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Sweet, with Celery

Peanut butter-chocolate ganache at Splashes in Surf & Sand Resort

David Fuñe, head chef at Splashes in Laguna Beach, is serious about his work. His dishes are tightly composed, and he deftly mixes traditional techniques with molecular gastronomy. Each dish that leaves his kitchen is plated with tweezer-level precision.

That doesn’t mean that Chef Fuñe is stuffy, however.

His style is infused with a healthy sense of playfulness. Case in point: his peanut butter-chocolate ganache – a dessert that exists at the intersection of modern technique, balanced flavors and whimsical nostalgia.

The luscious pieces of ganache are surrounded by dollops of peanut butter caramel. To lighten those two rich elements, Fuñe scatters feuilletine – featherweight bits of crisped sugar seasoned with wild ginger salt – over the plate. He also adds a few candied blueberries and two house-made squares of marshmallow. But the real surprise of the dish is the “celery shatter” that the chef prepares by using liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze celery puree before breaking up the pieces and plating them. This cold, airy hit of celery flavor makes the entire dessert reminiscent of “ants on a log” – your favorite snack from kindergarten.

“I wanted this to taste the way childhood feels,” Fuñe explains. “I love that kids are always willing to be surprised by food, and my plan was to reference that.”

The effect is exactly what the chef was aiming for, and the entire dish harks back to the joys of being young.

:: surfandsandresort.com/splashes


Chef David Fuñe’s Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

• 16 ounces sugar
• 16 ounces cream
• 16 ounces peanut butter
• Water as needed

Place sugar in pot with enough water to moisten all granules. Cook until it starts to caramelize slowly (turning amber in color). Pour in the cream and constantly stir. Take off stove, add peanut butter, mix and let cool.

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