This is pretty much my most ambitious recipe yet with a number of components to make and finally assemble into the completed dish. It came about as a result of a number of hankerings of mine:
The use of fruit vinegar in a dessert. I’d tasted Wormersley fruit vinegars at a food show and was utterly blown away by them. Fruity, tart and utterly delicious these vinegars are well deserved of their awards and of a place in anyone’s pantry. I’d always envisioned using them in some kind of brownie dish with the cheek-puckeringly beauty of the vinegar serving to foil the richness of the brownie. But on developing this recipe I knew the panna cotta would provide a great canvas on which to highlight the vinegar’s pudding pimping properties.
The use of a smoking gun. My latest kitchen toy that I was itching to be use and this was more than a convenient excuse. I had never used one before and was intrigued as to how well actual smoke would work with a sweet dish. Suffice to say I was not disappointed. Whilst it’s not necessary to the overall dish it does lend an extra “Wow factor” and an interesting talking point. A word to the wise though. It only needs a short space of time for smoking (2-3 mins) and if you do decide to use it make sure you turn your smoke alarm off! I learned this the hard way – #RookieFail. As small as the amount of smoking chips used are, they still produce a heck of a LOT of smoke from the gun. Use it sparingly and near an open window is my advice.
The use of Sriracha hot sauce. Yes the very same condiment that seems to set Buzzfeed alight had been my carving for a long time. I’d just about used it in every savory application from dim sum to fries, to cold cuts and bacon- the one thing that had alluded me had been a sweet use. To be perfectly I can’t explain why but in my head the pairing of sweet cinder toffee (otherwise known as honeycomb or hokey pokey) and tongue-tingling heat of the sauce made sense. By now you probably know there’s nothing I like better than taking two extreme, opposite flavours and “smashing” them together to see what results from the gustatory debris. Here is another perfect example.
Whilst it may take some time to make and finally assemble, the completed dish is definitely a show-stopper and one that I’m indeed very proud of. There’s a wonderful array of textures and flavours at play in this dish- sweet, sharp, smooth and crispy. It’s wonderful example of just how much I like flavour experimenation in the kitchen and for me takes my “Falvour Maths” to the next level.
Sunflower or Corn oil for greasing
200g Green and Blacks dark chocolate
2 leaves of gelatine
190ml fl oz whole milk
250ml oz double cream
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey vanilla extract
1 large dried Ancho chilli
Sriracha Cinder Toffee
200g caster sugar
4 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Fenugreek Oat Clusters
200g Jumbo rolled oats
250g quick oats
375g chopped roasted nuts
3 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
175g dark brown sugar
8 tablespoon honey
8 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Womersely Raspberry Vinegar
5 teaspoons bee pollen
Smoking gun with wood-chips (optional)
Equipment of Note
5 ramekin dishes (150ml apx capacity)
20cm square Silicone baking tray
Lipped baking tray
Food Smoking Gun (optional)
To make the panna cotta
- Lightly oil five ramekin dishes (appx 150ml capacity) with the sunflower or corn oil.
- Roughly chop the chocolate, and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, don’t let the base of the bowel touch the water.
- Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
- Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
- Place the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract and Ancho chilli in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and leave to infuse.
- After 5 minutes pass the liquid through a sieve and squeeze the soaked chilli on to the melted chocolate. Stir well to combine.
- Squeeze the gelatine to remove the excess water and add to the mixture, stirring as you do so. Make sure all the gelatin has been dissolved.
- Pour into the oiled ramekins and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
To make the cinder toffee
- Mix the caster sugar, syrup and sriracha sauce deep saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Don’t let the mixture bubble until the sugar grains have disappeared.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat a little and simmer until you have a deep amber coloured caramel.
- Turn of the hat and tip in the bicarbonate and beat in with a wooden spoon until it has all disappeared and the mixture is foaming.
- Scrape into the silicone immediately but be careful as the mixture will be very hot and may still be bubbling.
- Leave the mixture in a safe place to rest about 1 hr- 1 hr 30mins, by which time the cinder toffee will be hard and ready to break into pieces.
- (This recipe makes more than need for this dish but the finished cinder toffee can be kept in an airtight container and used for dessert/ cake decoration or even as a treat!
To make the fenugreek clusters
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the jumbo oats, quick oats, nuts, cinnamon and fenugreek seeds.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, maple syrup and water and heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract.
- Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
- Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet oiled with sunflower oil and press it down.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool, then using a spoon or spatula break up the oat mixture into clumps. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on the tray then break it up into clusters.
- (Again this recipe makes more than needed for this recipe but the finished clusters can be stored in an airtight container and used as a granola substitute.)
To assemble and complete the dish
- To serve, place the ramekins into warm water )just up to the top) for 1 minute then quickly remove and invert out on to chilled plates. If the panna cotta doesn’t come out return to the warm water for a few seconds and repeat.
- Top the each panna cotta with fresh raspberries and sprinkle a teaspoon of bee pollen over each.
- Drizzle around each panna cotta with raspberry vinegar, and sprinkle around with a mixture of cinder toffee pieces and fenugreek clusters.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Optional: For a final touch before just before serving, place the complete dish underneath a bell cloche and insert the hose of a smoke gun. Ignite the smoke gun and inject flavoured smoke to fill the chamber, leave for 2-3 mins, remove dish and serve. (PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT USE IN AREAS WITH A SMOKE ALARM!)