White Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

Okay. Here is the final dessert using the aerated chocolate as a garnish.

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For the cheesecake, we made a standard batter flavored with white chocolate and ground starlight mints. We baked it without a crust, let it cool, then placed it in a mixer with a paddle attachment to cream it back together and to aerate it. We then made some mock Oreo cookie dough, baked it, then ground it into a fine powder for garnish as well. IMG_0861
For the final plate up, we put another starlight mint in a low oven to allow it to soften, then pressed it paper thin so it shatters when it’s put in your mouth. We placed 3 quenelles of the cheesecake on the plate, a stripe of chocolate sauce and micro peppermint, and we’re good to go.  Here is the dessert plated on white china and also marble.

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Aerated Chocolate – Simplified

I have had a fascination with aerating foods and setting foams for some time now.  For a couple years I have thought about aerating chocolate, cheese, and other gels like agar and gelatin.  There always seemed to be other priorities in my career for some time now.  But, I have finally reached a point where I can continue some good experimentation.  I started off with purchasing a couple high impact plastic vacuum seal containers with a 2 1/2  quart capacity.  I chose the Vacmaster because it’s made with solid, thick, heavy plastic to stand up to the chamber vacuum sealer.

Many chefs talk about tempering the chocolate and/or adding oil to it to increase the fluidity, or even adding stabilizing hydrocolliods.  We found you don’t need to do any of this.

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With this container, we melted 1 1/2 pounds of Valhrona white chocolate and put it in a 1 quart ISI canister and charged it, while warm, with 2 N2O charges, shaking very well in between charges.  We then dispensed the chocolate into the container, put the lid on, moved the dial to “vacuum”, and placed it in the vacuum chamber.  We closed the lid and put about 60% vacuum on the canister and the chocolate ballooned up by about 300%. I then stopped the vacuum and opened the lid and found the chocolate was still holding the air bubbles, and not collapsing,  I placed it in the refrigerator and let the chocolate set for 4 hours.  When I removed it, I released the vacuum and took the lid off.  I then placed the container in warm water to release the chocolate from the sides and took it out.

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This was my 5th attempt.  The first 4 times, it wasn’t working and I could not figure out why.  I learned that you cannot vacuum too much because this will actually suck all the N2O out.  You need to just pull a slight vacuum to allow the chocolate to rise, and then stop.  Otherwise the chocolate will collapse before it sets.

The texture is amazing.  It completely collapses on the palate and melts away to nothing almost instantly.  It fools your mind into thinking you’re suppose to have something in your mouth, but then it’s gone. It looks like white bread or angel food cake from a small distance.  We are working on a new dessert that will use this chocolate as a garnish for a white chocolate-peppermint cheesecake.  More to come.

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Cry-O-Blanching Baby Carrots

Here is a good example of Cry-o-Blanching I demoed for a group of 10 chefs from Beijing, China who participated in my Modern American Cooking lecture I did last month.  The carrots are peeled and cry-o-vac’ed and then frozen.  Ideally they are frozen in liquid nitrogen.  Then they are allowed to defrost at room temperature and then frozen again.  The process is repeated 3 times for these carrots, but can be done on any number of different vegetables or fruits.  The number of freeze-defrost cycles would vary based on the ingredient and desired texture.  You end result will resemble a traditionally blanched item but with a great, fresh flavor not dulled by a drop in boiling water.

Duck, Take One…

Here is version 1.1 of our new duck dish.  It’s pretty standard with pan seared duck breast, confit leg, butternut squash puree and roasted fall root vegetable hash.   Good, solid winter flavors.  I, however, wanted to somehow make the skin **SUPER** crispy thus altering the final texture.  I was thinking of duck skin as thin as chicken skin.  On our next version, we will be involving a frozen, meat glued block of duck skin and a thermal circulator to reinvent it.  Can’t wait!  Be on the look out for version 1.2

Onion Soup

Here we take a super rich and creamy sweet onion soup and garnish with pickled chanterelles and duck confit.  We then take caramelized onion soup, shape it into croutons using agar agar and complete the dish with micro winter kale from the garden…

More Local Goodies…

We get our coffee custom roasted from Good Bean Coffee just down the road.  We have a lot of guests purchase this coffee from us by the pound whole bean.  We made some ica cream with it and paired it with chocolate cream crepes and toasted cornbread.  Wait….  What?  Yeah, it was uber good…

Chicken Fried Pulled Pork.

Chicken Fried Steak?  Yeah.  How about Chicken Fried Pulled Pork?  We took our sous vide pork and pressed it into a terrine while it was hot and let it set over night.  Then it’s sliced and wrapped in chicken skin glued on with Activa.  After it sets, its coated in seasoned buttermilk and dredged in flour and fried.  Just like fried chicken, but it’s pulled pork.

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