Chris Cosentino is one of my culinary heroes. His restaurant, Incanto, introduced me to the wonder of duck head, pig trotters, and all things offal. This recipe is based on his with the addition of Lindemans Kriek, a tart beer that reduces incredibly well. The result is a dessert that’s tart, creamy, floral, and just sweet enough with an underlying pepper note.
- 3 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk, divided
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. sugar
- 1 to 2 tbs. pink peppercorns depending on your taste
- 2 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
- 12 oz. fresh cherries, can use frozen & thawed
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 or 2 bottles of a kriek or other lambic (raspberry maybe?)
- You will also need 10 five-to-six-ounce ramekins. And.. this recipe can be halved (10 servings is a whole lotta panna cotta).
- Crush the peppercorns
- Bring cream, 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup kriek or lambic, 3/4 cup sugar, and peppercorns to a boil in a large saucepan until the sugar dissolves.
- Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
- Pour remaining 1/4 cup milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes.
- Set a strainer over a large pitcher or bowl.
- Bring the cream mixture to a simmer; stir in softened gelatin and vanilla. Whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Let stand for ~5 minutes.
- Pour cream mixture through strainer.
- Coat ramekins with nonstick spray and divide the cream mixture amongst them.
- Cover and chill until they firm. It’s best to prepare them the day before as they can ~6 hours to properly set. Keep them chilled until eating time.
- Stir cherries with remaining 2 tbs. sugar and pepper. Let sit until sugar dissolves and juices form; stir occasionally.
- In a saucepan, add the remaining kriek/lambic and reduce until it reaches a syrup consistency.
Allow to cool before serving or it will melt the panna cotta (as can be seen in my picture at the bottom of this post; I was kind of sort of overly eager).
- invert panna cotta onto plates. Spoon cherry mixture over top and pour kriek/lambic syrup around in a big delicious puddle.
I am not a baker. There’s something about the whole following directions thing that I just haven’t gotten the hang of. Unfortunately for me, baking doesn’t often tolerate a cook going rogue and that’s kind of what I did with this recipe.. I couldn’t stop drooling when I read it in Bon Apetit last month and had to give it a go, but also decided to add beer because, well, beer and chocolate go lovely together.
To my own disbelief, this cake turned out ah-freaking-mazing. In fact, I was so impressed with myself that I brought a piece to the Pastry Chef at my work for her to critique. Her response was excellent. As was the restaurant’s Forager who also tried a piece. Both let me know the recipe was a ‘keeper’ and so now, that’s exactly what I’m going to do – keep it – blog style.
But before we get into it, let me say that this recipe isn’t very difficult (don’t let the somewhat lengthy ingredient list fool you!), but it is sort of time consuming (less the sort of). Read through the steps, buy the ingredients in advance, and plan to make the filling the day before and have no fear that the invested time is absolutely worth the end result.
- 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup New Belgium 1554 (or other dark beer, or kahlua)
- 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
- 3 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- nonstick oil spray or butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. cake flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 6 tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. buttermilk
- The rest of the bottle of 1554 (or other dark beer or more kahlua)
- 1 tbs. finely ground espresso beans (optional)
- 1 tbs. cocoa nibs (optional)
BLACK PEPPER MERINGUE
A candy thermometer would also be good to have to make the meringue.
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (fresh is a must)
- Pour 1 tbs. cream into a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over and let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Combine the chocolate and salt in a large bowl.
- Whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1 tbs. sugar in a medium bowl.
- Bring remaining cream, the beer, and 1 tbs. sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan; stir to dissolve.
- Gradually whisk the hot cream mixture in with the egg yolks, being careful not to create scrambled eggs (which I did on accident on the first attempt…).
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens slightly and your finger leaves a path when you draw a line on the back of a spoon. This will take ~3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add the gelatin mixture to the cream mixture; stir to dissolve.
- Pour the cream mixture through a strainer (I use the same one I use for brewing) and into the large bowl with the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute.
- Whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
- Add the creme fraiche.
- Use a stand up mixer (or your mad mixing skills) to beat until well blended.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the filling and chill overnight.
- IMPORTANT: Pour the rest of the beer into a bowl or glass and cover; leave it so that it goes flat and doesn’t affect the texture of the cake with its carbonated goodness.
- Mix 1 tbs. sugar and salt in a small bowl.
- Attach a candy thermometer to a small saucepan and add remaining sugar and 1/2 cup water.
- Sit over medium low heat until sugar dissolves.
- Increase heat and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling the pan, until the thermometer shows 240F, which will take about 10 minutes.
- Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment; beat at medium speed until frothy.
- With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining sugar and salt.
- Gradually add the hot sugar syrup to the egg whites while the mixer is on medium-high.
- Continue beating the egg whites until they are stiff and cool; this will take around 20 minutes.
- Add the pepper.
- Immediately spoon onto the cake. Smooth over top and sides; swirl decoratively (and because it’s easier than trying to make the topping look clean and smooth).
- If you have a blow torch, torch away.
The other day I was feeling particularly gluttonous and this was the end result – a combination of some of my favorite things in life – bacon, beer, and maple. Disclaimer: this recipe is based on, and then modified from, Dave Lierberman’s ever so tasty (but baconless) Stout Cupcakes.
First things first.. make some Bacon Candy. From start to finish it will take ~30 minutes and you’ll need it for the cupcakes. IMPORTANT: do not discard the brown sugar liquid after you cook the bacon – save it for the batter to make things even more gooey delicious.
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup reserved liquid from the Bacon Candy
- Bacon Candy, finely chopped in a food processor
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of fine salt (not kosher)
- 1 bottle stout or porter (I used Breckenridge Vanilla Porter)
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (NOT the fake stuff)
- Preheat the oven to 350F (..turn down to 350F if you just made bacon candy)
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, & salt.
- In another medium mixing bowl combine the stout, melted butter, bacon candy liquid, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth.
- Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Do not overmix! Only mix until combined. Add pulverized bacon candy pieces to the batter to your liking, but be sure to save some to sprinkle on top.
- Lightly grease 24 muffin tins or use cupcake wrappers. Divide the batter equally between the tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 10 to 12 minutes (watch them carefully) until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool slightly before removing from the cupcake pan.
- To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar (to taste!) at low speed until well blended.
- This is where tasting is important. If you don’t like your frosting too sweet, cut back on the powered sugar. If you like the sweetness, add a little more powdered sugar. I tend to keep mine on the less sweet side (~1 1/2 cups) because the cupcakes themselves aren’t the sweetest cupcakes you’ve ever had and I don’t want like to overpower the smokiness of the bacon.
- Beat in the maple syrup and chill until spreadable (I stash in fridge while the cupcakes cool).
- Once the cupcakes have cooled – frost and sprinkle with the candied bacon.
And now I want to make them again. No joke, these are pretty f’ing awesome.
I don’t have many pictures for this one.. so I’m going to need you to just trust me. Pork candied with brown sugar = HEAVEN IN MOUTH.
This recipe was taken straight from uchi: the cookbook with only a few minor adjustments. Perhaps that will better defend my case for this delicious treat?
- 8 ounces cut bacon (the thickest you can find)
- 4 ounces water (uchi:the cookbook recommends 6 ounces)
- 4 ounces brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Cut bacon into a 1/4-inch dice.
- In a small sauce pot, bring water and brown sugar to a boil. Let mixture boil for a few minutes to reduce the water content. This is important – boil until you reach a maple syrup like consistency.
- Add the bacon. Cook for about 5 minutes to ensure that the bacon is well coated and the syrup has cooked all the way through the bacon.
- Strain the bacon out of the sugar-water mixture (save this liquid!) and place on a silicon mat or a parchment-lined baking tray.
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until bacon is crispy with a thin, sugary coating. Sugar burns very quickly, though, so watch it closely.
- Leave the bacon out for a few minutes until it hardens. It will harden as it cools and your patience will be rewarded.
PS: There’s no beer in this recipe. But! That doesn’t mean you can’t add some.
Have you been to David Bull’s trio of fabulousness on 2nd Street and Congress? You need to. Seriously. It’s GOOD.
The first time I simply stopped by the bar with a very specific drink in mind: something refreshing with fernet, but it couldn’t be sweet or pink. I asked our server to have the bartender mix up what he would. The result? One of the most satisfying libations I have had the pleasure of consuming. To my further surprise, he came out from behind the bar to introduce himself and explain the drink. My response: can I hug you???
There have been a couple of other dining tales, but the one that stands out best: a dessert extravaganza! And I’m not even a dessert person! Their Pastry Chef will rock your sweet tooth in ways you didn’t know possible.
And here’s what we had (now if only I could remember the descriptions):
Grapefruit sorbet with campari poprocks and a slew of other goodies.
Sweet potato beignets sprinkled with chicory, served with salted butter ice cream.
A play on a hoho (?) with a surprise cream center. In the back (and not really pictured): a pecan pie filled doughnut served with a whiskey milkshake. Um.. YUM! The plates left fully cleaned and I was ready to fall over into a blissful sugar coma.
Did I mention (or have you heard) Congress received 5 stars from the Stateman Restaurant Critic? Surpassing even Uchi and Uchiko? Yeah, I’d say they’re doing pretty well at this new restaurant gig.