Sugar Rush: Black-Sesame Panna Cotta at Nanashi, Paris
The terrain of flans, panna cottas, and otherwise jiggly desserts can be tricky and divisive: but when these desserts are perfect, they are breathtaking. Picture, then, the sneak-attack of an incredibly unappealing colored treat in the cooler at Paris hipster-bento shop Nanashi. Specifically a plastic tub of something inarguably grey and speckled, topped rather confusingly with items that looked sweet: blackberries, blueberries, and a dollop of whipped creme.
What is that, I fumbled Frenchishly towards the cashier? "Panna-cotta du sésame noire," she replied. I'd take one. Or, as it would turn out later, I'd have taken two hundred if I could. This thing was amazing.
Supple and tending towards more pudding-like on the panna cotta scale of jiggliness, this entrancing concoction perfectly balances the toasty notes of black sesame with supple cream flavors. It's both beguilingly light and full-flavored, while also staying in my perfect zone of not-too-sweet. (The whip on top is probably sweeter than the panna cotta itself.) It's a feat of Asian sweets fusion—and easily the most wonderful grey dessert I've ever seen.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee, tea, and treats all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop this spring.