Saturday, February 22, 2014

February Update

Sorry, no flashy title this time... ;)

We really have been making so many different desserts lately, it's hard to keep track of them all! I think I've got all the right names, but it's always possible that I've gotten confused because it's been a while since we made some of them, and there are a few of them that look similar from the top... So, here we go!

The Alibi cake has pistachio cake around the outside of the mold. Inside are the following layers: chocolate génoise, white chocolate mousse, bitter chocolate sauce, white chocolate mousse, chocolate génoise, white chocolate mousse, and then a strawberry gelée on the top. Fresh strawberry halves go around the top, with dark and white chocolate shavings in the middle.

This is the second time making the Opéra cake, because it's going to be on the exam, so nothing special to note for this one.

St-Honoré au chocolate
For the flaky pastry module, we made a batch of chocolate flaky pastry, which was kind of different. It doesn't taste very chocolate-y, to be honest, but it's kind of a neat idea just the same. So the concept was the same as the other regular St-Honoré that we made a while ago, only chocolate! So there is a disc of chocolate pastry on the bottom, then a chocolate choux pastry, as well as 9 separate cream puffs. After baking, we filled the puffs with chocolate pastry cream, then dipped then in chocolate. Then we covered the "cake" with chocolate chantilly cream, placed the puffs around the top, piped rosettes between the puffs, and finished with chocolate shavings. Yum! :)

Chocolate & pear baskets
Also using the chocolate flaky pastry, we made the same little square "baskets" we made once before, blind baking them. Then we filled them with chocolate ganache and chocolate chantilly cream, and placed a sliced pear half on top. The pear half was covered with apricot glaze, with a few pieces of pistachio sprinkled on top.

Fers à chevals
It seems like we made these quite a while ago, but I never got a chance to take a picture or forgot to post it or something. So these fers à chevals (horseshoes) are fairly straightforward - we an almond paste filling which we rolled out into snakes. We then cut squares of flaky pastry and rolled the almond paste up in them, and formed into horseshoes before baking. After baking, we glzed with apricot and then dipped in fondant.

Trottoirs aux pommes
And then, with the scraps of flaky pastry left over, we made more sidewalks, but this time we made an apple compote for the filling and put a sliced apple half on top before baking, then glazed the apples with apricot.

Grand Louvre
The Grand Louvre dessert has a chocolate chocolate chunk sheet cake around the outside. Inside, the layers are: chocolate cake (the same as what's on the outside), dark chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, and white chocolate mousse. To finish, we sprinkled white sugar over the top and caramelized it with the torch, then covered with clear gel, and finished off with some chocolate squares and candied orange peels.

Le Choco-banane
The concept of this cake was pretty interesting, and it tasted ok, but not one of my favourites. I did, however, like that we cut them up to sell as individual pieces instead of whole cakes. So it starts with a thin chocolate génoise on the bottom, then a dark chocolate mousse, and a banana mousse, with ganache on top. Each wedge was then placed in a cellophane wrapper, and decorated with a chocolate "cigarette". :)

Carré magique
I didn't think this dessert was going to be all that good, because it's chocolate and apple, and the apples seemed a bit yucky to me, but I was very pleasantly surprised! In a square mold, we layered the following: thin chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache with cooked apple cubes, cake, milk chocolate mousse with the same apple cubes, another cake, and then meringue which we made designs in, toasted with a torch, and covered with clear gel. And then decorated with chocolate squares and dried apple slices!

I guess that's it for this time. We have been working on other desserts, but they aren't finished yet. We made heart shaped macarons for Valentine's Day, but then we had a huge snowstorm and only 6 people were able to get to school, so they finished the macarons for everyone and I never got a picture of them. We also made heart shaped rum balls which we airbrushed red/pink, but they were really ugly, so I didn't take a picture of them. We had also made some Valentine decorations with sugar paste, to decorate various desserts, but I didn't make it in on the 14th, so I didn't get pictures of those either.

This next week should be pretty laid back. Monday is a make-up day that I don't have to go in for. Thursday we're going to have a pizza party, but we're making the pizzas ourselves, because we're awesome like that. And then Friday is a planning day before March Break! After the break, we're going to get to put together our own entremet moderne (modern dessert) - like the ones we've been making - including the decoration. This is of course super exciting for me. Not because I like to make things up, just because sometimes I don't like the flavour combinations they give us or the way they finish off the decorations. So it will be nice to put together flavours that I like, and make as fancy a decoration as I want to - but just for once. :) I've had tons of ideas, and what I'm thinking will probably end up being too grand and take too long, but I think it'll be amazing and I'm super psyched! Hopefully I don't have to work in the store that day, because that would just be my luck... And actually, hopefully we can have more than a day to do it, because I think I might need it! lol

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Anything is good..."

"...if it's made of chocolate." - Jo Brand

Such a short week, and yet still rough. It's more than just the physical aspect, of course. There's the psychological aspect of being in a school environment. There's the emotional aspect of relationships (or lack thereof) between students. There's the stress of meeting expectations and deadlines, etc. You can only brush things off and smile so many times before you break, you know? And emotions always accumulate from one week to the next... This is one of the most emotionally draining life experiences I've ever had. But when everyone is happy; when everything goes the way it's supposed to; when a dessert turns out just like the model and you get praise from the teacher; when regardless of how it looks, it tastes divine... it's so very rewarding. :)

This week... Tuesday was pretty laid back. None of the teachers were there when we arrived, and as it turned out, the school had no phone or internet so they hadn't received messages from the teachers and weren't able to contact the replacement until after 8, so he didn't get there until around 8:20. And then he didn't give us a huge workload, just 2 little pastries, but I only took a photo of 1 style. It's called a trottoir (sidewalk) because there's a flat piece of pastry with a filling in the middle - like a road - with 2 thin strips along the edges - like the sidewalk. Cute, right? This one had a chocolate almond cream filling with sliced canned pear halves. Once out of the oven, we glazed the pears and filling with apricot, sprinkled slivered almonds along the sidewalks and some chocolate sprinkles on the pears, and then cut into portions with each pear half being one portion.
For the other, tartines, we cut small squares of pastry, put a circle of custard in the middle, and placed 4 canned apricot quarters with a cherry in the middle and baked. We also glazed these with apricot after baking.

Trottoir choco-poire

Wednesday afternoon we were subjected treated to a discussion on apples, presented by a representative from the FPPQ (Fédération des producteurs de pommes du Québec) and Pommes Qualité Québec, which was basically to raise a bit of awareness about the many different types of apples grown in Quebec. There is a lot of information in the folders they gave us including a small recipe book. We also were each given a lunch bag and 4 Quebec-grown apples - McIntosh, Red Delicious, Spartan, and Cortland. So that was a break from the usual grind. :)

And today we finished one of the most impressive desserts we've made so far - and possibly one of the most delicious - called Mona Lisa! It's basically a triple chocolate mousse cake. We made a chocolate sheet cake to go between the layers of mousse, and then in no particular order there was a dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate layer. We froze them (to make it easier to handle), then glazed with a thin ganache. That all by itself is lovely, but then to decorate... we made éventails (or frou frou as they are known technically ;) ) - frilly chocolate fans for around the outside. And we made roses and leaves out of modeling chocolate to decorate the top.  Chocolate work is so beautiful, but so not easy! Seems a bit over the top, but it's really cool. I'm pleased with how it turned out and quite proud of myself! :)

Mona Lisa
Close up :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Life seems..."

"...but a quick succession of busy nothings." - Jane Austen

This week has been a blur, it went by so fast! Monday and Tuesday are always kind of crazy days working with flaky pastry, and then the rest of the week was just dessert after dessert, I barely remember all their names! But I'll do my best to recall everything...

So to start off the week, we made an apple pie. I don't think it has a special name, if it does, I didn't catch it. Basically we just cubed apples into a pastry shell and then covered the top with strips of pastry in a sort of basket weave. We also made little amuses-bouches - savoury little stuffed treats. Some had caramelized onions, some hot-dogs, some cooked mushrooms, some cheese, and some ham & cheese! And then we made a chicken tort, which was delicious! We filled it with potatoes, carrots, green onions, mushrooms and cheese in a kind of sauce made of milk, cream and eggs, with a layer of marinated chicken in the middle. Really tasty!!

Apple pie

Savoury  bites

Chicken tort


This is a really chocolate-y dessert, with a hint of orange. To start off, we made an almond/hazelnut praline sheet cake. We cut a band from the cake to wrap around the inside of a round mold, plus a round of cake on the bottom of the mold. Then we placed a panna cotta disc (flavoured with orange liqueur) between layers of chocolate mousse. To finish off, we used a comb tool to make a wave design down the middle of the cake, and airbrushed the top with chocolate to give it a velvet-y look. Then we decorated with chocolate squares and candied orange peels.

So the primary flavours of this dessert are chocolate and passion fruit. First we made 2 flourless chocolate cookie discs, and a decorated cookie sheet like we made for some of the other cakes (which was cut in a band to go around the inside of the mold). But this one is dabbed instead of using a parchment cone or a stencil. Next we made a passion fruit mousse, a chocolate mousse, and a passion fruit coulis, which we alternated in layers with the cookies. To finish the top, we used the comb tool to make the same wavy design, but covering half the top. Then we covered the smooth half with plastic wrap and airbrushed the waves with chocolate. After removing the plastic wrap, we smoothed passion fruit coulis (with a few passion fruit seeds stirred in) over the smooth half. Mine didn't turn out quite as I would have liked, but not too bad!


From the other side
To make the Romantic dessert, we started by making a chocolate-almond cookie, and a chocolate-praline sheet cake. We also made a praliné feuilletine disc and a chocolate mousse. The sheet cake got wrapped around the circle mold, and the cookie went in the bottom. The feuilletine is the next layer, followed by a layer of mousse with sliced canned pears, then more mousse, and then we let the whole thing set up in the freezer. To finish it off, we marbled clear miroir with coffee syrup and smoothed over the dessert and added little chocolate twists and crushed hazelnuts.

The primary flavours in this dessert would probably be caramel and orange. For the cake part, we made a sheet cake with powdered hazelnuts and orange zest in it. This was mounted in a square mold. After the first cake layer, we spread a thick salted caramel before another cake layer. Next a layer of orange flavoured mousse, a layer of creamy caramel with morello cherries in it, another layer of mousse, cake, and more mousse. To finish, we sprinkled the top with cocoa powder and then clear miroir gel. We could then add any decorations we wished, so my friend and I put chocolate squares and candied orange peels.


Different angle
We also made a sort of lemon loaf. I didn't take a picture because it's nothing terribly special or exotic (but very yummy! Especially warm!). Strangely, the French call this cake. It's an extremely dense cake, developed ages ago as a durable food for sailors to take on long voyages. This particular recipe can also be called a quarter cake, because it uses equal parts flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, plus whatever flavourings are being used. All it was missing was a lemon glaze on the top! ;)

This week is going to be short because we have today off and Friday we`re going on a field trip!! We are going into Montreal to visit the Je t'aime en chocolat! event. Very excited! Friday isn't the best day to go to one of these events, of course, but it will still be fun. :)