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Makes 8 regular (4-ounce) servings or 16 mini (2-ounce) servings

You can make the panna cotta up to five days in advance — just keep it tightly wrapped with plastic. The caramel sauce also can be prepared up to a week beforehand, making it the perfect dessert for a busy holiday schedule.

1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons water

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1 cup cream

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup sour cream

¾ cup mascarpone

1 cup pumpkin purée (pure pumpkin, not pre-seasoned pie filling)

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup holiday ale caramel sauce (see accompanying recipe)

Sea salt for sprinkling

1. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Soak until the gelatin is soft, then microwave on high power for only about 2 seconds, or until the gelatin is melted but not foaming up.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream, sugar, sour cream, mascarpone, pumpkin, vanilla and spices. Add the gelatin and whisk together well.

3. Place the mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, being sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until smooth and hot (150 to 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

4. Remove from the heat and divide the mixture evenly among eight regular or 16 mini martini glasses (or eight custard or 16 espresso cups). Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic does not touch the panna cotta. Refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours to set.

5. To serve: Drizzle each panna cotta with ale caramel sauce (1 tablespoon for the minis or 2 for the larger portions), and then sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Chef’s note:If making the ale caramel sauce is too much for your schedule, then substitute with a speed scratch sea salt caramel sauce; mix ½ cup purchased high-quality caramel sauce with ¼-½ teaspoon sea salt, depending upon how salty you like it.

Holiday Ale Caramel Sauce

If made ahead, cool completely and store refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to serve. The recipe makes more than you’ll need for the panna cotta; extra sauce can be drizzled on ice cream, pound cake or other desserts.

Makes two cups

1 (12-ounce) bottle pumpkin ale or other seasonal beer, such as Pike Brewing Co. Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale

1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium-large saucepan, bring the ale to a low boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to ½ cup. Remove from heat, add the brown sugar and stir to dissolve.

2. Bring mixture to a boil and cook without stirring (stir or swirl the pan only if necessary to prevent boiling over) for about 10 to 15 minutes, until thick and syrupy (about 230 degrees on a candy thermometer).

3. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream and butter (it may splatter!), and then cook for 5 to 6 minutes more, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. If serving right away, cool until just warm; it will thicken up more as it cools. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

© Kathy Casey Food Studios® —

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