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Plated Desserts

Fine apple tart with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream

I promised plated desserts (i.e. served on a plate, fancy-restaurant-style, for those unfamiliar with the terminology) and here they are!

We started off with some traditional desserts. However, being a new year full of changes, the chefs actually switched up the recipes for this class and gave us some new traditional dessert recipes to test out. In class, we made Grand Marnier Soufflés and these little apple tarts. Since there were so many things on the plate, we didn’t actually have to prepare the puff pastry for the tarts…a blessing for timing, but a bummer for our taste buds. The puff pastry was from – get this – the grocery store. A sacrilege!

The class went by pretty easily. We had a cuisine chef oversee this practical, and he very helpfully came to my side when my caramel sauce was about to finish cooking…and took over. He let the sauce sit for too long, though, and I wasn’t happy with the taste of the caramel sauce at all – it was burnt and bitter, yuck! One of our favourite chefs stopped by the kitchen when we were tasting our desserts, and he made a very unimpressed face when he tried my caramel sauce. Bah, what could I say?

The Grand Marnier soufflés were strongly flavoured with just the alcohol, nothing else. The recipe was interesting, though, as it is not a typical recipe from what the chefs told us. I found the texture quite light and springy, which was good. I am not a fan of a lot of alcohol in my desserts, but I’ll definitely be using the soufflé recipe as a starting point to make something else! (Also, too busy indulging in my tart with ice cream and caramel that I didn’t even bother taking pictures of our soufflés when they came out of the oven – oops!)

The second dessert we made was “contemporary” desserts, again with new recipes for 2012. Since our class was the first group to try to put these recipes into action, we followed the demonstration chef’s instructions on the order of preparation in the kitchen. We were to make a chocolate shortbread cookie base, creamy/frozen chocolate mousse-cream-disc, chocolate glaze for the top, cocoa nib crisps, and white chocolate ice cream (all within 2.5 hours, might I add, including plating and cleaning up). I think the order in which we began was totally wrong…we started off on a strong note, and then quickly got hindered by those damn cocoa nib crisps. They were delicious and easy to make, but took forever to bake in the oven. My friend and I watched the oven anxiously, and had nothing to do but wring our hands and plead the tray in the oven to hurry up. By the end we were severely out of time, with a very stern chef who was not pleased at all about how slow we were, and I hastily threw together my presentation just before time was up. The glaze got a little runny on the plate because I didn’t have enough time for it to set properly, and the ice cream melted quickly into a puddle on the slightly warm plate. The chef tutted at the less-than-spectacular presentation, and I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t have done better. The dessert is to-die-for, though, so next time you’re invited to a dinner party chez moi, ask me to make it!

Oh yes, in my haste that day to leave the apartment, I forgot my camera, too. I borrowed a classmate’s, but the picture didn’t turn out very well that I’d rather not post it.

Dark chocolate sphere with dark chocolate brownie, praline crisp, creamy mango coulis, milk chocolate cream, and hazelnut crumble

Lastly, we made our “prestigious” desserts. For the demonstration, the chef showed us some neat things like using chemical reactions to create “chocolate caviar” – chocolate flavoured little drops that look just like caviar, but taste of chocolate. Each dessert was painstakingly and lovingly assembled, hence the “prestigious” title. I guess this is why the Ritz is allowed to charge obscene amounts of money for their desserts!

Making this dessert in class was fun and easy – we got to work in partners, which made things go by a lot faster. Thank goodness we didn’t have to temper the chocolate, too, or else it would’ve been a lot more stressful. We had the young chef, who had witnessed my previous debacle. His presence caused severe anxiety the whole class, as I was determined to make something better this time. The hardest part was the end, when we had to poke holes in the chocolate top. I wish I had invested more time and care into making just one top, rather than two tops (in case one broke), because I didn’t have time to clean off the edges of each circle cut-out very well. Apparently at one of the famous restaurants in Paris where they make a similar dessert, there is someone who spends all day doing these chocolate spheres! I shudder to think how nerve-wracking that would be…

When I presented my dish, the chef looked at the plate and began with a compliment, which was a relief. He muttered on about the dessert and before I knew it, this is what happened:

Um, could you give me a warning next time before you do this??

The chef dug right in to see my layers and the consistency of each one. I actually had not taken a photo of my creation at that time. My jaw just dropped to the floor and I had to remind myself to keep shocked and angry comments to myself. I don’t actually remember what he said about the layers, because I was so fixated on the broken pieces in front of me, haha.

Fortunately I had saved an extra bottom half of the sphere, too, in case of breakages, so I plopped everything back on my plate and took some pictures before class was over. Phew!

So this isn’t exactly what I presented to the chef in class…but very similar

Now we’re officially off desserts, and onto chocolate tempering! I would cheer about how cool it’s going to be to make sculpted pieces out of chocolate, but chocolate tempering still makes me extremely anxious, so stay tuned for what happens!

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • VancityAllie Tuesday 7 February 2012, 22:07

    Beautiful desserts! I love the chocolate sphere… I’d love to try something like that at home! Although I’m sure it would be obscenely difficult… hehe!


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