Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chocolate Panna Cotta, Banana, Many Textures of Peanut Butter

This week's challenge from Chefsteps was a sous vide dessert.  I thought about banana cream pie, but got beat to the punch when someone else made a killer rendition first.  I wasn't really sure what to do, but Jamie suggested Peanut Butter Cups.  Seemed like a good enough idea: chocolate, peanut butter, pretty delicious combination.

I played around with the idea.  I thought I'd flip it, and surround the chocolate with peanut butter.  Also, throw some bananas into the mix as an homage to the banana cream pie that wasn't.  And bananas go well with chocolate and peanut butter.

I started with chocolate panna cotta.  Panna cotta is my new go to because it's easy and works as well sweet as it does savory.  This time, I wanted it to be intensely chocolate.  I cooked the cream and blended in enough chocolate to get the nice rich chocolate look I was going for.  Then, I blended in about that much chocolate again.  300 g total chocolate, to about 600 g of cream / half and half.  It seemed about right, so I added gelatin, and poured into plastic cups to set.  It was amazingly chocolately.  I licked the warm remnants from the pan. 

Next I started on the peanut butter.  Rather than run of the mill creamy, stick to the roof of your mouth PB, I wanted to play around with texture.  I thought many different textures all based on peanut butter would be interesting.  I came up with 9 different possibilities but that seemed like a lot, so I whittled those down to 5.  I'd made Powdered Peanut Butter before so that was easy.  I also figured I'd do a microwave Peanut Butter Sponge Cake a la Ferran.  Then Peanut Butter Ice Cream seemed like a good idea.  I used one of Jeni's splendid recipes and it was ultra creamy and delicious.  Then I found Thomas Keller's recipe for a Peanut Sablé, which without the accent is a type of weasel, but with the proper accent becomes shortbread.  The biscuit was good with rich buttery, salty, peanut flavor.  I should've rolled it a little thinner, but it worked pretty well.  And finally, I figured I'd do a Peanut Butter Sabayon.  Which is the French version of the Italian whipped custard dessert Zabaione, only with peanut butter.  As far as I could tell, no recipe exists for a peanut butter sabayon.  I adapted the Modernist Cuisine at Home recipe with a big scoop of peanut butter.  It was rich and delicious, yet airy and light and still warm when served.  Even with three N2O charges though, the foam didn't quite hold.    

I thought I'd caramelize the bananas, then decided I wanted a little more fruit, so I also poached some bananas in a bit of honey and cinnamon.  That's a good combination.  Banana, honey, cinnamon.  Put it in a ziploc bag, squeeze out the air, and throw in a 60C bath for about 20 minutes.  Yum.
Chocolate Panna Cotta, Banana, Many Textures of Peanut Butter

Chocolate Panna Cotta is in the center topped with Peanut Sablé.

12:00: Powdered Peanut Butter
02:00: Peanut Butter Ice Cream on a bed of shaved Chocolate
04:00: Cinnamon Honey Sous Vide Poached Banana
05:00: Peanut Butter Sponge Cake
07:00: Caramelized Banana
10:00: Peanut Butter Sabayon (sous vide)

The plating ended up a little messy, but I think the overall effect worked out ok.

Oh yeah, and I was picked as one of the winner's of the challenge!  Check it out.  And look at Chris Koller's Raspberry Chocolate Gateau.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  Obviously I need to work on my presentation skills.

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