The second of my milk & pear pairing is this comforting dessert. With the cold weather, and post-holiday blues, nothing brings the warmth like familiar food that's full of buttery goodness. That was my inspiration for this dessert, especially the hazelnut brown butter cake. I love hazelnut cake in general, but amped up with brown butter, it's rich and divine. When paired with salted caramel, the cake is given a new dimension with the added sugar and salt. Add pears (poached in honey for a buttery finish), creamy milk ice cream, and crunchy caramelized hazelnuts, and this dessert is perfect for the cold days of January.
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.