Now that summer is winding down, I am taking stock of all the desserts that I didn't post from the year. Last fall, this was the star. A classic philadelphia cream cheese cake paired with a graham cracker crumble, concord grape sorbet (my favorite flavor!), concord grape meringue, and market grapes. It was a simple dessert, pairing two of my favorite childhood flavors, concord grape jelly and cheesecake. You have to use Philadelphia cream cheese to get that creamy unctuous goodness. And fresh concord beats out any jam from the supermarket. So I wonder, how can I improve this dessert for the coming Fall?
I know Summer has arrived when there is the sound of ice cream trucks wafting through the humid air, there is a quiet stillness in the air, and all I want is something refreshing and cold, especially dessert. One of my favorite things to eat when it is sweltering out is ice cream, hence this dessert that is currently on the menu. This sweet dish is reminiscent of a Creamsicle, with its orange curd, and vanilla-flecked quark cheesecake. I was inspired when using quark, a fresh cheese, and citrus together, just how much it reminded me of a classic orange Creamsicle. This dessert is an homage to the hot summer afternoons of my childhood chasing down the ice cream truck for a cold treat. A quark cheesecake entremet is molded, with an orange curd center and vanilla cake on the bottom. The quark cheesecake is flecked with vanilla beans, lemon and orange zest. There is orange sauce on the bottom to boost the orange flavor. All this is paired with a tarragon sherbet and orange sorbet that has been swirled together, adding another element of Creamsicle flavor. For texture, we add a white chocolate meringue, using Valrhona Opalys, the white chocolate adding depth to the dairy elements in the dish. To finish this off, anise flowers, for a fennel-esque kick to aid the hint of tarragon flavor. All this equals a very light and refreshing dessert, an adult homage to a childhood classic.
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.
Continuing my series of winter desserts in the Spring (whoops!), here is one that is no longer on the menu. We participated in Restaurant Week this January-February and I came up with a riff off of our current cheesecake (on the next post!). It features ricotta cheesecake, pistachio cremeux, Sicilian pistachios, blood orange segments, and blood orange sorbet. We were receiving the most heavenly blood oranges during this time, and something this simple was perfect to showcase the fruit. On a dreary and cold winter day, it's nice to have a bright, citrusy, and refreshing plate in front of you.
This dessert was made out of the desire for the warm weather to just arrive. And arrive it has. The first of shipment of rhubarb is here and they are beautiful. I wanted something simple to showcase the rhubarb, and went with a cheesecake/baked crumble approach. This dessert consist of a quark cloud cheesecake, vanilla cake, white wine poached rhubarb, rhubarb raspberry sauce, and crushed crumble. I like adding crushed raspberries to poached rhubarb as a natural food coloring, as sometimes the green stalks can turn the final product a muddy brown. When the warm weather arrives, desserts tend to become simpler. The fruits that are coming into season are delicious alone, and they need a light hand to really showcase their true flavors. If you're wondering what quark is, it's a fresh dairy product that is similar in taste to a cream cheese, or sour cream although with more tang. It can be considered a fresh cheese, although some methods in producing it do not contain rennet. Alone, it's a delicious snack (and cheesy spread when strained in cheesecloth overnight), but like any other fresh dairy product, can really be delicious when paired with seasonal fruits. I probably would have never heard of it if it wasn't for working for a German chef as it is common in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.