Find my heaven: a plated dessert

I really wanted to try branching out and doing new things this year, be it with techniques or plating. The dessert itself is inspired by me just trying to find my happy place in the kitchen, and obviously, that’s through baking and cooking with Asian-fusion influences. So I went with a hojicha panna cotta with brown rice milk foam, gel, yuzu-macerated shaved apples, and puffed mochi. I really wanted to capture rice and milk tea, two things that I grew up with, and contrasting that with the fresh, sharpness of an apple. I knew that I needed to do different textures of rice, so I came up with the puffed mochi as that solution, just so that I can include a baked element. Fun fact, the dessert is actually gluten-free! For the rice milk, I really love how you can make milk from rice, and I wanted to showcase it in a gelee, foam, and in the panna cotta, just to really embrace the usage of it. For me, this dessert represents me constantly trying to find my grounding and try new things in the kitchen. I feel like if I tried making this dessert a year ago, I would’ve made puffed rice and shaved apple “rosettes” or ribbons to garnish this instead. But I didn’t really want to go that route. I really just wanted to try new things.

Makes enough for two servings:
For the brown rice milk:
1 1/4 cups toasted brown rice
3 1/4 cups warm water
a pinch of salt

Combine water, rice, and salt, and simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Transfer to a blender and blitz for 3 minutes. Pass through a sieve lined with a cheesecloth and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible.

For the hojicha panna cotta:
1 cup brown rice milk
1 teaspoon gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon brown rice milk
1/4 cup kuromitsu
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt ingredients together. Pour into two bowls and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until the panna is just set, but still wobbly.

For the puffed mochi:
2 tablespoons mochiko
2 tablespoons brown rice milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt

Bring rice milk and canola oil to a simmer. Stir in the mochiko first and then take off heat and allow the dough to cool. Whisk in the egg yolk and transfer to a piping bag. Pipe thin lines of the dough onto a lined sheet tray and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Chop up the “sticks” of baked dough into smaller pieces.

For the rice gel:
1/2 cup brown rice milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Simmer down the ingredients together until the milk goes starchy and thick. Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate.

For the rice foam:
1/2 cup brown rice milk
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon egg white powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat up the brown rice milk. Pour into a blender with the other ingredients and puree until light and foamy.

For the shaved apples:
1 opal apple
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons yuzu juice

Peel and shave the apple on the second setting of a mandolin. Cut into 1/4 inch by 1/8 inch pieces. Toss with the other ingredients.

To plate:
Edible flowers

Start with your crumble, then pipe a line at an angle along the curvature of the bowl. Garnish with your apple slices and the edible flowers, and finish with your foam right before serving so that it doesn’t completely dissolve.

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