Special equipment: a leaf-shaped cutter 1 sheet parchment paper
Scrape the pods from half of the vanilla bean into the sugar and mix the vanilla in with the sugar to help remove any lumps and to evenly distribute the vanilla. Combine milk, vanilla sugar, and both zests in a small saucepan. Scald mixture over medium heat, cover, and let infuse for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bloom gelatin in water. Whisk dairy base in a medium mixing bowl until smooth. Remove gelatin sheets from water, reserving the water, squeeze out all excess liquid, and stir into milk mixture. Strain milk mixture into dairy base and stir until no lumps appear, being careful not to create air bubbles. Using a ladle, fill 4 individual flex pan molds about 3/4 of the way full. Cover and refrigerate until set.
Bloom gelatin in reserved water. In a small saucepan, bring orange juice to a boil then remove it from the heat. Remove gelatin sheets from water and squeeze out excess liquid. Stir into the hot orange juice. Cool orange juice mixture to about room temperature. Once cooled, ladle on top of set panna cotta to fill the flex molds all the way.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Using a sharp chef's knife, cut 4 (1/16-inch thick) slices from the middle of the apple, ensuring slices are even in thickness and are large enough to accommodate a leaf cutter; pieces on outer edges of apple (which will not accommodate cutter) must be reserved in lemon juice for further use in apple raisin cranberry compote. Using a leaf cutter, center the cutter on each apple slice and press firmly to ensure sharp cutout. Dip cutout apple leaf in simple syrup and place dipped cutout onto a silicone baking mat. Bake for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until golden brown (to insure even cooking, rotate pan as needed).
Heat apple cider in a saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Cool and transfer to a squeeze bottle.
Heat cranberry juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Cool and transfer to a squeeze bottle.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Toast oats on a baking sheet in the oven until slightly brown.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add toasted oats to mixture and blend well. Press oat mixture into fluted molds (about same size as panna cotta molds) and bake for approximately 5 minutes until browning occurs. Let rest a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes and then transfer for use as base in assembling dessert.
Using a chef's knife, cut reserved, already peeled apple into precise 1/4-inch dice, avoiding any peelings, core, or seeds. Reserve. In small saute pan, combine cider, orange juice, honey, and cinnamon. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil and reduce by half. Add the reserved diced apples, raisins, and cranberries. Bring compote to a simmer and cook until apples are tender. Adjust seasoning with salt, to taste.
Using bain-marie set-up, slowly heat 4 ounces chocolate until melted smooth. Using seeding method, add remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Make a parchment piping bag. Fill piping bag 3/4 full with chocolate, folding opening to avoid spilling. Cut a small opening at the tip of the piping bag.
Pipe a triangular shape onto a clean, dry, dessert plate, being sure to start and end where panna cotta will rest. Pipe second line, interweaving between first line. Once chocolate cools, carefully fill with apple cider reduction and cranberry reduction, alternating sauces. Repeat process for remaining 3 plates. If any undesired results occur, wash and dry plate, and repeat process.
Simmer both ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until slightly golden brown and caramelized. Remove from heat and cool until slightly thickened.
Using a large spoon, drizzle even lines onto a silicone baking mat. While caramel lines are still warm, mold around handle of wooden spoon, into even spirals. Let cool, and remove from spoon. Using kitchen shears, cut spiral to desired length ensuring clean edges. Repeat the above steps until you have 4 uniform spirals.
To serve: Carefully pipe the chocolate onto the plate in a ribbon design (start the piping at the 10 o'clock position). Place the granola base onto the plate in the 10 o'clock position covering the starting point of the chocolate. Dip a round cutter into warm water and use it to cut out the panna cottas, making sure not to break them. Once they are cut, unmold them from the flex pans and place on top of the granola base with orange side down. Top the panna cotta with about 1 tablespoon of the fruit compote. Using squeeze bottles with very thin tips, pipe sauces into piped ribbon, alternating sauces. Lastly garnish the panna cotta with the sugar spirals. Stick it straight through the compote and into the top of the panna cotta, being careful not to break the sugar. Rest apple chip upright against panna cotta and serve.
Place sugar and water in saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring to boil. Remove from heat when boiling. Use 1/4 cup for apple chip production. Leave remaining mixture in saucepan and set aside for further use in sugar garnish.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Christopher Schmidt, Acworth, Georgia, Dessert Category grand prize