Monday, October 4, 2010

A pastry class anyone?

Oh yum. There's definitely something to being the resident food translator/orchestrator of cooking classes with my local artisans. Good meals, new techniques and yes delectable pastries.

Last week my week-long class included hikes, feasts, visits and a pastry class with my maître-pâtissier Guy LeBlanc. We kept the class to a reasonable two hours rather than the marathon four hours we might have done (hey, we'd hiked that morning). However, it was duly noted that we could program a week's intensive of afternoon pastry classes in the future during the months of May or October. Ahhhh future projects. But I get ahead of myself.

Thus we arrived, well-nourished, laundry dropped off at the local laundromat, a shoe repaired next door, ready to master a few tricks of the trade. With one client with a cast on her wrist, her husband took over at the helm.

We had two desserts before us: a relatively simple chocolate ganâche tart and a multi-step chocolate mousse cake filled with hazelnut caramel. Neither was truly difficult, both divine to eat, but the latter took more preparation by far.

Guy is one of those superbly prepared individuals. He'd done ahead of time what needed to rest overnight, measured out all the ingredients, etc., so we were able to clean our heads and get right to melting the sugar and making the caramel.

the ingredients for the caramel (to be prepared the night before):

- 205 grams sugar
- 68 grams glucose (optional, for the pros)
- 1.5 grams salt
- 360 grams whipped cream
- 200 grams hazelnut paste
- 32 grams gelatin powder diluted in 180 grams cold water.

He melted the sugar in the sauce pan, little by little to avoid lumps, added the glucose and salt, and stirred till it colored nicely, and got to that "petit fumé" state of just smoking. Then he took it off the burner and slowly added the whipped cream, the gelatin and the hazelnut paste. Let cool overnight before using.

This was to go into a gorgeous and rich chocolate mousse:

the ingredients for the mousse:

- 300 grams heavy cream
- 40 grams glucose (optional for the pros)
- 250 grams dark chocolate (60%)
- 40 grams milk chocolate
- 375 whipped cream, not too stiff

Very simply, the heavy cream was brought to a boil with the glucose, this was poured over the softened chopped chocolate and blended till smooth. This was allowed to cool to 35/40Celsius (95F) (Guy tabled it) before the whipped cream was added. This mixture is very smooth when first made and must set overnight before serving. We then dolloped a bit of this mixture into the silicon molds, smoothing it against the sides with the ladle. Into this a spoonful of the caramel was put, then covered with the mousse, then covered with a simple chocolate biscuit. They are then frozen, popped out and topped off with a chocolate glaze.

ingredients for the chocolate biscuit sacher (to be prepared ahead):

150 grams warmed almond paste (50%)
55 grams icing sugar
95 grams egg yolks
50 grams whole eggs
50 grams flour
50 grams cocoa powder
50 grams butter melted
140 grams egg whites whipped stiff
55 grams sugar (blended with the egg whites)

Mix the almond paste and the icing sugar together, slowly add the yolks and eggs. Mix together and add the sifted flour and cocoa, then the melted butter. Fold in the egg whites and sugar. Spread on a baking sheet (ideally on a silpat or baking paper) to 1 centimeter thickness. Bake at 180C (365F) in a convection oven for 12 minutes till just firm, but still very flexible.

We popped out the frozen mousses and put them upon a cake rack and poured our lovely chocolate glaze atop them. Oh how beautiful! Unfortunately, the glaze is the one recipe I wasn't able to obtain. Something about it being quite complicated, or simply his own? However, you might be able to come up with something a bit similar, or just melted dark chocolate, which would give you a crunchy exterior rather than this glimmering soft one. But hey, it would still taste heavenly! You might also sprinkle it with dark cocoa powder... the possibilities are many.

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