We like spice. And yet while I lean on jalapeno for its complexity and structure in dishes I often overlook white pepper. Thankfully, Aki does not. We were working on a dessert for dinner last week and needed something both refreshing and simple.
Something that has become overly apparent recently is the shortest distant between two points is the shortest distance. We have served panna cotta as a dessert over the years and relied on its simplicity and smile factor. The smile factor is that when someone takes a spoonful of the panna cotta and places it in their mouth, they smile. Since we were serving a set of six strangers with varying palates we opted to end the meal with a dessert which would ideally generate a room full of smiles. Still in all, we needed a bit of a backbone for the panna cotta, a flavor that was present and piqued the palate while supporting the dish as a whole. That flavor was white pepper.
The panna cotta base was a blend of milk and half and half infused with white pepper and then enriched with whole milk yogurt. We used gelatin to set the panna cotta and then paired the chilled dairy gel with smashed and Minus 8 vinegar marinated figs. The small seeds of the figs added just a not of crunch to the dish so that everything was not a homogeneous texture free assemblage.