Just before serving, place the poached pears on top of each panna cotta and sprinkle with toasted nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Or you can use edible flowers: some possible options are cornflowers, nasturtiums and violets.
  • Cook’s tip: make this delicious dessert in the morning or even the day before, so it’s ready to serve in the evening.
Celebrate: Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

Taken from Celebrate: Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion by Bettina Campolucci Bordi, published by Hardie Grant at £20. To buy from The Week Bookshop for £15.99, call 020-3176 3835 or visit theweekbookshop.co.uk

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