Category: dessert

Rice Pudding Parfait

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This rendition of the classic rice pudding dessert truly highlight the humble grain of rice.

It’s a rice on rice concept, one that makes the most out of one ingredient.  The rice is cooked in horchata-  a Latin American drink made from water soaked in rice, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. This flavor is highlighted by first toasting the rice in the horchata and in the rice pudding itself.

The dish is served with candied almonds, to bring out the almond flavor in the horachata, to match the toasted flavor in the rice, to add a necessary crunch to the mushy pudding.

The horchata rice pudding, rice on rice custard, is also served with diced raw banana and a caramel sauce made from Guanabara beer- A Brazilian Imperial stout made with raw cane sugar.  The caramel sauce is additionally sweetened with raw cane sugar- in this instance piloncillo, a Mexican version that is readily available.  The banana and beer go great together, each drawing out the flavors of one another.  The grain of the beer pairs well with the toasted rice, unifying all the flavors.

To further draw out the raw sugar flavors present in the beer, and the natural sweetness of the banana, the horchata rice pudding is sweetened with demerara sugar- it’s like sugar in the raw but just slightly less processed, having a nice raw flavor to it.  The only processed white sugar in the dish is presented in the candied almonds- here it is necessary because the almonds are caramelized slightly, and this can only be done with a purified sugar else it will burn.

This dish is finished off with long, thin crisps made from almond meal, banana purée, and rice flour to add height and another crunch dimension.

This dish is presented in layers in a parfait style to give class to this common food item, to showcase the subtle flavors that all tie together nicely to highlight the simple grain of rice.

Rolling with the Flavor

Brigadeiros is a traditional Brazilian delicacy,  an iconic cultural treat that is eaten by anyone and everyone in every part of the country.  This unifying treat is eaten at celebrations, parties, and is seen as a gourmet item.  The brigadeiro is basically a Brazilian style truffle.  It is a very popular confection, and seeing how I work in a Brazilian restaurant, I decided to give this treat a try.

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Being the lady that I am, I cannot keep anything basic, so I took the original and tweaked it a bit.

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The traditional way uses sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and chocolate as the filling, and it rolled in chocolate sprinkles.  I used dulce de leche in place of the sweetened condensed milk, added more chocolate, and rolled this concoction in a streusel made from milk powder, flour, and caramelized white chocolate. This truffle is finished with a nice pinch of salt to draw out all the sweet flavors.  Caramel and salt is a very nice flavor combination, each enhancing one another, like sweet does to sour.  (For those who do not know, salt is the secret ingredient in pastry).

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The goal was enhance the flavor, to bring out a more caramel and toasted flavor notes, to make a more dimensional treat.

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The end product is delicious, very toasty (my favorite flavor) and chocolaty.  I have made the treat even better, while paying homage to the tradition behind this iconic confection.

Downsizing

Narrowing down the list of prospective concepts down to a more approachable number than 11, we are down to 4 (not counting the cookie), thanks.

Fire Cake: dulce de leche cake, caramel, fire ancho marshmallow, magic

Smoking Pionono: Tamarind Cake Roll, Crunchy Fluff, Smoking Cashews, Hot Cajeta Drizzle, Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Carbonated Chocotorta: Chocolate Maciena Cookie Stack, Cannoli Crema, Fizzing Strawberry Meringue, Chocolate sorbet, Carbonated Strawberries, Pistachio

Argentinean Float: Fernet Ice Cream, Mexican Cocoa Cola, Rum Cherries, Candied Almonds, Milk Foam

Alfajore de Macienca: shortbread sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche

Additional Items, not listed on the dessert menu:

Potato Focaccia with Malden Salt and Olive Oil

Dulce de batata: a sweet potato candy offered with the dessert menu

Ok, that is all for now…

 

3 Leche Spring

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Because the concept of the 3 leche cake- a Latin American iconic confection, a cake soaked with 3 types of milk until soggy, is limited to white cake and milk soak.  I love this concept and I want to build upon this classic dessert with a curious twist, with fanciful flavors, and whimsical undertones.

In this rendition, I made a cajeta sweetened cake (cajeta is goat’s milk and sugar cooked down to a caramel flavor and consistency- when it is cooking it fills the entire restaurant with the scent of snickerdoodle cookies.  This is a heavenly smell and produces an equally heavenly end product) that is then soaked with the traditional 3 leches, but with goat’s milk replacing the cream, and further fortified with chocolate to make a unique chocolate milk soak.  This lightly sweet, slightly chocolaty and caramel cake is served with Brazil nut streusel (for crunch and a nice nut flavor that resembles the Macadamia nut), acai purée (a small dark purple berry valued for its high nutritional content and subtle blueberry flavor), candied cocoa nibs (a pure form of chocolate) to enhance the chocolate notes in the dish, and cajeta chantilly (whip cream sweetened with cajeta) to balanced out the heavy liquid with a cloud like aura.

This dish is reflective of the season.  This is a spring dish in the ingredients used, the textures represented, and the earthy presentation.  This dish is modeled after the soggy spring, with lush, muddy ground waiting to sprout new growth.  The chocolate soak mimics the wet and fertile ground.  The streusel mimics broken up, freshly tilled soil in appearance and texture.  Because of limited local seasonal availability,  I used the hard to source acai berry to add a fruity flavor that interacts very well with the established flavors of the cake.  Early spring, right off winter, is the season to focus on frozen and preserved foods, and highlight them in the menu when you have the chance to search to globe for ingredients.  If you are going to use a frozen product, you mind as well use one that invokes curiosity and is not readily available to the average person.

Finally the whipped cream adds such a soft touch, light as the spring’s warmth, to round of the overall mouth feel.  The flavors are not too bold, except for the tiny explosion of flavor in the cocoa nibs- as a final lasting impression.

 

 

El Che Ingredients

I got a sneak peak at the menu, and I saw some things that I would like to incorporate into the pastry menu:

Duck eggs- maybe a custard?  What else highlights eggs in dessert other than a custard of sorts?  Noting, the answer is nothing.

Yerba Mate- I want to use this as a sauce, it can add a bitter and fun element, good for the Argentinean theme.

Brioche- do I make this?  Probably time I figure that out. Can I stuff it with cheese, and deep fry it?  Gooey fried dough, with a sharp cheese.  Delicious.

English peas- to go with a strawberry dessert, a freeze dried strawberry pavolva, the peas with a cream, or ricotta.  Ricotta flor di latti?

House ricotta- I want to make cheese and ricotta is great in dessert, just ask the Italians.

 

Elemental Inspirations

The four elements of western culture are earth, air, fire, water.  The goal is to include these concepts in the dessert menu, to create a memorable experience and one the ties the diner to a deeper meaning than simply consuming food.  Eating, we take for granted, simply because since it is done so often it becomes mundane.  I am not of the opinion that Americans truly value everything that goes into their mouth as building block of who we physically are and who we become.  Dessert is not nutritious by nature, and I am not trying to make “healthy” desserts.  Dessert is a treat, and should be viewed as one- something special, something to make you feel good.  The reasoning behind wanting to incorporate classical earth elements is to subconsciously tie you back to the history of food, to mimic fundamentally how modern cuisine was formed, to tie the present into the constant past.  We are a reflection of our ancestors, we have a lineage drawing back to the basic building blocks of life.

How can I show respect to the four corners of life through a sweet dish?

Sounds like a challenge.

Geometrical Patterns

Ok, ok so if art is breaking the rules, that means that you take something that you normally try to avoid and twist it around some so that the negative becomes something you embrace, transforming in the bad into the good.

Today’s topics: crystallization.    This is the reorganization/unstable transformation of the structure of a substance, normally making it an inferior/subpar quality.  Primary examples include: butter once it has melted, does not solidify the same, chocolate will bloom if it has not been properly melted down, ice cream will get gritty if ice crystals form from the latent water content.

Granite, or shaved ice, has been around for a long time.  This technique takes a solid frozen confection, then shaves the ice block to form a slushie.  This takes advantage of the ice crystals to create a both a liquid and a solid, both a wet and a textured product.

This method is a precursor to ice cream, a continually rotated while freezing invention, where the solidifying happens at such a small scale, that when initially frozen, this product is still a liquid (think soft serve ice cream)

What I need to focus on is the beauty of naturally occurring ice patterns.  These are highly visually appealing, perfectly symmetrical, yet all so unique.  Normally this is avoided, but what if I purposely form these as a decoration?

 

 

 

Cheesecake and Chocolate, With All the Frills

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Catupiry Cheesecake
Bittersweet baked ganache, guava meringue, passion fruit, chocolate mousse
Catupiry is an iconic Brazilian cheese spread, the country’s fresh, unaged, simple cheese.  Here it is used as a base for the cheesecake, which is baked on top of ganache cake. This is a take on the American classic cheesecake dessert, and the regional black bottom dessert.  Traditionally this is made on top of a chocolate cake or brownie, but I wanted a richer tasting and gluten free version, so I replaced the cake with a baked ganache.
Catupiry is regionally served with guava paste, as a cheese course, or as a dessert.  I took this flavor pairing a step further to incorporate the Ecuadorian street food treat espumilla- essentially meringue made with guava puree.  This meringue is dehydrated to concentrate the flavor and to add a textural element to the dish.
The passion fruit is added to enhance that Latin aspect of the dish, as well as to add an acidic element.  Passion fruit has a distinct flavor, irreplaceable on the tongue.  I formed the purée into pearls, to mimic the raw form of passion fruit, all the flavor but without the seed.
Milk chocolate mousse is to complement all the flavors of the dish, while creating a chocolate forward concept.  The texture of the mousse adds to the overall mouth feel.
The dessert is plated with squares of the ganache cake coated in lime sugar, to highlight the lime in the cheesecake and the rich, decadent ganache cake used as a base.
Gluten free, nut free.

All Together Now

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Apple allspice strudel with oatmeal streusel, bay leaf Bavarian cream, candied marcona almonds, rum cider glaze.

Apple strudel with streusel, just because it’s hard to tell the two things apart.  I thought, let’s put them both on to save confusion.  The streusel compliments the strudel in this German themed dessert.

The apples are cooked lightly in sugar, butter, and rum, tie together with 3 layers of phyllo dough brushed with allspice infused butter, a lot of butter.  The rum is represented again in the glaze, because traditionally apple strudel is made with rum soaked raisins on the inside.  I skipped the raisins and doubled up on the rum to compensate for missing dried fruit bit.  The strudel is crisp, flaky, buttery, tender, and softly sweet on the inside.

The candied almonds add texture and provide light caramel flavor for added depth.  The oatmeal streusel adds another layer of crunch, because I am texturally obsessed when it comes to composing a plate.  That, and because who can remember which is the German dessert wrapped in layers of flaky dough, and which is like a cookie without the egg?

I love bay leaf with apples in the winter, the flavors go well together like two lovers holding hands.  Bavarian cream has a mousse like texture: fluffy, creamy, and smooth.  There is just the subtlest amount of cinnamon, just to warm it up a touch.  This dish is a rare example without any added vanilla, aka the flavor of the gods.  I skipped it because it can become commonplace, an ever represented ingredient that can sometimes get lost in the medley of flavors.  I wanted the bay leaf and the apples to shine on there own, taking center stage in the mouth.