Sunday, August 29, 2010

French Toast... again

Having used brioche as a filling for a candy bar (see previous posting) it occurred to me that it can also be used for actual individual desserts. In the one below it is used as an inclusion. The components are:

Base: crispy feuilletine with cinnamon, milk chocolate and butter

Inclusion: brioche soaked in a white chocolate ganache with rum, vanilla and cinnamon

Body: mascarpone, maple sugar, gelatin

Coat: milk chocolate velvet spray.

This is one of my favorite new desserts. The flavors of breakfast inside a dessert.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

McGee and Me

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to present a talk (with Chris Loss, Ph.D, Department Chair of the Menu Research Department at the CIA) at the Flavor Research Workshop organized by the American Chemical Society. Our subject was "Emerging Culinary Perspectives on Flavor". We were the last to present and it was a combination of PowerPoint and tastings of different items as you can see in the tray below. For me the highlight though was to finally meet Harold McGee in person; he was there just to attend and not present, but to be one of the people presenting to someone like him is pretty intense.

I was not expecting him to be so tall but there you have it. I spent about ten minutes talking to him and it turns out he's quite a nice man and is more than happy to talk shop. I always assumed he'd heard the same story each time, chefs like me thanking him for his work, but he was very gracious and appreciative. Also, he owns my book, Frozen Desserts. I was not prepared for that, so I just thanked him (what else could I do?). I wonder what he thinks about it? He was a bibliographical resource for it, frequently cited.

One of the items that I made for this event was my Maple and Bacon Candy Bar. It is a bar made of dark chocolate (64%), filled with a slice of brioche, soaked with a very fluid ganache made with white chocolate, cream, maple sugar, vanilla and cinnamon (and Vodka to reduce water content and extend its shelf life without affecting flavor... it really just evaporates).

This ganache is meant to emulate the custard in French toast, as far as texture and flavor. The bar is then capped and before it sets it is sprinkled with bacon praline and Fleur de Sel. The bacon praline is simply equal parts bacon and a dry caramel. This keeps the bacon from going stale and soft, and gives it a coveted crunch, necessary in bacon (who wants soggy bacon? Answer: no one). The bag is then filled with cinnamon air using the Volcano Vaporizer, and then the bag is sealed to keep the aroma in. The experience is meant to emulate breakfast, as far as aromas, flavors and components... all inside a chocolate bar.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I love Danish. Well made Danish. I don't particularly care for what has happened to Danish in the U.S.A. though. It is has become something completely unrecognizable from its origins in Eastern Europe, what with the slathering of goopy fruit fillings (better suited for pies really) and pastry cream and brioche-soft doughs without a trace of laminated dough to be seen or felt... barely a resemblance to what it should be. I believe Danish should be flaky and light as air. I believe Danish should be left to proof and bake with nothing to weigh them down, such as the goopy fillings I mentioned. I believe they should be filled after they are baked, which will also preserve their flakiness for longer.

I developed a recipe and a method for it (The Modern Cafe) and I am very happy with the results it gets. After publishing the method in TMC (I would pipe raw batter into the dough and then proof and bake them together with great results), I thought to change the approach slightly, and build Danish as I would build an entremet (cake). This particular Danish is a great example of what I mean. Inside it, there is s square of dried plum (ok... prunes) financier cake, already baked. The Danish is proofed and baked with the cake inside it, which helps give the Danish something to proof and bake around... for support if you will. After the Danish is baked, it is filled with a house made cashew butter and mascarpone cream, then topped with plum jam and a linzer cookie. so there's three different doughs here: danish, financier and linzer. It has two moist fillings: cashew butter with mascarpone and the plum jam. The ribbon and gold are merely decorative.

Now, this is a Danish.

Monday, August 9, 2010

It's choux again: Religieuses

Way back in April I posted about harnessing pate a choux here: http://http// .Part of that process involves these wonderful but largely under appreciated (at least in the U.S.; they are quite popular in France) pastries known as "Religieuses", or "Nuns". OK, so it assumes that all nuns are larger than life (rotund, some would say... come to think of it, there's another choux pastry known as pets de nonne, which refers to a bodily function you will have to look up on your own, performed by a nun... is there a secret dislike for nuns in France or would it be more of a term of endearment?), but you can kind of see the resemblance. It is basically a small choux stacked on top of a larger choux, both are filled with a flavored cream and glazed. This particular nun was filled with espresso pastry cream and coated with a shiny chocolate glaze.

This photo is only the tops, which I think on their own are easier to eat and can easily be used for mignardises.