Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chocolate Trio

One day I'd love to open a dessert bistro. I already have a "working" menu and have been meaning to begin recipe testing to make sure that the flavors are perfect! Having at least one chocolate dessert is a must on a menu. Being that chocolate is one of my least favorite flavors, I really had difficulty coming up with a dish that I liked and that I think people would like.

As obnoxious as I am, I prefer simple flavors and presentation. I tend to go for something more rustic than fru-fru and my menu reflects that.

I decided to try out my chocolate dish on Easter knowing I'd have a full house of people to use as guinea pigs! The dish I created is a chocolate trio - Dark Chocolate Souffle, Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee and White Chocolate Gelato.

The Creme Brulee...

I know I said I'm into simple presentation - and I really am - but this is probably slightly obnoxious. I recently bought myself an egg topper (an apparatus that allows you to take the top off an egg with a straight edge) and was dying to use it. I prepared the custard for the creme brulee and baked it in the hollowed shells. (FYI - they are a bitch to clean!) I used beans to keep the eggs upright when baking and cooling. I really enjoyed making these. Due to the high chocolate content, the texture was in between that of a traditional creme brulee and a mousse - which I liked.

The Gelato...

I actually like white chocolate and was very excited about this component. I used a recipe from one of my favorite gelato and sorbet cookbooks, Ciao Bella. I am not going to lie, I was not thrilled with the recipe. I am angry at myself for following it so literally when I had a hunch that I wouldn't love it. I found it too eggy and had to tweak the recipe to make it more to my taste. When the gelato was almost finished churning, I drizzled in some melted bittersweet chocolate to add some more texture and chocolaty goodness. I garnished the gelato with some lemon confit. I was skeptical to do this at first but, I am so glad that I did. The citrus cut through the sweetness of the gelato and it was delish! The tweaked recipe is at the end of the post.

The souffle...

I feel that people expect to see a souffle on a restaurant menu and I don't want to disappoint. Not only was I going to try a new recipe, I also haven't made one since culinary school so I was not sure what to expect. It was relatively easy to make. I prepared a pastry cream-like base and folded in chocolate, butter and a french meringue. I wasn't thrilled with the rise and the look of the souffle (I didn't fill the ramekin high enough) but the taste was dead on. It had everything that I look for in a souffle - soft, decadent and a slightly gooey in the middle. Great success!

Here is what the finished plate looked like. I think this one is a keeper and can't wait for you guys to try it when I open my restaurant!

White Chocolate Gelato with Bittersweet Chocolate Drizzle

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (use a quality chocolate, not in a chip version)
1/2 tsp high-end vanilla extract or seeds from half a bean
1/4 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate

Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolk yolks with the sugar until they lighten in color. As soon as the milk mixture comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat and, while whisking, slowly pour it into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. When both mixtures are combined, return to the sauce pan. Add the white chocolate and whisk it into the egg/milk mixture. On a low heat, gently stir the mixture (with a wooden spoon) until it begins to thicken and it coats the back of the spoon (about 185 degrees.) Be sure not to over cook the mixture or the eggs will scramble!

Pour the custard through a fine strainer into a bowl set up with an ice bath. Stir to cool down the custard and then pour it into a container and refrigerate overnight.

Process the gelato base in an ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's instructions on how to churn. When the gelato is nearly finished, drizzle the melted bittersweet chocolate in a fine stream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to use.

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