My Fall cheesecake (concord grape, graham cracker, and a classic Philadelphia cream cheese cheesecake) was a big hit, so changing it up for Winter made me a little nervous. You never want to disappoint with cheesecake and you definitely do not want to change it to something worse. This is a ricotta cheesecake (light and creamy, thought not as heavy as a cream cheese based batter), paired with saffron poached seckel pears, hazelnut crumble, cinnamon ice cream and vanilla caramel. The pears are lightly poached in white wine, saffron, vanilla, orange & lemon zest, cinnamon, and star anise. The hazelnut crumble has almond flour for extra nuttyness and hazelnuts that have been toasted and caramelized. I have been told the cinnamon ice cream is reminiscent of cinnamon toast crunch (goal!). The warm caramel sauce drizzled over ice cream and the cheesecake makes this cheesecake comforting delicious and irresistible.
It's hot hot hot outside! Hot and humid weather makes me crave something tropical to survive this heat. This dessert is a mango pineapple chocolate milk chocolate mousse cake with a caramel glaze, mango sauce, dehydrated pineapple chip, and cocoa cake crumble. It's a pretty straightforward dessert considering I had to plate a LOT of these at one time. I love combining tropical fruits with milk chocolate, just because the acidity enhances all the caramel and sweet, floral notes of the chocolate, namely Valrhona Caramelia 36% chocolate. I love caramel paired with chocolate so I couldn't resist adding it as the glaze for the cake. For texture, I used a cocoa cake crumble (an irresistible snack on its own..) and a candied dehydrated pineapple chip.
Naturally, the first fall dessert to debut on the menu has to include pumpkin! Pictured are pumpkin white chocolate ganache, pumpkin seed oil semifreddo, caramelized pumpkin seeds, splatters of pumpkin seed oil, fraises de bois (while they are still available at the market!), and sunflower sprouts. The acidity of the strawberries add a nice contrast to the richness of the ganache and semifreddo. Most people use pumpkin puree exclusively in a dessert, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I wanted to do something different. Lucky for me, working for a German pastry chef introduced me to the wonders that is pumpkin seed oil. The pumpkin seed oil is delicious, rich and nutty, with the flavors further enhanced by vanilla in a semifreddo. Sunflower sprouts usually show up in salads, but I just adore them in a dessert. They are so delicious, crunchy, and nutty. It adds an interesting vegetal element to the dessert, with the nuttiness from the sprouts echoing the pumpkin seed oil.
Petit fours can make or break a person's restaurant experience. When VIP's, friends, and guests come to eat, the last impression is dessert. I like to leave a big impression with a small bite, and I do that with petit fours. After a large meal and many courses, people tend to want a small bite to satiate their sweet tooth. Usually guests can look forward to chocolates, macarons, or pate de fruit as an ending, but I thought it would be nice to try something different. Why not mini tarts and cream puffs? While not exactly ground breaking, I like playing with familiar flavors and making them bite-sized. First is a smores tart with a graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache, and toasted meringue. After is a lemon meringue tart with a vanilla crust, lemon curd, toasted meringue, and citrus tuile. Next is all chocolate with a chocolate crust, chocolate ganache, cocoa nib streusel, and Valrhona crunchy pearls. Last but not least is a salted caramel cream puff topped with a generous pour of chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of caramelized hazelnuts. Small bites with a bang.