Friday, January 21, 2011
I am combining a post about Classical and Pastry for week 2 because they flow into each other. When I got the menu for Classical, I realized I would be making the Chocolate Mousse. I realized soon after that I could work this to my benefit and use the mousse for my plated desserts in Pastry which is directly after Classical. I also decided that if I am going to be the "dessert person" for my team for Classical, I was going to embrace it and go all out. I'm not just going to make Chocolate Mousse. I am going to make a fabulous dessert that happens to include Chocolate Mousse.
With this in mind, I began to construct sketches of possible plated desserts. I admit, I was a little obsessed. I googled different possible components of my plated desserts, I looked at photos, I looked at recipes, I looked at flavor combinations. I threw myself into it. Once I finished my sketches, I compiled a list of all the components I needed to make. The list was extensive. I knew I wouldn't have time to make everything I wanted to use on the plate during class. Chef had said it was fine to make things at home and bring them in if we needed. She trusts us not to go buy an element to use. We all care too much to try to pass a grocery store baked good off as our own. So I began baking Monday night.
I made profiteroles, devil's food cake, macaroons, strawberry buttercream, and strawberry coulis. I brought in champagne. I brought in a plate and my own glasses. I was prepared. Being prepared pays off. I was so thrilled with how all my food turned out Wednesday.
Once I created my plate for Classical, I decided I wanted to use it, with slight modifications, for one of my plated Pastry desserts. I knew it would save me some time and I really liked how it came out. This is the plate at the top of the post. I also create a second, smaller plate, because we had to have one plate on our table and one plate on the class's table.
In the glass is layered a Chocolate Custard, Champagne Sabayon, Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Ganache, and topped with a Champagne Mousseline. Chocolate Curls are used as a garnish. Next to that are Profiteroles which are filled with the Champagne Sabayon Mousseline and dipped in Chocolate. We finish off the plate with a Chocolate Covered Strawberry and it is all served with a glass of well chilled Champagne garnished with a fresh strawberry.
Let me insert a side note here. I approached Chef Ridsdale and asked him if it was going to be ok if I was the "dessert person" on my team. I asked if I did the desserts all the way through the class, if it was going to negatively impact my grade. I have been thinking about it and since there is no doubt in my mind that PASTRY is what I want to do as a career, I really should be gaining whatever experience I can in that area while I am here. So every opportunity I have to make a dessert or pastry item, I am going to jump on it so I can expand my skills. Chef said that, especially since this is a competition class, he would expect nothing less. Every team is to put their best dishes forward. It makes sense for me to make the dessert dishes. Yay!
I was pushing the time envelope when I was taking photos of the plates in Pastry and I didn't have time to put them in the light box for photos. I'm regretting that immensely, even though I am extremely happy with how the desserts came out. I wish I had better (and more) photos to share.
We begin with the plate that I slightly modified from Classical. Basically, I just stacked some of my Macarons filled with Strawberry Buttercream to the plate for more texture and color contrast, as well as some Strawberry Coulis Sauce and a Chocolate Garnish on top of the Parfait.
My next plate took shape almost exactly as I had drawn it out in my sketch. Coming in with a plan makes plating SO much easier. Sometimes I am extremely thankful I am so organized. From the back working clockwise, we have a martini glass filled with tiny Macarons. I created a Chocolate Disk to fit perfectly on top of the glass which is then garnished with a Chocolate Covered Strawberry. Next is a pyramid of Almond Chocolate Ganache, followed by a Chocolate Pot de Creme in the middle with a Chocolate Covered Strawberry on top, and a molded Vanilla Bavarian Creme with Strawberry Coulis to the right. In the very front I have a Profiterole filled with Champagne Mousseline, and behind that are 3 half spheres of Almond Chocolate Ganache with a Chocolate Almond Biscotti on top. Lastly we have the Parfait topped with a paper thin wedge of chocolate garnish.
Lastly, I made a slightly more simple plate and I absolutely adore how it turned out. I used a ring mold to create a Devil's Food Cake layered with Strawberry Buttercream and Chocolate Mousse. I coated the whole thing in Coating Chocolate and masked the sides with Chocolate Curls so when you bite into it you have a nice crunch to contract with the texture of the cake. I topped the cake the Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Chocolate Covered Strawberries are one of my favorite treats so I was excited to plan them into my plates. Next to that are three of the Chocolate Almond Ganache half speres on which I rested a molded Vanilla Bavarian Creme. I leaned a Chocolate Heart in the divet in the cream and used Coulis to add some color. I used Chocolate and Coulis to give an artistic design to the front of the plate. I wouldn't change a thing about this plate.
On top of all this, Erika Davis, who competed in Top Chef Just Desserts, "liked" my album with these photos on Facebook! I was so excited!!! I am being encouraged by friends and Marc to approach her about an internship. I am strongly considering it. Oh my goodness, I cannot even begin to think about how beyond excited I would be if that came to fruition. She just became an ambassador for Callebaut Chocolate, so if I WERE to work with her, I know I would get a ton of experience in chocolate work. I'm not holding my breath, but oh my goodness. Phew. I'm learning that if you don't dream, you don't have anything to work for or reach for. If you aren't reaching for something, nothing big will ever happen. So work hard and ask! If you ask, you may receive!!
I am becoming more and more confident in my skills and I am thriving on the creative challenges so far this quarter. A feeling of pride and JOY wells up inside me at the end of Wednesdays. I love spending the day cooking and being proud of the food I put up. I love being able to look back and see the progression of my skills and plating techniques. I thank the Universe, Stars, or whatever you want to call it that I am getting to live my dream.