This is a dessert I did in the midst of Summer. In the heart of winter I am clearly reminiscing of warmer weather. I remember spotting these strawberries teeming in their blue cardboard boxes at the farmer’s market, beckoning and glistening in the sun like rubies. I just had to have them. When produce is this ripe & delicious, always keep it simple (my motto!). These berries are cut and lightly sprinkled with sugar & a tiny drop of rosewater and left to sit for a few minutes. They are incased in a sugar cookie crumb, held lightly together with some melted butter, like a cheesecake base. I wanted them to be crumbly when a dessert spoon dived right in. I did a quick pickle with some nasturtium leaves in champagne vinegar. Enough for a slight tang to offset the punchy flavor, but not overly sour. The ice cream (really, sherbet) is a really good buttermilk. It’s sweet, peppery, tangy, & just refreshing enough to cool you down in the heat.
It's been a sunny season of eating fresh fruit and a lot of simple cooking. Earlier this summer I really wanted to create a different lemon tart, but still very familiar. I love a delicate & tangy lemon curd with an extra buttery tart base, a classic for a reason. It's common to top it off with a cloud of torched meringue, but I didn't want that. More decidedly, I didn't need that. Just some whipped cream with a touch of elderflower cordial and strawberries, the first of the season (can you tell how late this summer post is?). I find that in the summer whenever I am holding a piece of fruit or contemplating what to eat for dinner, less is more.
Because procrastination really doesn't pay off, I'm still posting desserts from this past Spring. This was our tasting menu dessert, comprised of a baked chocolate ganache, paired with chocolate rocks, chocolate mint, chocolate twigs, and passion fruit sorbet. The baked chocolate ganache is egg based, and we bake it in a water bath on low heat for one hour. It comes out with a beautiful crackly top, very similar to a brownie. We then freeze it to unmold, and when served room temp, it is the most luxurious flourless chocolate cake. This small disk is paired with a tart and refreshing passion fruit sorbet to cut through the richness, and the chocolate mint adds a fresh floral element as well. For texture, caramelized cacao nibs, chocolate rocks, and chocolate twigs add extra dimension. I love caramelized cacao nibs, as the sugar cuts through the bitterness of the nibs. When pairing nibs (dried, roasted, and fermented chocolate in its purest form) with a dark chocolate cake (an altered state of the beginning), both lift each other up.
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?
Finally, a Spring dessert! I call this, pistachio ³ (actually it's just pistachio parfait on the menu lol). I adore pistachios, especially the bright green Sicilian variety and decided to add it as part of the Spring & Summer dessert menu. This dessert is a pistachio parfait, a frozen dessert made with cream, eggs, and sugar. To get a rich pistachio flavor, we use a combination of ground pistachio paste, including one made in house. On the bottom is a very thin dacquoise, made with pistachio flour which acts as a base. The entire parfait is then sprayed with a Valrhona Opalys white chocolate spray for a neat finish (and a nice cocoa butter snap). It is paired with a steamed pistachio cake and lime yogurt. The crumble is flavored with fresh lime zest, chopped sicilian pistachios, and green tea. The crumble is sweet, acidic, and earthy thanks to the green tea. So far in the season, the most beautiful things at the market is rhubarb, which we use for the sorbet. All of these components are combined with a strawberry and rhubarb sorbet. On top is a crunchy pistachio honey tuile and it is finished with red-veined sorrel, a lovely acidic addition.