It's been quite a busy few months that I haven't even been able to touch my blog. There's a few posts in the works showcasing my winter desserts (as we sit here through the April showers LOL). This chocolate mousse has been on the menu for a few weeks, and I am excited by the feedback and general popularity. Let's be serious though, when has chocolate not been a hit? Anyway, this is one of the desserts that had been floating around in my head, so here goes. Milk chocolate mousse (we use Valrhona Jivara 40%) is molded in a cube and then sprayed with a mixture of cocoa butter and Valrhona Manjari 64%. It is garnished with chocolate cremeux (Valrhona Extra Bitter 61%), chocolate cake, and chocolate rocks. The chocolate cake is technically steamed in the microwave, making it delicious and spongy. The chocolate rocks are a combination of cacao nib, cocoa powder, butter, and flour that has been mixed with tempered chocolate and afterwards dusted with confectioner's sugar and a bit of tapioca maltodextrin. As they are technically called chocolate rocks, I like when mine resemble coral and have crazy irregular shapes. Note to self: experiment with other flavors. All of this is paired with a maldon sea salt sherbet. I like to jokingly call it salted milk but it is very addictive. Sweet and salty. I love this dessert because it is purely focused on chocolate through percentages, flavors, textures, and different techniques with the maldon sea salt accenting the chocolate notes.
I didn't start out with this dessert in mind. Actually, a lot of my desserts never end up being what I originally imagined. I had thought of a lime white chocolate hazelnut cake and wondering what other vanilla, buttery flavor I could pair with it. As I worked more and more on the dish, I was drawn to stronger flavors, such as green tea and different acidic notes, like yogurt and pineapple. In this dish is a hazelnut cake, topped with a lime white chocolate mousse. I paired it with a green tea lime crumble, made with almond flour, for a depth of flavor. Pineapple chips would add a great texture and would complement the lime. Of course, there is green tea and yogurt ice cream to finish it all up. It's refreshing and light for the summer days ahead. I think this is why I am always excited when thinking of new and different desserts. No matter what you start out with, the end product is always a bit of a surprise. I always wonder what the end result will be, or even if there is a kind of end result to a dish. Even when I revisit a previous dessert, it never ends up exactly the way I made it the first time. There are always new tweaks or something different to be done. That's what makes it exciting. Food should never be stagnant, there should always be something different. Because the ingredients we use come from nature, and nature is never a carbon copy, it evolves.
Recently, I have been working on a dessert version of a popular summer snack, prosciutto & melon. There's nothing quite like a cold, sweet juicy slice of melon wrapped in salty prosciutto while dining al fresco and sipping a chilled glass of prosecco. This idea occurred to me when, half-joking, a cook gave me prosciutto scraps and suggested I make ice cream out of it. Someone mentioned prosciutto and melon and BAM, I was taking them up on their offer of prosciutto scraps. I decided on a prosciutto ice cream, fresh honeydew melon, olive oil cake, balsamic reduction, and ricotta, yogurt, and mint sauce.The addition of balsamic, olive oil, and mint are reminiscent of the original prosciutto and melon. I fried the prosciutto until crispy, before infusing it in milk and heavy cream mixture overnight. The resulting liquid end up making a delicious sweet, salty, and bacon-esque eggy ice cream. I didn't want to put actual prosciutto pieces in the dessert, since those slivers of salty goodness can overpower all the other subtle flavors at work. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for really amazing honeydew melon to pop up at the market before making it part of the dessert repertoire. Now everyone in the kitchen are offering me scraps chicken skin and pork blood and challenging me to make ice cream with them. Take note future pastry chefs, savory cooks will do this quite often. Sigh.
We're in the midst of rhubarb season and I'm ready to call it quits. Sure, it's got great acidity, but so do lemons. Otherwise, I can't seem to get on the rhubarb fan bandwagon. I have been known to call it the pink celery (my lack of enthusiasm regarding celery is quite known at work). My feelings are neither love or hate, just meh, which is how it becomes when you overcook it. I decided to update one of my menu dessert staples with some rhubarb, since it is in season. Sometimes, playing with an ingredient is enough to get you started. Now, I currently have it as a garnish and sorbet in the restaurant and a whole week of rhubarb & strawberry crumble piping hot and bubbly with a side of luscious whipped cream coming next week at the cafe. I'm easily won over.
Now that we're nearing the end of winter, brainstorming for Spring desserts have become my biggest priority. When thinking of a new seasonal menu, I never think of flavors together, but rather ways in which to highlight an ingredient. My idea was to play around with citrus, a bridge between winter and spring. What better way than to make a fruit curd. Popular curd flavors include lemon, lime, and orange. My favorite flavor of curd happens to be grapefruit. I love how the bitter grapefruit is tamed with the addition of eggs, sugar, and butter. The biggest surprise of this dessert happens to be the crumble. It is a basic green tea crumble, but it's the flavors that are added after that makes it come alive. This entire dessert brings about flavors and ideas people are familiar with, such as curd or a crumble, but it is the way it has been treated that makes the familiar new.