Dessert at the American Wine & Food Festival

Part of the pleasure in attending an event that celebrates food the way AWFF does, is witnessing one creative plate after another. Some chefs are like architects: they have a vision that, when realized, can be powerful and awe-inspiring — such as with Dominique Ansel of Daniel and his version of a Push Pop.

Push pops by Dominque Ansel

Sometimes, like with Ansel’s Push Pop, a chef’s creativity comes out in the display of his dish. Other times, a chef’s creativity shines more through the flavor of the dish–as with Blackbird’s Panna Cotta. I have to say, this dessert was unexpectedly palatable. Sometimes, what you see is not what you get. I expected this panna cotta to have the usual sweet, creamy taste. Instead, the flavors of this treat were explosive. I had NO IDEA Panna Cotta could have this much flavor!

Blackbird's bourbon barrel panna cotta with candied pinenuts and caramelized apples.

The notes were so unique in this dessert that it was easily my favorite of the night. I had to find out what was in it, so I contacted Blackbird in Chicago to get the scoop.

The story behind Blackbird’s mouthwatering dessert is almost as remarkable as the taste of the dish itself. The restaurant’s pastry chef, Patrick Fahy fills us in:

“The idea, believe it or not, started with apples. I wanted something to counterbalance a nice flavor of caramelized apples. What we found was priceless–a barrel used to age bourbon since 1994. The barrel is from Havenhill, Kentucky and they actually light the inside of the barrel on fire to give it a scorched flavor before aging the bourbon inside of it. The barrel came to me after it was drained of the 16-year-old bourbon. I took the barrol apart, cut it up into peices, burned the wood a little more, and infused it into cream. The flavor that came out is exactly what you tasted. The flavors that came to me were the following: bourbon, wood, smoke, vanilla, brown butter, butterscotch, caramel, and nuttiness. Pine nuts have a little woodiness to them, so we topped it with some candied salted pine nuts, and caramelized apples, as well as a little drizzle of blis maple syrup. One more thing we added to the dish was bourbon liquor candies . Liquor candies have a sugar shell outside, and a liquid inside. We made the candies the size of a pearl. Finally, we garnished it with micro sorrel.”

This one’s a bit difficult to create at home, so if you are lucky enough to live in Chicago, run–don’t walk–to Blackbird. Tell us what you order and how you like it!

Here are more pictures from the dessert area of the event:


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