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Amanda Rockman Breaks Down Three Desserts for Nico Osteria

Italian fudge in a coffee-walnut flan tart? That’s just the beginning of what she’ll bring out starting December 2nd.

Coffee-walnut flan tart at Nico Osteria   Photo: Derek Richmond

Amanda Rockman has rocked several of the major Chicago restaurant groups, plying her pastries at the Bristol and Balena (Boka Restaurant Group), L2O (Lettuce Entertain You), and in a few short weeks, at Nico Osteria (1015 N. Rush St., Gold Coast, 312-994-7100). That’s the newest venture from One Off Hospitality, whose many one-offs include Blackbird, Avec, and the Publican.

Those few short weeks—the team has circled December 2—feel tectonic after hearing Rockman enthuse about some of the desserts she’s working on:

  • Baba rum. Traditionally, a dried yeast cake is saturated with a citrus-and-spice simple syrup and rum. “I’m taking dates and rolling them into essentially date leather, [then] cutting them into perfect rectangles,” Rockman says. “Place the baba on top. A vanilla mascarpone cream, Madagascar cocoa nibs from Mast Brothers, sea salt, and to finish it—instead of straight rum at the table, I decided to make an amaro granita. That’s kind of our play.”
  • An Italian fudge called penuche, which she plans to use in a coffee-walnut flan tart. “[Penuche] is a brown-sugar fudge with walnuts, and a little bit of maple as well,” Rockman says. “I made it at Tru. I think that was the only time Rick Tramonto ever liked anything I made. I was 20 years old. I was kind of a punk. I think that was the thing that allowed me to keep my job.”
  • An affogato with bitter orange soda. “There’s a beautiful bitter bergamot flavor from the soda that’s really light and quite beautiful and interesting with the fior di latte gelato,” Rockman says.

She also mentioned homemade cornetti—the Italian analogue to croissants. “I am obsessed with cornetti,” she says.

We are obsessed with her obsessions.

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