Thursday, November 8, 2012

And a Bottle of Rum

In general, I am not a very spontaneous person. Occasionally I will go and do something entirely on a whim (like for instance,  join NaNoWriMo, which I instantly regretted, because 50,000 words. I have work, and deadlines and travel and 50,000 is a hella lota words). But for the most part, I am the type of person who needs to sit with an idea, to let it settle and incubate until I am saturated with it. I like letting things sort of luxuriate in my head. I like letting them evolve and become themselves before they take their final form- which is fine. I'm thinky thoughts sort of person.

All of this, was a very long (and slightly lyrical) way of saying that I have been thinking about this recipe for a while. And when I say recipe- what I mean is a conglomeration of two recipes. The first recipe, Coconut Panna Cotta with Lime Curd, has been a dessert staple for over a year. Except sometimes, I don't use lime curd. Sometime I use lemon curd, or rhubarb curd. Whatever I use it's a good dessert. The type of dessert that makes me wonder why this sort of thing doesn't happen in restaurants more often. And by this sort of thing, I mean panna cotta made of coconut milk. It seems obvious and yet it is so rare.

The second recipe, Rum-Spiked Roasted Caramelized Mango, is new to my repertoire. I came across it this summer, also on Food52, and was instantly smitten. Mango, caramel, cardamom, vanilla and rum? How could I not be smitten? How could anyone not be smitten?  The first time I made it, I was taken aback. I had expected, given the ingredients, for it to be the intense sort of dish that just sort of wallops you with flavor. But when I tasted it, I was surprised to find that somehow the combination of rum, vanilla, cardamom and caramel turned the mango into something delicate and floral, like turning a piece of velvet into lace. I loved it. And though the comments on the original recipe called for vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment, all I could think of was coconut panna cotta.

And so a dessert was born.

And yes, it took a while. I spent a long time with it sitting in my head, playing around, but when I did finally make it, it was wonderful. It was flavorful and light and one last sunny day before the rain begins.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Rum-Spike Roasted Caramelized Mango
 Adapted from Couldn't Be Parve and EmilyC

For the Panna Cotta:
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
1/2 cup of water, divided

1. Combine the gelatin with 1/4 cup of the water. Set aside and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. In a small saucepan, mix together the coconut milk, sugar and the remaining water. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add a quarter cup of the coconut mixture to the gelatin to temper it, then pour the gelatin mixture into the rest of the coconut milk.

3. Divide evenly between 6 individual serving dishes (I uses glasses). Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours until set.

For the Rum-Spiked Roasted Caramelized Mango:
2 ripe mangoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
8-10 green cardamom pods
1/3 cup rum
sea salt, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Peel the mangoes and chop into 1/2 inch chunks or slices.

2.  In an oven proof skillet, or a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, vanilla and cardamom pods. Place over a high heat. Be patient. Stir often. The water will begin to boil away and leave you with a golden, syrupy substance that we like to call caramel. This can take up to 10 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Add the rum. Lower the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the rum and caramel are smoothly combined, about 5 minutes. You want the caramel to thin and light. Add the mango. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Give the pan a shake to evenly coat the mango with the rum-caramel sauce.

4. Transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Add salt and remove cardamom pods. Let cool.

Spoon the mango over the panna cotta. Serve.

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