Saffron roasted pears with verjuice panna cotta

Serves: 6

Seasons: Late January to end of May

Cooking Time: N/A


  • 90 gms Caster Sugar
  • 375 mls Verjuice
  • 375 mls water
  • ¾ cup Medium dry Sherry
  • 12 Saffron Threads
  • 7 small Pears; (6 peeled cored and halved, plus 1 extra pear roughly chopped)
  • 15 mls extra verjuice to drizzle over peeled pears

Verjuice Panna Cotta

  • 360 mls Verjuice
  • 400mls Pure Cream
  • ½ cup (125mls) Milk
  • ¼ cup (55g) Castor Sugar
  • 2x2g gold strength gelatin leaves

Recipe by Maggie Beer


To make the verjuice panna cotta, place the verjuice in a small sauce pan and bring to the boil over a high heat.

Simmer for 12 to 14 minutes or until reduced to 100mls.

Set aside to cool.

Place the cream, milk & sugar in a small saucepan and bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat immediately.

Soften the gelatin in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes and squeeze dry. Add the gelatin to the hot cream mixture and stir well, then set aside to cool for 10 minutes (should register 50c on a sugar thermometer). Add the reduced verjuice, stirring to mix well.

Divide the mixture among 6 x 100ml moulds. Transfer to a baking tray, cover well with cling flim and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until set (over night is best, if you have the time).

To cook the pears, place the sugar, verjuice, sherry, saffron and water in a wide based saucepan just large enough to accommodate the pears, then bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, add the chopped pear and peelings of the 6 pears and cover with a tight fitting lid and gently boil for 20 minutes till it becomes syrupy without reducing the volume too much.

Gently slip the whole pears into the syrup, then cover with a round of baking paper and the lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a skewer. The ripeness of the pears will have a huge impact on this timing

Leave the pears to cool for 10 minutes in the syrup, then carefully transfer to a plate. Strain the syrup through a fine meshed sieve into a saucepan and discard the solids, then bring the syrup to the boil over a high heat and simmer until it has reduced by half.

Transfer 1 cup (250mls) syrup to a small sauce pan (reserving the remaining syrup for serving), then simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until reduced to a thick honey like consistency.

Pre heat a fan forced oven to 220c.

When the pears are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways. Place the pears cut side up on a baking tray. Using a pastry brush, coat each pear with a little of the reduced syrup, then roast, brushing the pears with the reduced syrup every 10 minutes for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are a wonderfully deep golden brown colour, taking care that they don’t burn.

To turn out the panna cotta, use your fingertip to gently press around the edge to break the seal. Quickly invert each mould onto a serving plate and the panna cotta should drop out.

Divide the saffron roasted pears among the plates, spoon over of the reserved syrup, then serve.