One of my colleagues and I supervise an extracurricular club at Le Cordon Bleu for students who are interested in furthering their pastry knowledge. Recently, we had an event where we discussed plating and flavors in the modern eatery based on panna cotta. All of the students’ creations had to include black plums and lemon. I was excited to show a new generation of cooks how to use new and unusual flavors with a simple, classic dessert.
Almost anyone can make a panna cotta, but not everyone can make it interesting. Too often the color, flavor, and texture of panna cotta is not pushed to its fullest potential. Today’s diner expects more from a plated dish, so why not challenge them with each bite?
One of our creations was a brown butter panna cotta with black plum, citrus notes, and puff pastry shards. These contrasting flavors and textures of bitter yet refreshing plum, creamy panna cotta, and rich puff pastry are perfect for the transition between summer and fall.
For a more assertive and offbeat twist, we made a version with strong black sesame balanced by sweet caramel and honey. The dish was finished with toasted black sesame for added smokiness and crunch.I enjoy showing my students what a modern dessert can become with a bit of courage, creativity, and skill. Diners should be inspired to try something different rather than cajoled into complacency.