Ah drama…it’s good to have it in life from time to time. And the same holds true for desserts. For me there’s no better way to cap off a luxurious meal than to have the waiter bring out an elegant and sometimes over-the-top plated dessert. My eyes grow wide and I might even let out a gasp. These are the types of desserts that make me want to be a pastry chef. I yearn for wide eyes, the gasps and the “wow.”
We were fortunate enough to have plated desserts added to our lab schedule, but it meant several hours of overtime and double labs. We didn’t care, it was time to break out the big guns: the gold leaf, the paint brushes, the hand pulled sugar rings. We were ready.
One of my favorite desserts of the week was called the Finger. The name does not really suit this dessert as it is elegant, sleek and not overly complicated. We topped a hazelnut biscuit with hazelnut pastry cream, added a second layer of biscuit followed by a layer of caramel. We cut it into uneven rectangles and topped with praline mousse and praline sauce piping, hazelnuts, chocolate cut outs and gold leaf.
Next was a Chocolat Moelleux, or molten chocolate cake. We made a chocolate almond base and filled it with ganache. Our last step was to pipe out Moelleux Chocolat over the ganache and bake it just before serving. If baked properly, the ganache will come flowing out when you cut into the cake.
For the Poire Belle Helene, we caramelized chunks of pear and thinly sliced them to layer on the bottom of the glass. We then froze small cones of fresh made vanilla ice cream and made a stem of molding chocolate for the inverted pear half. This was frozen onto a thin round of almond tuile with several small holes cut into it. We topped the tuile with the top of a poached pear and decorated it with almonds.
Just before serving, you pour chocolate sauce over the top pear and watch it drip through the tuile holes into the bottom of the glass.
Pistache Frambiose (Pistachio Raspberry) dessert was one of the most surprising for me. This dish toys with molecular gastronomy, something that’s heaps of fun but I have no real experience with. We painted the plate with raspberry citrus coulis and topped with a scoop of raspberry sorbet. Next we made a very stiff, dairy-free raspberry mousse that had a similar texture to marshmallows. We piped them into small pink meringue like shapes around the plate.
We made what was called Pistachio Biscuit Express which started out as an ordinary pistachio biscuit recipe; but we stored it in a whipped cream charger for several hours. We then used the charger and piped it out into small plastic cups which were microwaved for 40 seconds. This created a pistachio biscuit sponge that closely resembled sea foam. The texture was bizarre but the taste was divine and melted in your mouth.
We topped the pistachio biscuit with a generous piping of white chocolate pistachio ganache and small disks of white chocolate.
The Citron (lemon) was another hit. We started the main component with an almond biscuit, followed by a thin layer of lemongrass jelly. We then added a rectangle of white chocolate, followed by a yellow rectangular shaped macaron we made using silicone molds. We then piped out a dual piping bag of white chocolate, lemon grass cream and lemon coulis to create separate ribbons of yellow and white.
For the rest of the plate, we placed a few squares of lemongrass jelly; followed by the divine lemongrass fromage blanc ice cream over crushed opaline (baked sugar). I loved all the flavors of this dessert.
We also did a more modern twist on Baba Rhum, piping little balls of baba dough (similar to brioche) and soaking them in a refreshing mint syrup. We placed this over mint panacotta topped with strawberry puree. Each baba was decorated with a thing round of lemon opaline (sugar decoration) and silver leaf.
The most dramatic and complex of all the desserts was the chocolate exotique. We started with a round of mango passionfruit jelly, followed by a second round of chocolate sable (tart dough). We made a small chocolate sponge cake that was filled with mango passionfruit sorbet. Next we placed a chocolate disk, followed by a piping of whipped chocolate ganache and a second chocolate disk. We added a disk of frozen mango passionfruit pastry cream and larger handmade chocolate disk with holes cut into it. We added a ring of caramel opaline and hand pulled sugar rings, followed by one additional scoop of mango passionfruit sorbet. The plate was decorated with mango and passionfruit sauces as well as additional chocolate ganache.
I’ve never made anything so complicated in my life, but it was well worth it. The mango passionfruit sorbet was the best I’ve ever tasted and the moment I assembled this I gasped and said “Wow.”