Rocky Road Panna Cotta


Photograph by Iaian Bagwell

From Thomas Numprasong, Canoe

Special Equipment:
4 7-ounce rocks glasses or similar style glasses with flat bases and straight sides
A large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip
Digital candy thermometer

For chocolate panna cotta layer:
1  1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped finely
1/4 cup mascarpone

For mascarpone panna cotta layer:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone

For marshmallow:
4 teaspoons gelatin powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ¾ cups hot water plus 2 tablespoons water
4 egg whites

For garnish:
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped finely
¾ cup chopped almonds

To prepare chocolate panna cotta layer:
Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes to soften. Bring cream, sugar, and salt to a boil; remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin is thoroughly dissolved. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Fold the mascarpone into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.

To prepare mascarpone panna cotta layer:
Follow the same directions as the chocolate panna cotta layer above, omitting the chocolate step. Fold the mascarpone directly into the cream mixture.

To prepare marshmallow:
Prepare the panna cotta layers before the marshmallow. Place the gelatin in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons water. Let the gelatin soften for about 5 minutes. In a saucepan over low heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and hot water and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and threads; it should register 240°F on a candy thermometer (the soft-ball stage). Stir the gelatin mixture into the sugar mixture until gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour the gelatin mixture into the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment and whip on high speed until it triples in volume, about 8 minutes. Set aside. Beat the egg whites in the mixer bowl until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the gelatin just until combined, then transfer the mixture to a pastry bag.

To assemble:
Pour mascarpone base to fill one-quarter of each glass. Refrigerate for an hour, until set. Remove from the refrigerator and make the marshmallow. Once in the pastry bag with a round tip, pipe marshmallow in a circular motion around the edges of each glass, starting from the mascarpone base up to 1 inch from the top. (There will be leftover marshmallow. Numprasong suggests piping out the remaining marshmallow in lines, cutting them into 1-inch pieces, and rolling in powdered sugar for marshmallow treats.) Sprinkle 1 Tbsp each chopped chocolate and chopped almonds over the mascarpone panna cotta layer, then add chocolate panna cotta to fill three-quarters of each glass. Refrigerate for another hour until set, then repeat layer of chocolate and almonds and cover with the remaining mascarpone panna cotta. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with remaining chocolate and almonds before serving.

Serves 4.