Tarragon Panna Cotta with Pear Caramel

Menu Part: 
Cuisine Type: 
8 servings

With its licorice-like flavor, fresh tarragon marries particularly well with creamy, slightly sweet panna cotta. With the sweet, juicy, textural contrast of caramelized pears and pear caramel, Chef Dolich creates a dessert that’s a fitting addition to fall menus.


Panna Cotta:
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin (half a 1/4 oz. packet)
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh tarragon leaves (1/4 oz.)

Pear Caramel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
6 tbs. heavy cream
2 tbs. pear brandy

Caramelized Pears:
4 firm Bartlett pears
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter


1. For Panna Cotta: Lightly wipe eight 2-oz. size ceramic or metal soufflé cups with vegetable oil.

2. In med. saucepan over med. heat, bring cream, milk, sugar and lemon zest just to a simmer.

3. Soften gelatin in 2 tbsp. cold water. Remove milk mixture from heat and stir in gelatin and tarragon. Let stand for 5 min.

4. Strain mixture through a wire mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove tarragon leaves. Pour into prepared cups and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hr.

5. For Pear Caramel: In small, heavy saucepan, heat sugar, cream of tartar and 1 tbsp. water until sugar is deep amber color. Stir periodically with a fork or swirl pan to cook evenly.

6. Immediately remove from heat and slowly pour cream down side of saucepan (caramel will bubble up and clump). Stir until caramel is smooth. Stir in brandy. Cool, then refrigerate until thickened. (Makes about 2/3 cup.)

7. For Caramelized Pears: Peel, core and cut pears into 1/4-in. thick wedges. Combine pears, sugar and butter in wide skillet. Cook and stir gently over med. heat until pears are lightly caramelized and tender, about 8 min. Spread on a platter to cool.

8. To serve, drizzle about 1 tbsp. caramel sauce on each dessert plate. Briefly dip panna cotta cups in warm water. Run the tip of a wet knife around edge of cups and invert onto prepared dessert plates. Divide pear slices between servings and serve immediately.

Recipe by Chef Scott Dolich, Park Kitchen, Portland, Ore. Recipe courtesy of USA Pears 

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