Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Shape of a Chocolate Bar

I recently used an over sized dome mold to make a molded chocolate. The question was, is it a jumbo molded chocolate or is it a candy bar? It is 2.5 inches in diameter, so I think that it qualifies as too big for a traditional individual piece. On the other hand, a chocolate bar should have a "bar" shape. Where would this fit in? I would place it in the bar category, not for its shape but for its size. And it can very well be eaten as a bar.

This particular piece is cast in milk chocolate, filled with an Oatmeal Stout ganache and salted peanut praline.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Frozen Desserts - Now available in German: Wunderbar!

While you may or may not speak German, the new edition will be available in May, just in time for the summer. This edition is particularly sweet, since the German publisher asked to have all of the items in the book photographed, so you could say that this edition is the new and improved edition. The hope is that when the second edition of Frozen Desserts comes out in English, it will have the same increased amount of photography. It is more than 30 extra photos.

I saw the draft a few weeks ago and did not understand a word, but it was truly satisfying to see all of the items finally in a photo, courtesy of Ben Fink, the world's best food photographer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whole Wheat Sourdough

It's been a long time since I have posted on bread, and I thought that this bread was so spectacular, it was just time to talk about it a little bit.
This recipe was developed by one of my old sous, Chris Teixieira, a few years ago. He definitely has a way with bread. Recently we started using this recipe again and we have resurrected it for good, thanks to my head baker, Justen Nickel, bread-head number one at the cafe.

It has a very distinct wheaty - cerealy aroma with just enough sour to give it great character but not overwhelm it. The crust is firm yet brittle, and the crumb has an irregular structure that is only irregular in its regularity. It's hard to explain a proper crumb, but this one has it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Pat's Macs

Last Valentine's I posted about heart shaped macarons. I learned with this that macarons can be shaped into a variety of shapes, including a four leaf clover. These macarons are filled with a ganache flavored with Jameson Irish Whisky. How appropriate.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peaches and Cream

It may be a little early to get started on stone fruit, but I am done waiting for Spring to come along. This dessert only take the flavor elements from peaches and cream (which originally is poached peaches (or, God forbid, canned peaches) and heavy cream, sometimes sweetened and whipped). Not a bad dessert really if you actually use fresh peaches, perfectly ripe and then slowly poached.

In this case, we have a peach nectar jelly (on top), the body of the dessert is a vanilla cream (or Bavarian if you want to be fancy); the inclusion is a crunchy almond praline. We cook almonds in sugar and then intentionally crystallize the sugar. Once it cools down it is coarsely ground, combined with cocoa butter and then poured into a mold to set hard. Once it is hardened it can be unmolded and inserted into the vanilla cream before it sets.

The decor is a green chocolate nest (white chocolate colored green). This is done by drizzling very thin lines of melted green chocolate over frozen marble slabs, and then rolling it up before it hardens completely. Easier said than done though.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chausson aux Pommes

It's been a while since I posted about Danish, one of the beloved laminates we produce at the Cafe. I always try to come up with new shapes and ideas for Danish that are not your run of the mill pinwheels or bear claws. Those have been done... plenty, so why would they need to be done again. Pinwheels frustrate me, not because they are complicated, not at all, it's because the ratio of dough to filling is way off. It's like 95% dough vs 5% filling (topping, I suppose in the strict sense). It is usually pastry cream and fruit (typically a fruit that is way out of season, such as raspberries, star fruit and kiwi... blech). OK, so pastry cream is already cooked all the way, so you are going to put it on a Danish and bake it even further in the oven so it turns into a solid mass of overcoagulated yolk and starch. Nice. Smart too. (I hope that you detect the sarcasm here, because it is very wrong to use pastry cream in this way... very very wrong).

Having said that, I am not averse to classic shapes as long as they work and make sense. Hence the reason I decided to try out this very classic French pastry. Chausson aux pommes literally translates to Slipper with apples. Since I am also not a fan of pre-filling Danish with wet fillings (I always fill post-bake... this allows the dough to proof without the extra weight and expand properly and happily in the oven, and it stays crisp and flaky for much longer), I decided to just use the shape and fill it with something else. These babies are filled with an elderflower ganache, and they are just outstanding.

A final note: I am officially ready for some fruit to be in season. This is one thing I don't like about the Northeast. Fruit is a 6 month affair, and that's that.