Recipe: Apple Jacks Panna Cotta with a Billionaire Bacon Crumble Topping and Sour Apple Foam

August 27, 2012 7:30 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Recipe: Apple Jacks Panna Cotta with a Billionaire Bacon Crumble Topping and Sour Apple Foam
Recipe: Apple Jacks Panna Cotta with a Billionaire Bacon Crumble Topping and Sour Apple Foam (Photo: Creative Commons)

This recipe, if you follow every part of it, will you give an Apple Jacks Panna Cotta with a Billionaire Bacon Crumble Topping and Sour Apple Foam. If you're keeping gluten-free, follow the recipe with the dried apple chips. If you're keeping dairy-free, follow the recipe with the rice, soy, or almond milk.

Apple Jacks Panna Cotta with a Candied Bacon Crunch topping and Sour Apple Foam 

You'll need:

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-4 cups "milk" (you can use regular milk, rice milk, soymilk, almond milk)
-6 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of cold water
-2 packets of non-flavored gelatin. That comes out to approximately 5 teaspoons of gelatin.*
-3 cups of Apple Jacks cereal OR 2.5 cups of dried apple chips (the sweeter the better, especially if you're not going to do the foam at the end) + 1 teaspoon of freshly ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg + 1 packed tablespoon of dark brown sugar**

*You can adjust this for whatever amount of liquid you want. The ratio is approximately .7 teaspoons of powdered gelatin to every100 grams of liquid. Since there are 2.5 teaspoons of powdered gelatin to a packet, that comes out to roughly one packet per 400 grams. I've found that 400 grams of liquid is roughly the equivalent of a scant 2 cups, but you can test with a kitchen scale. Again, this is more of a foolproof ratio that won't ensure your panna cotta is too firm or too soft. You can make it slightly firmer or softer in either direction and still be fine.

**Using cereal or apples here result in two very different tastes. The second one technically tastes better and fresher, but the former has more of the nostalgia factor to it. If you're going for the cereal, it's going to have a more subtle taste, so use the rice milk to steep it. If you're going for the apples and spices, don't be afraid to use the almond milk or the soy milk to give it a touch more complexity.

Step One: The Apple Jacks Panna Cotta

The first thing you're going to want to do is make the flavors of the cereal/apples come out by lightly toasting them. Here's how you do it.

-Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
-Lay the cereal OR apples out on one layer in a baking tin. Before you put it in the oven, try one.
-Put them in the oven for ten-to-fifteen minutes. I like twelve minutes for this.
-Once they come out, try one again. You should notice that there's a difference in flavor. It's not exactly drastic, but you're not looking for drastic. You're just looking to make the thingy taste more like itself, if that makes sense. Also, you can do this with any cereal you want. 12 minutes at 300 is the magical number. But if you think you want more of it to come to the surface, feel free to leave it in there for more. Just make sure you don't burn it.
-Once it's out, put it in a medium-sized bowl and pour your four cups of cold rice milk/almond milk/soy milk over it. Let it steep for twenty minutes.
-Once it's been sitting there for twenty minutes, taste it. If you've gone the cereal way, you should notice that it's basically the milk that was at the bottom of the bowl. Crazy nostalgia factor kicking in and all that jazz. If you've been using the dried apples, the milk will have their taste but it won't be balanced with any spices. You'll remedy that on the stove.
-Strain the cereal and apples out of the milk, and squeeze the apples and milk that are in the strainer to wring as much milk out of them as you can. The stuff that's trapped in there is the most flavorful part of this.
-Transfer to a saucepan and simmer over low-heat until it's hot, but not boiling in the case of the cereal-milk. If you're using the dried-apple milk, bring it to a low boil, then dissolve the nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon into it. In both cases of the cereal-milk and the spiced-apple-milk, add a pinch of salt at this time. Turn down the heat.
-So, now for one of the rly fun parts of this: blooming your gelatin. Grab six tablespoons of cold water and put it in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly on the surface. Don't put it on the surface in one big piles, as it won't dissolve. Just slowly and evenly distribute it. Wait ten minutes.
-Add about one-fourth a cup of the hot milk (make sure it's not boiling) to the bloomed gelatin, and stir until it's incorporated and completely dissolved. Then add the rest of the liquid. The reason you add a small batch first is because it's so much easier to dissolve it that way.
-Stir it up, then transfer it to ramekins. Put it in the fridge overnight.
-If you wanna get fancy, split your four cups of panna cotta liquid into 3 cups in one bowl and one cup in another bowl. Add green food coloring to the one cup to get a nice light green and just a few drops of red food coloring to the 3 cups to get just the lightest pink possible. If you're using cereal, it may not need the pink food coloring at all. If you're doing it this way, then fill your ramekins up one-third of the way with the pink gelatin. Let that set in the fridge until the surface gets set. It doesn't matter if the rest isn't, you just want a firmer surface for it. Add the green panna cotta liquid to the top of that once it's firm, then let that set. Lastly, add the remaining pink liquid. Let that set.
Pretty cool, huh? Okay, you can either call it a day here (and who could blame you) or you can move on to the Billionaire Bacon Crumble

Part Two: Billionaire Bacon Crumble
-This is super easy. Preheat the oven to 400.
-Set out five strips of bacon and cover them with two teaspoons of dark brown sugar each.
-Put them in the oven for six minutes. You should notice that the sugar has started to melt and become syrupy.
-Flip the bacon over, making sure to drag through the syrup as much as possible.
-Let them bake in the oven for another six minutes.
-Take em out and let them cool on a wire rack, if possible, or just on a plate. The candy on it should set, becoming firm. Crumble the bacon up into bacon bits and sprinkle the top of the finished panna cotta with it. If you wanted to, you could also incorporate this into the panna cotta itself, but naaaaah.

Part Three: Sour Apple Foam
So this is so super optional it's crazy. If you want a perfectly balanced dessert, then go with this for the requisite acidity/tartness.
-Combine a cup of very tart apple cider or apple juice (you can make it yourself by chopping up some sour apples, cores and all, and covering it in water on a low boil until you've extracted enough flavor, then straining the apple pieces out of it) with one teaspoon of soy lecithin powder. You can find that in supermarkets or on amazon.
-Put your immersion blender in it and beat it. You see all that foam at the top that typically goes away? The soy lecithin stabilizes it, so you can literally take your spoon and scoop it up and transfer it to the top of your panna cotta. Hell, if you wanted to play with temperature, you can freeze the foam, and keep the candied bacon warm.

Enjoy! And of course, garnish the plate with some cereal :-)

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