Playing the role of architect as much as pastry aficionado, chef Laurent Vals constructed a dessert so awesomely stacked, it seems almost abominable to force a spoon through its dark chocolate lid. And yet there's much more to this luxed-up partfait than a sensational display of layers. True to its name, Chef Vals masterminded "Journey for the Senses" with a medley of textures, consistencies and flavors pulled from each end of the savory-sweet spectrum.
The award-winning chocolatier (he also happens to run his own handcrafted chocolate-making business) resides as the pastry chef at the Spiced Pear, a quaintly named restaurant turning out forward-thinking spins on culinary classics inside Newport's Chanler Hotel. Here, Vals' goal was to create a final course that brought a "full plate" within a glass in order to showcase its various layers and textural components — but not without the unseen surprise of a distinctly-flavored, savory ingredient: mushroom.
With this vertical construction already very much on display, Vals helped us identify all the elements, below.
1. Caramel Panna Cotta | As the base component of the construction, it's also the heaviest. It's poured into a tilted glass, which remains in this position until set.
2. Orange Honey Gelée | A gelatin layer containing cubes of saffron-infused Asian pear.
3. Chocolate Brownie Bits | Broken-up pieces of brownie resting under with a thin, crisp layer of hazelnut feuilletine.
4. Porcini Ganache, Orange Truffle Mousse | Dense and creamy, with the truffle mousse as a somewhat lighter-bodied player. The ganache contains powdered porcini, while the mousse is enhanced with truffle oil.
5 & 6. Dark Chocolate Ribbon And Disk | Handmade in-house. For the ribbon, the chocolate is tempered and combed onto acetate, before it's broken and twisted into curls while still pliable.
7. Citrus Macaron w/Porcini Ganache | Crowning component encapsulating a medley of textures: crisp, chewy and soft.
Spiced Pear, The Chanler, 117 Memorial Boulevard, Newport, RI, 401-847-1300, thechanler.com/dining