Thanksgiving Recipes: Tonka Bean Panna Cotta from Cafe Boulud's Pastry Chef Eric Snow

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Pastry chef prepared desserts are simply the best; there's just no getting around it.

The best cooks -- and even chefs -- have a hard time dealing with the exact science that is baking. As involved as it may be, a good sweet treat is like nothing else on the planet.

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, we figured it would be nice to get a special recipe from one of the best pastry chefs around.

Eric Snow of Cafe Boulud gave us his recipe for his tonka bean panna cotta, sautéed vanilla pumpkin, toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted pumpkin seed oil, cranberry compote, vanilla Chantilly, and white chocolate décor.

Complex? Yes.

Worth the effort? You bet.

See Also: Cafe Boulud Pastry Chef Eric Snow on Martha Stewart, Palm Beach, and More

While the dessert is fairly easy to present, it requires multiple steps to put it all together.

Snow uses metric measurements to ensure accuracy in calculating the ingredients.

"I've always used metric," said Snow. "It's more exact and less equipment is needed: measuring spoons, cups, etc. Just grab a scale and the bowl you're scaling into."

This recipe will serve six to eight people.

Sauteed Pumpkin -- Start One Day Ahead

One small pumpkin

One vanilla bean

.249 kilograms of water

.249 kilograms of sugar

Step One: Scrape out the inside of a pumpkin and dice the flesh into small pieces. Reserve the seeds and set out out on newspaper to dry overnight.

Step Two: In a pot, scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean, water, and sugar and bring it to a boil.

Step Three: Add the pumpkin to the liquid. Let it stand for one day.

Step Four: Strain the pumpkin from the liquid and saute until tender.

Cranberry Compote

.156 kilograms fresh cranberries

.094 kilograms sugar

.001 kilograms of fresh orange zest

Step One: Combine the cranberries and the sugar in a pot and cook over medium low heat until the berries have broken down.

Step Two: Remove the pot from the heat and add the orange zest.

Vanilla Chantilly

.186 kilograms of heavy cream

.063 kilograms of sugar

One vanilla bean

Step One: Combine the heavy cream, sugar, and flesh of the vanilla bean in a bowl.

Step Two: Whip the mixture until stiff peaks form.

Step Three: Place into a pastry bag with a decorative tip. (If you don't have a pastry bag you can place the cream in a ziploc bag and cut off one of the corners.)

Toasted Pumpkin Seed

Reserved pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seed oil


Step One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step Two: Coat the seeds with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast in the oven for about twenty minutes.

"Tonka is something I was introduced to working with the French early on," said Snow. "It has a cinnamon vanilla essence to it that I really like and it's something that you don't see a lot of."

Tonka Bean Panna Cotta

Five to eight tonka beans

.063 kilograms of white chocolate

.398 heavy cream

.035 kilograms of sugar

.003 grams of gelatin

Step One: Bring the cream, sugar, and tonka beans to a boil.

Step Two: Remove it from the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes.

Step Three: Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.

Step Four: Bring it back to a boil; add the gelatin.

Step Five: Pour the liquid over the white chocolate in a bowl and mix well.

Step Six: Place the mixture into a large ramekin or bowl -- smaller ramekins can be used for individual portions -- and allow it to chill for two hours.

Step Seven: Assemble all of the ingredients and serve.

Cafe Boulud is located at 301 Australian Ave. in Palm Beach. Call 561-655-6060, or visit danielnyc.com.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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