Summer is flying by, it's already August! Taking advantage of this beautiful warm weather in NYC (minus that one week of humidity and rain), we are running a pina colada inspired special. This golden pineapple is a coconut semifreddo with a pineapple center. The center consists of fresh, diced pineapple cooked in brown sugar, rum, vanilla, orange, lemon, and a hint of cinnamon. The bottom is a soft and chewy coconut cake. The outside is sprayed with a light coating of Orelys chocolate and cocoa butter to create a light and thin shell. Orelys is part of Valrhona's newest line of blond chocolate and made with muscovado sugar (yes to unrefined sugar!) and it's notes of molasses go great with the coconut and pineapple. The crown of this pineapple is made with sliced, candied, and dehydrated pineapple. It's a refreshing and satisfying ending to a summer meal.
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.
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.
For the first dessert of 2015, I wanted to prepare something that would set the tone for the rest of the year. I prepared a chocolate mousse cake. It's a classic dessert, prevalent in numerous restaurants, and not that exciting. But when prepared perfectly with technique and good chocolate, it's irresistible. That's something to continue to strive for this year; prepare seemingly simple desserts but so extraordinarily well that it leaves an impression. This dessert is comprised of chocolate mousse and chocolate biscuit (Valrhona Jivara 40%), glazed with chocolate sauce (Valrhona Manjari 64%), and decorated with chocolate shards (Valrhona Guanaja 70%). On the plate is white chocolate feulletine (Valrhona Ivoire 35%), cocoa powder (Valrhona 100% cocoa), and gold leaf.
When winter hits, pastry chefs love to pair beets and dark chocolate together. I get it, earthy beets highlight the sweet, bitter, and complex chocolate and it's delicious when done right. Yet I wanted to do something different. Why not black sesame? It has such a distinct and nutty flavor that will highlight beets. This black sesame cake is made with a mixture of flour, almond flour, and ground black sesame. Using the black sesame as part of the flour gives it a strong black sesame flavor, not to mention a cool color. The ganache is made with pureed red beets and white chocolate. White chocolate tends to be very sweet, so I like to err with caution and add the white chocolate to taste. Produce tastes differently from week to week, and some beets might be sweeter, or earthier depending on the time of the year. Use your palate to gauge the right amount of sweetness. The beet chips are made with simple syrup and cooked in either a dehydrator or low oven. They add a nice texture to the smooth ganache and soft cake. For a bit of spice, this is dessert is paired with a lemongrass & ginger ice cream.