Saturday, January 9, 2010


A lot of chefs seem to like to refer to the craft as an art. It’s a nice thought: something so simple and necessary as food turned into an expression of ones self and ones feelings. Nice, and yet for the most part, I disagree. While there certainly chefs who one could call artists, and for whom food is an expression of the soul, I like to think of us more as the marketing department. You know you need to eat, but our job is to convince you to eat (and generally pay) for the food we make for you. The refined plating and complexity are just a way to make our product stand out… like packaging.

Thinking of food as art does have its advantages, though, because it allows us to do something that a marketing VP generally cannot: Shamelessly steal ideas.

The first seeds of this dessert were planted when they had a chocolate savarin on the menu at D Bar. I remember trying to take the recipe back home to fiddle with it, but didn’t ever manage to get the texture right. It wasn’t until I found a similar recipe on the Callebaut website that I decided to give it another go.

The basic principle behind the Savarin Moelleux is a mousse that is slightly baked, both to give it [some] structural stability and to prevent any possibility of salmonella. What you get is a mousse that is firm enough to hold its shape, but is airy and light on the palate.

Savarin Moelleux adapted from Alexandre Bourdeaux

Yield: ~750g

100g butter

250g Dark Chocolate

100g egg yolks

225g egg whites

50g sugar

pinch salt

1) Combine butter and chocolate and melt

2) Whip egg whites on medium speed.

3) Slowly add sugar and salt into egg whites and whip to medium peaks

4) Add yolks to chocolate mixture and emulsify

5) Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture thoroughly.

6) Dispense into flexipans and freeze solid (about 4 hours).

7) Bake at 425° for 6-10 min, rotating once

8) Return to freezer and freeze solid (about 5 hours)

9) Unmold, and allow to thaw.

A couple caveats: Freezing the mix ensures that they won’t soufflé up during baking. If they begin to rise, they are most likely over baked. If you get impatient, and try to unmold them before they are completely frozen, you risk breaking the pieces.

With this as the center of the dish, the rest of the dessert just seemed to fall into place. I filled the well in the top of the savarin with a white chocolate and crème fraiche ganache. A quenelle of orange chocolate creameux, and a lacey chocolate tuile on top to add crunch.

Thinking of winter desserts, it is hard to ignore citrus fruits, which are coming into their peak right now. While at the store, I picked up a bag of clementines thinking that I would give them a try and see how they were. To my excitement, they were exactly how I like them. They were tart, but sweet, with little pith and a nice thin membrane. The acid would do wonders to cut the thick fats of the chocolate and cream.

After eating one or two (or five), I realized that if I didn’t do something with them soon, there wouldn’t be any left for the dessert. I took a gamble, and let the segmented clementines soak in strong brewed earl grey tea. Earl grey is fermented with bergamot, a variety of bitter orange, and so is the natural choice for citrus applications. After about four hours in the earl grey, I drained the segments and popped one into my mouth. The initial taste was very earl grey, but as I bit down discovered that the membrane of the celemetines had absorbed the earl grey, but it hadn’t penetrated into the rest of the fruit. The meat was still bright and clean. I’m so happy with this technique, I might always use it from now on. The other benefit of the soak is that it will prevent the segments from drying out over time.

Finally, I took the left over earl grey “marinade” and added it to about half its amount of orange juice and reduced it down to a sauce consistency.

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