Celery, Raisin, Peanut

As a child the only way I would eat celery was covered in peanut butter and plastered with raisins. Chefs are notorious for jumping around between ingredient infatuations and currently I can’t get enough celery. Celery is cheap, aromatic, and can play the starring role in savory and, believe it...

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celery dessert

As a child the only way I would eat celery was covered in peanut butter and plastered with raisins. Chefs are notorious for jumping around between ingredient infatuations and currently I can’t get enough celery. Celery is cheap, aromatic, and can play the starring role in savory and, believe it or not, sweet applications.

The light green orb is a sweet celery semifredo. Inside is a rich toasted peanut milk. Strewn across the plate are port wine-soaked raisins, golden raisin gel, peanut powder, and sliced celery. When pierced, the celery orb releases a river of peanut milk across the plate. Eaten together, the elements combine to create the flavors of ants on a log, but a bit sweeter.

Peanut Milk:

  • 175 g raw, shelled peanuts
  • 500 g whole milk
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • 2 g salt

Place the peanuts onto a lined baking sheet. Roast at 350° F for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and fragrant. Meanwhile, bring the milk, sugar, and salt to a boil. Add the roasted peanuts to the milk. Chill and store in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, blend the mixture on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a chinois and allow to drip-strain for 2-4 hours. Do not push on the solids. Discard the solids and reserve the peanut milk.

Golden Raisin Gel:

  • 100 g golden raisins
  • 200 g water
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 sheets gelatin (170 bloom)

Blend the raisins and water together on high speed for one minute. Transfer the puree to a saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat. Transfer back to the blender, add salt, and carefully blend for one minute longer. Strain through a chinois and transfer back to a clean saucepan. Bloom the gelatin in ice water. Bring the raisin puree to a boil. Once boiling, add the bloomed gelatin and stir to dissolve. Transfer to a shallow loaf pan and cool in the refrigerator until set. Once set, slice into 1/4” cubes.

Port Wine Soaked Raisins:

  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 1/4 cup dark raisins

Heat the port wine to a boil. Pour over the raisins. Cover the raisins with plastic wrap and allow to steep at room temperature for 4 hours. Strain the raisins. Reserve the liquid for another purpose (or just drink it like I did…delicious!).

Peanut Powder:

  • 100 g raw, shelled peanuts
  • 50 g tapioca maltodextrin
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Toast the peanuts as you did when making the peanut milk. Once cooled, transfer the peanuts to a food processor. Pulse until the peanuts become mealy. Add the tapioca maltodextrin and pulse to a fine powder. Season to taste with salt. The powder should taste like salted peanuts.

Celery Semifredo:

  • 200 g celery, rinsed and chopped
  • 250 g water
  • 2 g citric acid
  • Pinch salt
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 7 sheets gelatin (170 bloom)

Blend the celery, water, citric acid, salt, and sugar together on high speed for 1 minute. Strain through a chinois. Carefully skim any foam from the celery puree. Measure 375 g of the mixture. Transfer 100 grams to a small sauce pot and chill the remaining 275 g. Bloom the gelatin in ice water while you slowly heat the 100 g celery puree to a simmer. The color will dull slightly. Once simmering, add the bloomed gelatin and stir until dissolved.

In a stainless steel bowl combine the chilled celery puree with the hot gelatin-celery mixture. Place the bowl in a bath of ice water and begin whisking. Whisk the mixture until it becomes very light and foamy, and leaves ribbons when allowed to drip from the whisk. Transfer the mixture to a mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Whip to stiff peaks then transfer to a piping bag. Pipe the celery foam into 1.5” hemisphere molds. Level using an offset spatula. Freeze the hemispheres for one hour.

After an hour, carefully scoop the centers of each hemisphere out with a parisienne scoop. Dip the scoop in hot water to make the task easier. Freeze for an additional hour.

Remove the frozen hemisphere molds. Un-mold one hemisphere. Torch the circumference of another hemisphere and press the un-molded hemisphere on top of it to create a hollow-center sphere. Freeze the spheres for an additional hour.

To Assemble and Serve:

  • Hollow celery spheres
  • Peanut Milk
  • Port wine soaked raisins
  • Golden Raisin gel
  • Peanut powder
  • 1 peeled celery stalkFill a food syringe with peanut milk. Carefully pierce the celery sphere with the syringe and fill the hollow cavity with peanut milk. Place a mound of peanut powder on a plate and place the celery-peanut orb on top of the powder, pierced side down. Place soaked raisins and golden raisin gel cubes around the plate. Slice the peeled celery stalk into various shapes and use these as garnish. Finally, dust the plate with a bit more peanut powder.

    celery dessert 2

    Photographs by Mike Boehmer.

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