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Tri-Layer Panna Cotta

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Recipe by Food & Wine 2012 Best New Pastry Chef, Stella Parks.

Yield: 6 servings
Difficulty: Advanced

Method Overview

Make pistachio brittle for gianduja, make panna cotta base and begin 1st layer. Finish gianduja while 1st layer sets, refrigerate minimum 45 minutes. Add 2nd layer. Make caramel while 2nd layer sets (1 hour minimum due to depth). After finishing caramel, add 3rd panna cotta layer. Continue refrigerating 4 hours to fully set. Brûlée bananas à la minute.

White Chocolate Pistachio Gianduja

Yield: 6, 2 oz. portions
Equipment: 1 sheet pan, small pot, heat resistant spatula, candy thermometer, food processor (4 cup capacity OK), pan spray

Notes: The gianduja may be plated as a sauce, crumble, or molded candy depending on whether or not it is refrigerated or molded. The refrigerated gianduja can be shaped like putty (either with molds or rolled into ropes, pictured), scooped into tiny balls or broken into crumbles. Can be made in advance.

1.75 ounces water
1.5 ounces corn syrup
3.5 ounces sugar
2.5 ounces pistachios, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces GODIVA white chocolate with vanilla bean, melted and cooled
1.25 ounces pistachio oil
optional: green food coloring

1. Lightly grease a sheet pan with pan spray, or use a silicon mat, and set aside.

2. Combine water, corn syrup and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Stir gently with a heat resistant spatula, taking care not to splash, until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture starts to boil, stop stirring and let it carry on, undisturbed until it takes on a foxy golden color; about 300° on a candy thermometer.

3. Shut off the heat, add in the toasted pistachios and stir to coat. Pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, spreading into an even layer. Cool completely before proceeding. (The caramel coated pot can be used, without washing, to make the panna cotta base while the brittle is cooling.)

4. When the brittle has cooled completely, break it into chunks and transfer to a food processor along with the salt. Pulse until the mixture has been reduced to a fine powder. Then, with the processor running, add in the melted white chocolate and pistachio oil. Continue processing until homogenous. If desired, add in a few drops of liquid food coloring or a small amount of gel paste to tint the mixture to a pistachio green (counteracting the brown color from caramelization).

5. If to be used as a sauce or spread, store at room temperature. If to be used as a candy, refrigerate. The refrigerated gianduja has a malleable texture and can be scooped like ice cream with a mellon baller. The gianduja will keep indefinitely.

Tri-Layer Panna Cotta

Yield: 6, 3 oz. portions
Equipment: fork, small pot, spatula, small whisk, three microwave safe bowls (8 oz capacity. Cereal bowls work well), pan spray, six 3 ounce portion cups

Notes: The total weight of the ingredients does not add up to the number of ounces used for the three layers due to “pour” loss; the coating of the mixture left in the pot and on the bowls, etc.

2 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
7.5 ounces whole milk, divided
7.75 ounces cream
4.5 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 ounces GODIVA white chocolate with vanilla bean, chopped
3/4 ounces GODIVA 31% milk chocolate, chopped
3/4 ounces GODIVA 85% dark chocolate, chopped

1. In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and 1/2 ounce milk. Whisk with a fork to ensure no lumps remain. Set aside.

2. In a small pot, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar and salt. Place over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and the dairy begins to bubble.

3. Meanwhile, place the three chocolates into three separate bowls. Microwave each in a few 8 second bursts until fully melted. Set aside.

4. Once the pot of milk and cream has begun to simmer, remove from heat and whisk in gelatin.

5. Carefully pour about once once of the base into the bowl of dark chocolate. Whisk gently with a fork until homogenous. Pour in another 6 ounces of the base and whisk until smooth (7 ounces total). Set aside.

6. Likewise, pour about an ounce of the base into the bowl of milk chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add in another 5 ounces (6 ounces total). Set aside.

7. Pour in an ounce of base into the white chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Pour in another 3 ounces of base and whisk until smooth. If any panna cotta base is left over in the pot, divide it evenly between the three mixtures and whisk gently to combine.

8. Set out six 3 ounce juice glasses or plastic drinking cups (like Dixie) and grease lightly with pan spray. Alternately, the panna cotta can be prepared in champagne flutes, which do not need to be greased.

9. Pour 3/4 ounce of the white chocolate base into each cup. Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or until the panna cotta has set up enough to no longer be tacky to the touch.

10. When the first layer has set, whisk the milk chocolate mixture vigorously to break up any lumps or skin that has formed. Pour an ounce of milk chocolate base into each cup. Refrigerate an hour until likewise set. As before, whisk the dark chocolate layer vigorously to break up any lumps or skin. Pour 1 1/4 ounces of dark chocolate panna cotta base into each cup.

11. Refrigerate another 4 hours to ensure a full set before unmolding. The finished panna cotta will keep, refrigerated, up to ten days.

12. To unmold, invert the cups over a dessert plate. Use your index finger to gently pull the panna cotta away from the side of the glass; once a little air slips in between the panna cotta and the glass, the entire panna cotta should slide out easily. Note: If using champagne flutes, unmolding obviously not required.

Milk Chocolate Rooibos Caramel

Yield: 1 cup
Equipment: small sieve, small heavy bottomed pot, heat resistant spatula, whisk

1.5 ounces boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons loose leaf rooibos
4 ounces sugar
3 ounces heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 ounces GODIVA 31% milk chocolate

1. In a small bowl or mug, pour the hot water over the rooibos and steep for 8 minutes. Strain the liquid and discard the leaves when finished.

2. In a small pot set over medium heat, sprinkle a few tablespoons of sugar in an even layer and allow them to melt, undisturbed. Sprinkle in the sugar a little at a time, letting each batch liquify before adding the next. If the mixture begins to burn in any place, shake or swirl the pan to redistribute the sugar.

3. Once the sugar has all liquified, add in half the cream. Take care as the mixture will steam vigorously. Stir gently with a spatula, then add in the remaining cream as well as the salt. Stir gently until the cream is absorbed. Next, add in the rooibos tea. Continue stirring and cooking until any lumps of caramel have dissolved and the caramel is smooth.

4. Strain if necessary. Whisk in the milk chocolate. Store at room temperature for up to a week, or refrigerated for two weeks.

Banana Brûlée

Equipment: sheet pan, aluminum foil, knife, blowtorch

2 Bananas (one may be sufficient if it’s very large; only 6 pieces are needed)
6 tablespoons sugar

1. Line the sheet pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

2. Peel the bananas and trim off the ends. Split each in half lengthways, then cut each piece in two (a very large banana-half may be cut into 3 pieces).

3. Place the banana pieces on the sheet pan. Sprinkle each banana piece with a tablespoon of sugar and use the blowtorch melt and then brûlée the sugar. Alternately, the bananas may be placed a few inches under a broiler to brûlée. Serve immediately.