Friday, June 17, 2011

Custards & Creams

During Monday's class, Chef demonstrated Bananas Foster, which is a favorite plated dessert, particularly in the South. The recipe we used, as well as the history of the dessert, can be found on Brennan's website as this is where the dessert originated. People love Bananas Foster because it is served tableside, after the pastry chef puts on a show for guests. What I love about Bananas Foster is that while it is made from only a few simple ingredients, it is so delicious.

Butter, brown sugar and cinnamon are the first ingredients, and are cooked until gooey and golden brown in a pan. Banana liqueur is added, and then the sliced bananas are laid in so they begin to soften.

The pan is removed from the heat so rum can be added, and then returned to the heat to ignite the rum; people love the flames that are present as the alcohol cooks off here and leaves the dessert with great flavor.

To plate the dessert, a few of the bananas and sauce are placed on the plate and then vanilla bean ice cream is placed on top. So good, so very good.

We played around with the bananas and this process, and after, used the mixer to break the bananas down into a tasty caramelized banana jam.

In general, this week's classes focused on different custards and creams. We made a chocolate panna cotta, which is Italian for "cooked cream." After setting up in the refrigerator, we plated the panna cotta with a quenelle of banana jam and a quenelle of malt whipped cream, and some crushed pretzels for crunch.

In Wednesday's class, we first made zabaglione, which is a classical Italian custard made of egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine that is poured over fresh fruit. The French make Sabayon and use champagne or white wine instead of the Marsala.

We next plated a simple trifle, which are also really popular in the south. This trifle had a vanilla butter cake, which was cut into small cubes, splashes of rum, vanilla bean pastry cream, and fresh berries in a layered formation. It was topped with a quenelle of whipped cream. As you'll see in this photo, Katelyn's quenelle in the left glass is appropriately sized and smooth, while mine, in the right glass, is a bit too large and not very smooth.

Quenelle is the new rosette, for me anyway. You may recall from my recaps of my Cakes classes last fall, how much I struggled with trying to get my hands to make rosettes the proper way, you know, just one of my many struggles in the "cakes" world. Well, the quenelle is the new challenge. This is a technique for a clean, smooth, and properly shaped amount of whipped cream, ice cream, whatever really. If done properly, it should look sort of like a smoothly rounded football of whatever the product is. We use this technique a great deal, so I need to practice so I can improve.

The final dessert we plated on Wednesday was a coconut tembleque. This dessert was so much fun to make, because of the different components. First, we used fresh coconut to peel strips for the garnish. The strips are placed in simple syrup, then baked until lightly golden brown.

We next made fried pastry cream. Yes, you read that correctly, fried pastry cream. We froze chocolate pastry cream in a rectangular pan, then cut it into slices and finally cut small circles which we kept frozen as long as possible. (For the record, frozen chocolate pastry cream tastes like the most delicious pudding pop, so I may just have to make a few of these and keep them around for the summer.) We set up a station, of flour, milk, and panko bread crumbs, to batter the cut circles. We did a double-coat for extra crunch on the pastry cream before we fried them.

To plate the dessert, we used chocolate sauce and the fried pastry cream as the base for the tembleque.

And we finished the dessert by placing the tembleque on top and garnishing with the coconut strips.

I really loved this dessert. I loved each component separately, and together, they made for a delicious overall dessert. I liked the texture of the tembleque as well as the crunch on the outside of the friend pastry cream. The flavors worked really well together, and so it was a great end to another great week in Plated Desserts.

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