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.
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.
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.
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.