July 14, 2014
Mignardise
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panna cotta au sésame noir
(sesame-seed custard)
There are certain brands for which I can accept no substitute. Heinz Ketchup is the first that comes to mind. There’s no other ketchup that tastes as good on a hamburger or fries. I feel the same about Best Foods Mayonnaise. The latest addition to my “no substitutes list” is Roland Classic Coconut Milk.
Although produced in Thailand, it is different from all the other Thai brands I’ve tried. The average Thai cook may not even consider it a proper coconut milk for cooking. I like it because at room temperature, it is quite viscous—about the consistency of moderately whipped cream. It maintains its texture because there is guar gum and sodium carboxymethyl cellulose added to stabilize the milk. There’s also polysorbate 60 added as an emulsifier and sodium metabisulfite added as a preserver. Yum. Even a week after opening the can, the coconut milk remains thoroughly emulsified.
Then there are ingredients that I’ve never used before so there is no brand preference. This was the case with kuro neri goma, black sesame paste. I was aware of various pastes made from white sesame seeds, tahini for example. Using black sesame seeds was new to me. The occasion was finding a recipe Clotilde Dusoulier’s website, Chocolate and Zucchini for a black sesame seed panna cotta. As is usual for me, I looked at this dessert recipe and saw a mignardise awaiting.
My version of Clotilde’s recipe produces six to eight mignardise portions, depending on your serving dishes.
75 ml (5 T)
Roland Classic Coconut Milk
15 g (312 t)
granulated sugar
12 g (2 t)
black sesame paste
1 sheet (about 2.5 g)
160‑bloom‑strength gelatin, tempered
75 ml (5 T)
heavy cream
1. Combine the milk, sugar, and sesame paste in a saucepan, and heat gently until just warm. Drain the gelatin and add to the milk mixture. Whisk until the gelatin is melted and incorporated.
2. Off the heat, add the cream. Chill the mixture in an ice‑water bath until it is cold and begins to thicken.
3. Divide the cold mixture between individual serving dishes and refrigerate until firm.
4. Serve the panna cotta with a small dollop of coconut milk and a few black sesame seeds.

© 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.