Coconut Panna Cotta, Chocolate Pot de Crème, Brûléed Banana, and Sesame Brittle

Adapted by
November 2011


Coconut Panna Cotta: (Yield 12, 4-ounce Servings)
1¼ cups toasted coconut, preferably Angel Flake*
4 cups heavy cream (40%)
1 heavy pinch sea salt
⅓ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3½ sheets gelatin
Chocolate Pot de Crème
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup superfine sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
5 large egg yolks
12 ounces Felchlin Maracaibo 49%
Oh Snap! Gingersnap Cookies: (Yield: 3½ dozen)
12 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
½ cup blackstrap molasses
1½ tablespoons microplaned ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
1 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon sea salt
Sesame Brittle: (Yield: 1½ pounds)
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
To Assemble and Serve
1 ripe banana


For the Coconut Panna Cotta:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the coconut in the oven until dark, about 5 minutes. Combine the heavy cream, salt, sugar, and vanilla bean and seeds into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepot. Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat, whisking to break up and infuse the vanilla seeds. While the mixture is heating, bloom the gelatin. When the cream simmers, remove from heat and add the toasted coconut and softened gelatin. Whisk to combine and steep for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve or chinois, making sure to press on the solids. Discard coconut and vanilla pod.

Pour the mixture into chilled glasses, or 4-ounce mason jars. Gently torch the tops of the panna cottas to pop any unsightly bubbles. Chill for several hours until set. Once firm, wrap each firmly in plastic wrap, storing for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

For the Chocolate Pot de Crème:
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and salt. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Put the chopped chocolate in a separate large mixing bowl and set a fine-mesh sieve over the top. Once the cream mixture has come to a boil, whisk about ¼ cup of it into the egg yolks to temper. Pour the tempered egg yolks back into the pot with the hot cream and whisk to combine over a medium-low heat. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir constantly for several minutes until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Immediately remove from heat and strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve over the chocolate. Let the chocolate and custard sit for several minutes. This will help melt the chocolate evenly. Whisk until smooth and divide evenly in 2- to 3-ounce portions. Gently tap each to remove any air bubbles.

Pour about 1 cup of the custard into a small, metal bowl and chill until set.

For the Oh Snap! Gingersnap Cookies:
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the molasses, ginger pulp, and vanilla and continue to cream for several more minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time on medium speed. Turn speed to high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and clove into a medium bowl. Add the salt and whisk to fully incorporate all of the spices. Add the dry mixture to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Pour batter into a plastic container, put plastic wrap directly on the surface, and chill overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350°F. Scoop and roll the dough into balls before dropping into the sugar to coat. Put 8 cookies on a silicone mat-lined half sheet tray and gently press each round to slightly flatten. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges are set and centers are puffy.

For the Sesame Brittle:
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Combine the butter, sugar, water, and sea salt in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Set over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the pot until the mixture reaches 260°F on a candy thermometer. Add the white and black sesame seeds and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, until the mixture reaches 350°F or until the sugar takes on a dark golden brown color.

Remove from the heat and immediately pour onto the prepared pan, spreading it out to ¼-inch thickness. Tap the pan on counter several times and set for 1 hour before breaking into desired pieces or pulsing in a food processor. Store in a cool environment in an air-tight container for 4 to 5 days.

To Assemble and Serve:
Let the Chocolate Pot de Crème come to room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Put 1 Coconut Panna Cotta on a dish. With a warm spoon, put a quenelle of the milk Chocolate Pot de Crème on top of the Panna Cotta. Sprinkle with the Sesame Brittle crunch. Cut the ripe banana on a bias into ¼-inch thick slices, sprinkle with sugar on a sizzle platter and caramelize with a torch. Perch the banana on top of the quenelle. Put 2 warm Oh Snap! Gingersnap Cookies on the side of the plate and serve.

* Angel Flake coconut has more sugar on it, which I find has better caramelization versus natural coconut.