Pear Panna Cotta Cake

Pear Panna Cotta Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

When I was growing up my paternal grandmother made a dessert she called “Swedish Cream” on Christmas day. It was rich beyond imagining (at least when I was a child) and its arrival meant the festivities were coming to a close, because we’d all slip into a Christmas Swedish Cream dream state and the adults dozing off usually followed. Much, much later in life, while at culinary school, I realized it was a sour cream panna cotta that she’d been making all those years. My Pear Panna Cotta Cake is inspired by my Granny’s dessert, but I went a little pastry chef with it. I combined Swedish Cream with a poached pear puree and then topped it with a layer of the poaching liquid delicately set into a Jelly with gelatin and put it on a base of almond joconde sponge cake. The dessert is multiple layers and it takes a wee bit of time, but it is actually super easy to make. You can also stop with one or two layers if that’s all time allows. To decorate the sides I sliced pears on a mandoline and dried them in the oven, which couldn’t be easier and they look so stunning. In her memory I will carry on my Granny’s tradition of ending the holiday meal with a smooth, rich, delicate Pear Panna Cotta Cake. 

You can watch me make the Pear Panna Cotta Cake in my instagram video

Pear Panna Cotta Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François
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Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)

Blackberry Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiyot) in a loaf pan with parchment paper

Amber Wilson’s cookbook, For the Love of the South is a delight. It is one of the most strikingly beautiful books I’ve seen recently. The photography and recipes are romantic, sultry, so Southern, and yet, they are entirely approachable.

When I first flipped through the pages, I wanted to make everything, but these jelly doughnuts grabbed me the most. I adore a great doughnut and she delivers. Her dough is scented with lemon zest, then filled with blackberry preserves, but there are a number of other homemade fillings to choose from. I’ve since made these doughnuts several times and filled them with everything from pastry cream (vanilla and coconut), lemon curd, whipped milk chocolate mascarpone, and coated them in ganache, all from my Zoë Bakes Cakes book. So, I turned them into the cake they were meant to be! 😉

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Strawberry Charlotte Royale

Strawberry Charlotte Royale | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

The truth is the last time I made a Strawberry Charlotte Royale was in culinary school and that was a very long time ago. I have been meaning to make one, but just never got around to it. Then I bought a copy of Soulful Baker, by one of my favorite bakers, Julie Jones, and she had the most beautiful Charlotte Royale in the book. I took it as a sign that I needed to make this regal (it’s in the name) dessert. Julie was my muse, but being incapable of leaving things well enough alone, I wanted to make the filling in two separate flavors. I made a Grand Marnier Bavarian Cream and then added Strawberry coulis to it for the second layer. The steps are not at all difficult, but they do require a bit of planning and some timing.

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Grapefruit Posset with Campari Gelee

Grapefruit Posset | Zoebakes 07

This is a grapefruit Posset. It has been around for a very long time, but chances are you’ve never heard of it. It is like a perfectly executed panna cotta, in texture and taste, but it is made without the gelatin. There is no fear that you will end up with creamy jello because you added too much gelatin. As a result you have to serve it in a cup because it’s so perfectly soft and it can’t hold its shape if inverted onto a plate. I’m smitten with this dessert and believe in my heart of hearts that it will become the next big thing in restaurants. Well, it should be at least.

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