Coming off the Valetine's Day menu, probably my favorite dessert I have ever done (and I hate the word "favorite"). With it being a very romantic holiday, I wanted a dessert that was totally for the woman. What else does a woman want for Valentines other than: chocolate, flowers, strawberries and a big jar of nutella? The chocolate is a bittersweet creme, rich yet extremely soft as silk bound by agar and gelatin. Candied violets are crushed, giving the sweet perfume of flowers and crunch. A praline syrup swiped along the plate, dressed with candied hazelnuts and a brightly intensified hazelnut sherbet. Finally, I needed that classic trendy chocolate covered strawberry note. I went for a soft cassis meringue, a much more elegant flavor than the traditional strawberry, thus adding more sensual aromatics. The richness of the chocolate is balanched with the milky sherbet and notes of floral sweetness. This dessert is to me, a tribute to the beautiful woman. Sensual, soft, sexy, and elegant.
If you can't spend the day with your girlfriend for Valentine's day, you might as well name a dessert after her. This dessert, my favorite, is appropiatly titled:
Where do I begin? Sno Ball. This is more of a story than anything and it goes like this: Making ice cream one day, needing a flavor I went and gazed at the dry storage, waiting for inspiration. For some reason grenadine kept catching my eye, but to me this is not a "main ingredient" type thing, more of an accent. I went with it anyways, figuring it'd be a bright flavor for the soon to be spring (soon I hope). The base tasted good but still needed a push, introduce coconut. I was thinking of a coconut accent then tasting it once more then I knew what I gotten myself into. THE SNO BALL. I couldn't help to go back in time eating these things (yes I will admit it) with my dad, my treat when we went to the gas station. That bouncy texture with the sweet raw coconut taste. Once I commited to the art of "Pimp that Snack" I added raw coconut flakes to the base, giving it the sweet coconut aspect. Adding a string of coconut marshmallow and devil's food cake sent the Sno Ball into the modern world. Deconstructed? Maybe. I hate that word, to me even the simplest things could use an update.
The tartness of a cranberry is an amazing thing. Growing up my grandmother would make a cranberry salad consisting of crushed cranberries, cherry jello, pecans and pineapple. I couldnt say it was my favorite as a kid but it has defintely become my favorite dessert as I have gotten older. The tartness of the cranberry is combined with the acidic sweetness of the pineapple and the pecan cuts right through it all, amazing. Coming out of Thanksgiving I wanted to give this childhood classic a 2010 version. I think most people are turned off to the sour tartness of the cranberry, but given a tiny bit of sweetness, the flavor can be very appreciated. The tube is a simple gelatin based puree of cranberry, sugar, lemon and grenadine. The pecans are candied, toasted and ground with a touch of tapioca maltodextrin to absorb that little bit of excess oil. I knew I wanted to serve whole cranberries, so I poached them in a very lightly sweetened vanilla syrup, giving them an amazing texture and taste. An addition of vanilla sherbet adds just enough fat and creamyness to carry it all together.
Quiet funny that I try to make an elegant version of a cranberry dish, for it to look like a "can" of that ... not pleasant cranberry salad out of the can. Hmmm...
Beet. Styrofoam. Meringue. All of those, in one little entity. In the first exploration in trying my hand at a sugar-less meringue, the findings were pretty amusing. Just a bowl with egg whites, powdered egg whites and beet juice made a beautiful surprise. Dehydrated at 160f for about 8 hours, it had the texure and weight of styrofoam and mouth feel of dried cotton candy. As soon as you bite into it, its falls and fades away on the tongue. The flavor is the working point that needs editing, but the texture gives so many ideas.
Another try at the pumpkin seed oil. This time it is pumpkin seed oil struesul (say that three times fast). I candied pumpkin seeds, ground and sifted them. Next I made a regular streusel and added some pumpkin seed oil into it, making it bright beautiful green. After it was baked and cooled, I gave it a go in the robot coupe while drizzling a little more of the pumpkin seed oil into it. The extra oil gives it even more flavor and color, while making it more moist. Combining them both reminds me of the colors of fall; green changing into light browns and rust-like colors. The taste gives you the ultimate take of the pumpkin seed, nutty with a smooth finish.
While working on a new pumpkin dessert for the fall menu I stumbled upon something I've never seen before. I was lucky enough to get my hands on some very high quality pumpkin seed oil straight from Austria. Extremely green with intense smooth pumpkin flavor, other oils we've tasted don't come close. So how do I incorporate this amazing product into the dessert? I wanted to make a very intense thick foam. I first made a spiced syrup, consisting of cinnamon, clove and allspice. A little xantham gum to emulisfy the pumpkin seed oil into the syrup, a sprinkle of versa and into the ISI whip it went. Chilled for 24 hours, the result was not a thick foam by any means. I knew going into this that versa doesn't take too kindly to fats or oils, so the outcome may not be what I wanted. The very first second out of the ISI it is a thick foam, it hits the plate and fades into dozens of tiny bubbles, all popping. The result was really amazing to watch. Not at all what I wanted or expected, which makes the result even better. I think the transformation would be a beautiful touch to the plate and the taste is so light and spicy with a smooth pumpkin flavor, but needs to have a little more strength. Back to the drawing board...
I have wanted to take the brunch more into an Austrian direction for some time now, Austria meets America for brunch kind of direction. Researching traditional Austrian pastries I stumbled upon
Mohnkranzerl aus Hefeteig,
a sweet roll filled with a poppy seed filling with notes of cinnamon and lemon. Having a boss that is an actual living breathing Austrian is also a plus in testing new recipes ( he is a very good sport in tasting things new or old .... ). I took the normal cinnamon roll sweet dough and filled it with the poppy seed filling, except baking it whole versus cutting pieces and proofing. The filling generates this unique yet familiar aroma, both nutty and sweet. It needs a couple tweaks here and there but the overall end product was really great, even Austrian approved!