Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 24, 2013

Perfect Pairings: Dessert wine and vanilla


SUTTONS BAY — Black Star Farms' Sirius White Dessert Wine paired with a panna cotta dessert is a favorite for Black Star Farms' managing partner Don Coe. Both are lightly sweet with warm vanilla undertones and rich, smooth textures.

"The creamy texture and vanilla flavors of the dessert meld perfectly with the warm, rich fruit flavors in the wine," Coe said.

Known as ratafia in France, Sirius White is the essence of pure Chardonnay fruit from juice that is pressed at the peak of ripeness and then fortified with brandy distilled from the same juice. With aromas of honey followed by the flavors of fruit, it pairs well with vanilla and cream-based desserts.

Goat Cheese Panna Cotta

1 envelope gelatin granules

½ c. heavy cream

1 c. heavy cream

2 T. sugar

1 t. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

4 oz. goat cheese

½ c. walnuts

Pour the packet of gelatin granules in a small bowl containing ½ c. heavy cream. Allow the granules to sit in the cream for 5 minutes and bloom. Pour the remaining cup of cream along with the vanilla bean paste and sugar into a small saucepan and begin to warm it over low heat. When the cream is warm, add the goat cheese in small pieces and let the goat cheese slowly melt into the cream. Do not let the mixture boil — low steady heat is all you need.

When the goat cheese has melted completely, add in the ½ cup cream containing the gelatin. Again, slowly warm the mixture until all the gelatin has melted into the cream. Test the mixture by inspecting spoonfuls of the cream to ensure that all of the granules have disappeared.

Prepare 6 to 8 small containers or a fleximold muffin-sized form by spraying thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray or wiping with olive oil (with the flex form this may not be necessary).

Carefully divide the warm cheese mixture between the containers. Place them on a flat tray and move them to the freezer to set for at least 4 hours and preferably, overnight.

The amount of servings you end up with will depend on the size of the containers you choose. I like the fleximold containers best because you can easily unmold them this way. You may experience sticking issues with other containers.

For the walnut garnish, toast whole walnuts in the oven at 350° for 10 minutes or until you can smell them and they start to brown lightly. Remove from the oven and cool before use.

Remove the panna cotta from the forms or fleximold and put them onto a sheet tray or large dish. Then return them to the refrigerator to thaw. The panna cotta should come out easily by gently pushing it away from the edges of the form with your fingers from the back. If it doesn't unmold, you may set the form in a shallow dish of warm water for just a moment and then invert it out onto the sheet pan. Garnish with walnuts before serving.

--Stephanie Wiitala, event coordinator and pastry chef