1 ½ cups cream
½ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
5 g cigar (about ½ of a short cigar)
5 gelatin sheets
1 tsp long thai peppercorns (as described here)
1 tsp smoked salt
This dish uses the flavour of a cigar in the dish. What can I say? It's a novel use of smoke in food...
Chop up the cigar.
We're going to steep the cigar in cream, milk, sugar and salt to get the flavour of it out.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover the mixture. Allow to steep for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, put the gelatin sheets into ice water to hydrate.
I prefer gelatin sheets over powder simply because they go into solution more easily, and you're less likely to find a chunk of non-dissolved gelatin later.
After twenty minutes have elapsed, remove the gelatin from the ice water and squeeze out the excess water. Stir the gelatin into the steeped cigar mixture, then pour the whole thing through a sieve, to remove the cigar chunks.
Line a half cookie sheet with cling wrap, and pour a thin layer of the gelatin mixture into the pan. Cover and reserve the rest of the mixture. And put a layer of cling wrap over the gelatin in the cookie sheet, being careful to keep it tight enough that it doesn't touch the cream.
Now, finding a perfectly level place in your fridge to solidify the gelatin can be challenging. Having failed at this on more than one occasion, I use the following technique: Put some ice cubes on one end of a large cookie sheet. Gently place the smaller cookie sheet in that pan, and pour some water over the ice, being careful not to get water into the smaller pan. Basically, you're creating a chilling space under the pan, so you can harden the gelatin on your level countertop.
While it is chilling, prepare the blackberries.
Surgically remove the base of the blackberries so that they are perfectly level. Gently set the blackberries onto a piece of paper towel, cut side down.
After the gelatin has solidified, remove the small pan from your chilling apparatus, and uncover. Pour the remaining liquid gelatin over the solidified gelatin, and immediately place the blackberries cut side down into the gelatin.
Cover, and place back in your chilling apparatus until the gelatin sets (after that, you can store in the fridge). Before serving, combine the smoked salt and thai peppercorns in a mortar, and grind into dust.
Using a small round, cut out each blackberry, surrounded by cream. Gently place on a plate, sprinkle with the salt and pepper mixture, and set a mint leaf on it.
Serve. What a unique flavour. Smoky and salty, with a bright blast from the blackberry. This is delicious, and much like Achatz' other dishes, best served one per person, as just a single bite.