Panna Cotta Alla Castagne

Chestnut Cream

Enoteca Faraoni, a rustic and jovial wine shop–wine bar in Livorno, is owned by sommelier Paolo Faraoni. The Faraoni family has been serving wine since the early 1900s, and today they carry over one thousand labels. One of their dessert specialties is panna cotta alla castagne, served with a sauce made from fresh persimmons. When persimmon season ends, you can be sure that no one complains if they offer the dessert with chocolate sauce, in the manner of monte bianco.

Chestnut purée is sold in cans. Some brands are sweetened and have a bit of vanilla added. Others are unsweetened, in which case you will probably need to add about ½ cup sugar. Chestnut purée labeled confettura di castagne is sold in jars as a spread for bread. It may be used in this recipe as well. If you use the confettura, you won’t need to add sugar.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • cups chestnut purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or to taste
  • ½ cup sugar, if chestnut purée is unsweetened
  • A few tablespoons dark rum, or to taste (optional)

Method

In a small cup, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand to soften for 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cream and milk in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Stir the softened gelatin into the warmed cream mixture until it dissolves. Whisk in the chestnut purée and vanilla. Add the sugar and the rum to taste, if using. (If the chestnut purée is very stiff, pulse it in a food processor with the warmed cream mixture.)

Pour into 8 custard cups or lightly oiled metal molds. Cover and refrigerate until firm, 4 hours or overnight. Unmold onto small plates and serve with persimmon purée or chocolate sauce (following).

Salsa di cacchi Persimmon Sauce

Peel and seed 4 to 6 ripe Hachiya persimmons. Place in a blender or food processor with fresh orange juice and sugar to taste and some ground cinnamon, if you like. Process until smooth.

Salsa di cioccolata Chocolate Sauce

Combine 8 ounces semisweet chocolate and ¾ cup light cream in a saucepan. Place over very low heat to melt, then whisk until smooth.