Holiday Desserts From Triangle Chefs

Ntlh Spoonbread

Southern Living magazine author Kelly Anderson presents holiday desserts from Triangle-based chefs Amy Tornquist and Ashley Christensen in Southern Living No Taste Like Home (Oxmoore Press 2013). Change up your holiday meal with these delectable treats. 

Watts Grocery-Style Spoon Bread
Created by Chef Amy Tornquist of Watts Grocery in Durham

Makes 8 servings
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 tablespoons plain white cornmeal
1 1?4 cups plain white cornmeal
3?4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoon butter
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1?8 to 1?4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 1?2-quart soufflé dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Dust with 2 tablespoons of cornmeal (tap the dish lightly to remove excess cornmeal).

2. Combine 1 1?4 cups cornmeal and the next three ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in the center of the mixture.

3. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk it into the cornmeal mixture until it is smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, whisking until the butter melts. Cool the mixture for 5 minutes.

4. Whisk together the eggs and next five ingredients, then whisk all of this into the cornmeal mixture. Pour the cornmeal mixture into a prepared baking dish.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until the mixture turns golden brown and the center is almost set. Serve immediately.

Roasted Banana Panna Cotta With Bourbon Caramel
Created by Chef Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, Fox Liquor Bar and other Raleigh restaurants

Makes 6 servingsntlh_bananapannacotta.jpg
Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Total time: 3 hours, 35 minutes 

Panna Cotta
1 medium banana
1?1?2 cups heavy cream
1?4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1?4 cup cold water
3?4 cup milk

Bourbon Caramel
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
6 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey
3?4 cup unsalted butter, cut up
1 cup heavy cream, heated to just below a simmer
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 banana, thinly sliced
(If desired, the dish can be sprinkled with 2 teaspoons sugar and brûléed with a kitchen torch.)

1. Prepare the Panna Cotta. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the unpeeled banana on a baking sheet and roast it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the skin is black. Cool the banana for 10 minutes, then peel it. Mix together the banana, heavy cream, brown sugar, and pinch of sea salt in a saucepan. Simmer mixture for 5 minutes, allowing the fruit to infuse the cream. Remove the mixture from heat and puree it in a blender.

2. Sprinkle the gelatin over cold water in a medium bowl and let it stand for 3 minutes. Add the warm pureed cream mixture and stir it until the gelatin dissolves. Stir in the milk. Divide the mixture among 6 ramekins or custard cups (in 4-ounce serving sizes). Place plastic wrap directly on the warm mixture to prevent a film from forming, and chill it for 2 hours or until it is set.

3. Prepare the Bourbon Caramel. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, 1?4 cup of water and 1?4 cup of bourbon in a medium saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat for 18 minutes or until the mixture is amber in color and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, swirling the pan as the mixture begins to turn amber. Remove the pan from heat. Whisk in butter, heavy cream and sea salt. Cool for 30 minutes and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon.

4. Once the custards are chilled and set, uncover and invert each one on a plate, then remove the custard cup. Drizzle on the desired amount of Bourbon Caramel and refrigerate any remaining caramel in an airtight container.

Try more holiday recipes from local chefs, previously published on our website.

Recipes excerpted with permission from Southern Living No Taste Like Home by Kelly Alexander (Oxmoor House, $27.95). Photos courtesy of Senior Photographer Helene Dujardin.


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Categories: At Home, Food + Fun, Home, Recipes, Seasonal Fun, Winter