S’mores panna cotta: a plated dessert

This dessert came about two summers ago when I was really bored. And I mean REALLY bored. Although that summer, I learned how to do a lot of things, specifically in terms of plating beautiful desserts and tackling ingredients I have never used before. The inspiration for the dessert came from a couple different things. Watching MasterChef Australia season 7, when contestant Ashley prepared a dark chocolate and peppercorn panna cotta and another contestant, my personal role model, Reynold Poernomo, who made these meringue shards, and from Top Chef winner, Mei Lin’s winning dessert, which featured a milk and panko crumble.

For my s’mores panna cotta, I did a rich, dark chocolate panna cotta (it’s an Italian pudding made from milk and cream and set with gelatin), misugaru-panko crumble (misugaru is 7-grain blend popular in Korea), lemon curd, meringue shards, and a candied cacao nib and chocolate ganache quenelle. There’s just something so decadent about eating an entire quenelle of dark chocolate studded with crunchy cacao nibs and praline that I cannot stress enough. I dubbed this s’mores, because it was dark chocolate, a graham cracker-type deal (being the crumble), and marshmallow (in the form or meringue shards). I decorated my dessert with Bachelor’s button flowers because they are vibrant in color and just invoke a sense of nature, which you’d associate with s’mores and the summer and camping.

For the panna cotta:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoons gelatin + 1 tablespoon cold water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns; grounded

Mix the gelatin into the water and chill down. Combine dark chocolate, salt, peppercorns, heavy cream, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Add in the gelatin and allow it to melt down. Stir the two together, making sure that everything is one homogenous mixture, and then strain. Divide into four lightly oiled glasses and allow the panna cottas to set in the freezer for 1 hour.

For the lemon curd:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter; cold
a pinch of salt

Bring the lemon juice and zest to a simmer with the salt. In a bowl whip the sugar and egg yolk. Temper with the lemon juice and then transfer back into a pot and continue whisking on medium-high heat for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the butter; off heat, and then strain. Chill down completely before using for plating.

For the misugaru crumble:
1/4 cup misurgaru powder
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

In a pan, brown the butter with cinnamon and salt. Toast the panko, milk powder, and misugaru in the butter, and then drizzle in the honey, stirring the mixture constantly so that it will distribute evenly. Pour onto a paper towel to drain the excess butter.

For the meringue shards:
1 egg white
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Bachelor’s button flowers

Whip ingredients together until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Spread out thinly onto a nonstick baking surface, sprinkle on the flowers, and bake at 225 degrees F for 1 hour. Keep at room temperature for plating, but store in a dry airtight container so that the meringues do not soften.

For the ganache quenelle
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream
a pinch of salt
candied cacao nibs*

Melt down the chocolate on a double boiler. Add in the other ingredients. Chill down for 2 hours. Using two spoons, make quenelles out of the solidified ganache.

For the candied cacao nibs
1/4 cup cacao nibs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Heat the cacao nibs with melted butter in a pan for 1 minute, or until the aromas start to come out. Sprinkle in the sugar and continue stirring until it melts and coats each nib. Pour onto a parchment sheet and press with a paper towel to remove any excess oils. Chill down completely before using in the ganache.

To garnish:
Bachelor’s button flowers

Place the panna cotta glasses in warm water to help the panna cottas slide out easier.

For the plate, start with a trail of the crumble, then place the panna cotta on one side of the trail. Scoop your quenelle of ganache and place the meringue shards on the ganache quenelle. Do a swipe of the lemon curd on the panna cotta. Garnish the entire dish with flowers.

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  1. Pingback: S’mores gateau

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