On Sunday, I found myself munching on a bag of Smart Food popcorn. A little know fact is that Smart Food was created in my home town of Marlborough, MA long before they were bought by Frito. Having grown up on it, I wanted to honor it in a new creation. After some deliberation with friends I decided to try it in panna cotta. The basics are that you heat your cream base, popcorn & seasonings to a boil. Remove from heat and steep for 30 minutes. Then strain out the popcorn, pushing on solids to get the most cream out. Reheat the cream, and then whip it into your bloomed gelatin.
The first run was a bit underwhelming. It was neither sweet, nor salty. It had an amazing popcorn flavor, but could do with an extra dose of salt. Having adjusted the recipe, I’m happy with the results. The picture in the previous post is what it looked like while setting up in a mini muffin pan. I’ve been doing a bit of flavor bouncing trying to find the perfect pairing.
Before I was even done eating my cheese popcorn panna cotta I had another thought. What about a panna cotta that tasted like nachos. My guilty pleasure is Doritos. They are highly seasoned, which should lend to a flavorful cream base. This time I steeped Spicy Nacho Doritos in the boiling cream base. I think that I over steeped them by about 5 minutes, because they were a bit mushy, but the flavor was amazing. Incidentally, the mushy creamed Doritos were pretty good.
While that was setting up I took the juice that had settled in my homemade salsa and turned it into a caramel. A couple of chedder & jack cheese discs made on a silpat, some frozen guacamole & green onion rounded out the dish. So here is my Spicy Nacho Panna Cotta with Spicy Salsa Water Caramel, Cheddar/Jack Discs & Frozen Guacamole Shards. Ideally I would have liked to make a crispy guacamole cookie, but I haven’t figured that out yet. Any suggestions?