Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baking and Pastry Skills Development: Seasonal Desserts and Chocolates!

Baking and Pastry has come and gone. Hopefully everyone has enjoyed the highlights from 3 weeks of bread baking, cake making, icing piping, and dessert plating. We learned how to make Swiss, Italian, and French meringues, assorted styles of cakes, puff pastry from scratch, a few dozen cookies, and even some ice creams that can be baked in the oven. WHAT? About that............. 

 Here is a Baked Alaska. For those of you unfimiliar with what that is, it is a block of ice cream layered with cake and then covered with Italian Meringue.  The meringue and the cake act as an insulator so that the entire thing can go into the oven and not melt.  The meringue actually browns and sets up so that the entire thing is sliceable. For dramatic effect, add your liqueur of choice to a halved egg shell, turn off the lights, and then light it on fire for presentation bonus points at your next holiday gathering.

Speaking of holiday gathering, every good bible study or growth group has a pot luck or two to celebrate the Christmas season! The Mrs. and I's was no exception and out came the Baked Arkansan! Similar to it's Baked Alaska brethren, but instead of ice cream and cake, the Italian Meringue sat on an upside-down Arkansas Black Apple Pie. Apple slices and caramel garnish included after the meringue and pie came out of the 500˚ oven.

Back into the kitchen, our last day was spent tempering chocolate and making chocolates. Here is the beginning of chocolate honey truffles. Now I understand why the chocolatier can charge $2 for these things. They take about 2 days to make after your emulsify the chocolate and cream mixture to make the ganache and let it sit overnight, then spend the morning reshaping the portioned truffle bases, and then enrobing the perfect spheres of ganache with tempered melted chocolate........................whew! But they are worth it in the end!

The finished product of chocolate truffles.........and Mendiants garnished with pistachio, candied orange peel, and dried cranberries and Rochers. Rochers are candied almonds slivers that are mixed with tempered chocolates to make mini-bird's nest's of deliciousness!

If you don't like the richness of truffles, you are out of luck because these chocolate candies are just as rich. Sorry, no Hershey's chocolate is allowed in the pastry kitchen. Why eat cocoa powder and vegetable oil when you can have cocoa butter and cocoa solids instead.....................oh yeah, that $2 per piece thing again. Dang those food scientists and their delivery of affordable food to the masses!
That does it for semester 5 at the CIA-Greystone. My final semester 6 starts shortly after the New Year's with Wines & Beverages. That should be a fun change of pace! Cheers to a Happy New Year's!

No comments: