CHRISTIAN GATTI'S BAVARIAN CREME

1 ounce gelatin

2 tablespoons rum

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

1 quart heavy cream

1 quart whole milk

1 vanilla bean sliced in half

lengthwise with seeds

removed, or 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

Pinch salt

3/4 cup sugar

12 egg yolks

1 cup white chocolate, chopped (if using white chocolate chips, add 4 tablespoons vegetable oil)

Sprinkle gelatin over the three liquors in a small bowl. Wait for a few minutes or until the gelatin has "bloomed," or softened. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside at room temperature. Place white chocolate in a large bowl and let sit at room temperature.

Place the milk, vanilla, pinch of salt and half of the granulated sugar in a medium-sized sauce pan. Scald the milk.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and second half of the sugar. Remove the vanilla-bean pod, if using, and slowly add the hot milk to the egg-yolk mixture, whisking all the while. Return the egg-milk-sugar mixture to the pot and cook over low heat until the mixture reaches 165 degrees or coats the back of a spoon.

Pour this hot custard directly over the bowl of white chocolate, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk the mixture well to melt the chocolate. Set this custard aside.

Set the bloomed gelatin over a small pot of simmering water to dissolve. Stir the liquefied gelatin into the white chocolate custard. Let the custard come to room temperature by setting the bowl in an ice bath, stirring constantly.

Add a third of the white chocolate custard to the room-temperature whipped cream and fold gently to combine. Repeat until all the custard has been used.

Pour mixture into a 2-quart mold. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight and up to three days.

To unmold the Bavarian: Set the mold in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds; put a serving platter upside-down atop the base of the mold and invert.