Nothing beats caramel-fleur de sel combination. But add to it rich velvety custard, infused with coffee and flavored with chocolate and you will have an unforgettable dessert. Serve it in small demitasse cups or tiny ramekins.
The panna cotta can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. The caramel can be refrigerated for up to a week. Do make sure to put the whole thing together right before serving.
The recipe is from “Chocolate & Vanilla” by Gale Gand.
Makes about 12 servings
For the panna cotta:
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 ¼ tsp powdered gelatin
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup whole espresso beans
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 2 ½ oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup sour cream
For the fleur de sel caramel:
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp fleur de sel, plus more for garnish
Prepare the panna cotta:
To make the panna cotta, put 1 tbsp water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Have ready 12 (2-oz) demitasse cups or other small containers.
In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, espresso beans, and sugar. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture almost comes to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin until it dissolves. Let the cream sit, off the heat, for 5 minutes to infuse it with the espresso flavor.
Put the chocolate in a bowl. Strain the hot espresso cream through a fine-mesh sieve over the chocolate and then whisk gently to melt the chocolate and combine. Whisk in the sour cream.
Pour the mixture into the cups. Chill in the refrigerator until the panna cotta is firm, at least 1 hour.
Make the caramel:
Stir together the sugar and water in a high-sided medium saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat to moderately high and boil without stirring, occasionally brushing down sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until syrup turns deep amber in color. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, stirring gently but carefully with a wooden spoon; The mixture is extremely hot and will bubble up. Let the caramel cool before stirring in the fleur de sel.
To serve, top the panna cotta with some of the caramel and sprinkle a little extra fleur de sel on top.