Blancmange with Candied Papaya

On March I prepared for a friend's blog this papaya candied recipeThis is another traditional candy from my home state in Brazil. As it is very sweet, it needs some suave accompaniment to balance the intense flavor. In Brazil we like to have it with Minas cheese, which is a traditional Brazilian cheese similar with farmer’s cheese. But I also really like to enjoy it with blancmange. Besides the perfect and delicious combination of flavors, it is also a beautiful dessert for a special occasion.

Blancmange is a dessert prepared with a milk base, sugar and gelatin as a setting agent. In the past, isinglass (fish gelatin) or chicken grease was used to substitute the gelatin. Sometimes it was also used almond milk instead of regular milk. Nowadays there are many variations. You can use coconut milk, corn starch and others several flavors. It’s also better known as panna cotta, a classic Italian version, or manjar in Portuguese.

When fig and peach are in season my mom used to prepare a coconut blancmange by using coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, cornstarch, coconut and sugar. But today I will share with you a recipe from the book Pierre Hermé Pastries. It calls for homemade almond milk, vanilla beans and gelatin. I knew for the first time when I saw this recipe that the papaya candied rolls would be a perfect accompaniment for it. It was also an excuse to try for the first time my homemade almond milk.

In the end, it was easiest then I thought it would be. Everything went so well! This combination ends up with the lightness of the blancmange, the intense flavor of the papaya candied and a stunning dessert plate.

(from the book Pierre Hermé Pastries)

Preparation time: 10 minutes (the night before) + 35 minutes (the following day)
Refrigeration time: 4 hours
Serves 6

Almond Milk

1 scant cup (200 g) still mineral water
1/2 cup (100 g) superfine granulated sugar
2 vanillas beans
1 3/4 cups (175 g) ground almonds
1 drop almond extract

The night before, make the almond milk. In a saucepan, bring the still mineral water to a boil with the sugar. Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the liquid. Combine this syrup with the ground almonds and add the almond extract. Refrigerate overnight.

3 gelatin sheets
Finely grated zest of 1/4 unwaxed lemon
1 1/4 cups (275 g ) heavy cream

The following day, strain the almond milk through a fine-mesh conical sieve. Put the gelatin sheets into cold water and allow them to soften for 20 minutes.

Heat half a cup of the almond milk and melt the gelatin in it. Add the remaining almond milk and lemon est and mix well.

Beat the heavy cream in a chilled metal bowl and incorporate it into the almond milk. pour the mixture into a 8-inch-diameter (20-cm) ring mold. Place in the refrigerator to set, at least 4 hours.

The recipe for the candied papaya you can find here
Unmold the blancmange onto a serving plate by quickly dipping the base of the mold into hot water and then inverting the blancmange onto the platter. Surround it with the candied papaya. Enjoy.