I confess, I was prepared to be bored by the dessert in this tasting menu. It was miso cheesecake. I'm not a huge cheesecake fan. It's often heavy, and too sweet. Cheesecake done well can be quite good, but it's a little boring, and I was hoping to be excited by the food at Providence.Well, it wasn't cheesecake. What they brought out was more a panna cotta (at the time I thought it was a flan, but later reconsidered).
And it was amazing. Look at that, all nestled in black sesame crust goodness, with peach and a sorbet. I still swoon thinking about that dessert.
I spent the last year attempting to recreate it as a panna cotta, and while I created some tasty things, nothing really sung in the way that this dessert did. Miso, gelatin and cream. Miso, gelatin, cream and dark molasses. Miso, gelatin, cream and vanilla. Fail, fail, fail. On the advice of the lovely folks at Two Foodies - One Journey, I contacted Providence directly. And I'm so glad that I did. Adrian Vasquez, the pastry chef at Providence sent me the recipe.
cream cheese at room temperature*And this list shows why I was failing previously. The name of the dessert gives the secret away. I had only been trying to make a miso panna cotta. But the reason they call it miso cheesecake is they include cream cheese.
* I'm leaving quantities blank until I hear from Adrian that he doesn't mind me publishing the recipe
Start by re-hydrating the gelatin in ice water. Soak the sheets individually in ice water while you prepare the other materials.
Heat the sugar and water, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Then add the cream cheese, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Remove from heat. Whisk in the red miso. Then remove the gelatin from the ice water bath, and squeeze out the excess water. The gelatin will be all swollen, flexible (but fragile). Add the gelatin to the cheesecake mixture.
Pour into serving ramekins, and chill in the fridge, covered, for 6-8 hours.
At serving time, remove from the fridge. Run a knife around the outside of the panna cotta, then hold the bottom of the ramekin in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds. Immediately invert on to a plate and shake gently to unmold.
Providence serves this with a sorbet and stone fruit, and I discovered that this dessert abslolutely requires an acid counterpoint. Indeed, given the rich flavour (another commonality it shares with cheesecake), this panna cotta should be served in small servings. But it. is. amazing.
I served it with a small scoop of pomegranate-thyme sorbet. A beautiful acidic complement, for a spectacular dessert.