Tag: dessert

Seeing Tres

 

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Early summer’s rendition of 3 leches:

Lemon-poppy seed cake with buttermilk added to the traditional three milk soak, rhubarb preserves, fresh market strawberries, confit lemon, strawberry chantilly, violet meringue.

Light and bright like spring’s glorious rays warming up our frosty skin, delicate like those first flowers brave enough to poke out of the hard ground, melts in your mouth like fresh spun cotton candy.

Flavors mimic a sweet tart candy, just sour enough to make you crave another subtly sweet bite.  A disappearing crunch, a creamy cloud texture, a cartwheel of flavors to carry you home.

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Visions and Delusions

  1. My desserts are going to be better than those at Rick Bayless’ new restaurant.
  2. I was going to pair the tamarind cake roll with caramelized plantain ice cream, but then decided to go with horchata instead.  Why?  Because it sounds better for summer.  But, Since Chef Bayless has a “butter-roasted plantain” ice cream, I think I might have to return to the original idea.  Obviously because mine will be better.
  3. I need to talk to some people about how to design the menu, make it look as cool as it is.  Rick Bayless has this fire and ice theme going on, which is only sorta cool.  It’s a little too played up.  I want my elemental theme to be downplayed, but still somehow acknowledge visually or descriptively.  You know, to build viewer hype, like I don’t want dessert, but since that one is on fire make we should try it?  Yeah, like that.
  4. Rick Bayless is a celebrity chef, and has no idea who I am.
  5. Ok, ok so El Che seems to be very close to Rick Bayless’ newest restaurant.  I am not worried, just a little disappointed because when I saw the kitchen under construction at El Che, I was impressed because I had never seen anything like it.  But now I have and it is at the new restaurant across the damn street.
  6. My desserts are going to be better than those at Rick Bayless’ new restaurant.

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.

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.

 

 

Dissecting Microscopic Details

What I like about working with a controlled and highly selective area of cooking is that it really lets you dive into the diversity of a singular resource.  For example, I use many different kinds of sweeteners in my dishes.  I resort to refined white sugar only when necessary when make a caramel or meringue when you absolutely need pure sugar for the process to be successful.  Other than that, I use all sorts of raw, unrefined, fruit sourced, and naturally occurring sweeteners to add a unique flavor profile that highlights the quintessential sweet sensation of the last course.  My desserts are not just sweet, they are interesting, which in turn makes them memorable.

I have been thinking a lot about alternative fat resources, which includes using coconut oil a lot more.  Bacon has a been a recent dessert phenomenon, a movement which I have embraced, but what about other animal fats?  Sheep, cow, duck?

I have also been thinking about how yeast can affect the flavors of the final product. Baking yeast is highly commercialized, serving a function more than a flavor.  You increase the yeasty flavor with time- as in sour dough and fermented yeast, but think about how brewers use different strands of yeast to change a define a flavor of their brew?  Can I do that with baking?  With bread?  With cake?  Crossings, brioche, muffins, doughnuts?

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.

Toasted Love

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Finding flavors alive in the dead of winter is not the same as the flourishing spring, but we can still get that feeling of excitement and jubilee in this frozen wonderland.

For this dish I focus on the flavor of the amazing Maillard reaction, or more widely know as toasted.  The Maillard reaction is similar to caramelization , but the flavor is not as strong.  This is the magic spot that occurs before caramel, it is a browning process when the sugar reacts with amino acids, around 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is what happens when you put bread in the toaster, it is what happens when you start to smell the cookies baking in the oven.  The Maillard is amazing, and I love it.  That is why I chose to focus on this beautiful reaction for Valentine’s  day brunch: I did it for love.  I did it because Milliard represents that toasty warm feeling of butterflies in your stomach, stars in your eyes, a smirk on your lips, a giggle under your breath.  The feelings of love, the feeling a coziness, the feeling of comfort, content, and closeness.

I want to represent various flavors of the browning process, to create a subtle yet complex taste.  There is caramelized white chocolate ganache – toasty, sweet, creamy, and downright heavenly, brown butter milk solids- nutty, rich, and aromatic, oatmeal streusel- for texture and to add comfort, a touch of cinnamon for warmth, and finally a coffee cake sweetened with unrefined sugar- to add depth, to add a unique sweetness, to add character.  This is topped with a light sherry vinegar and unrefined sugar glaze, to add pop to the sugar, to give definition to the toasty and sweet flavor profiles.

The taste of love, the feeling of comfort, the joy of winter.