Here’s another great way to enjoy that mysterious, indigenous American fruit no one but culinary nerds has heard of: the paw-paw a.k.a Kentucky Custard Apple. Depending on the species, the flesh could be yellow, orange, white, or a shade in between. Their flavor is variable too, but always evokes two things to me: bananas and mangoes.
I love these, and have been trying to figure out a way to get a paw paw something on the menu, but it’s difficult when the fresh season is fleeting and expensive. Did I mention I only know of one purveyor in the entire United States, too? All the more reason I must have them.
Margins will still be tight, but by using some frozen paw-paw puree (it freezes great) you can make a really great panna cotta. There’s a special reason a panna cotta is a great thing to make out of this stuff: since paw paw reacts negatively to heat, cooking it will change it’s perfume and enhance bitterness. With a panna cotta, you can make the base, cool it to room temperature, and then puree in the paw-paw so it isn’t exposed to heat. That being said, you can do the same with ice cream, or a chilled mousse too.
Paw Paw Panna Cotta
- 1 lb paw paw flesh
- ½ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons
- 3 sheets leaf gelatin
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Dash of fresh lime juice
- Gently warm the cream and sugar, whisking until the sugar is melted. Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin until soft in ice water, then squeeze the water out. Puree the warm cream with the paw paw flesh and the gelatin, then pass through a strainer and mix in the lime juice. Ladle the mixture into 4 ounce ramekins and refrigerate overnight until set.