Saturday, December 11, 2010


Hello there! It's been a while, but the madness of school had finally slowed down so hopefully I'll have at least one more post after this one before Christmas. This one will be accompanied by recipes. I feel I've been a little chintzy on the recipe front lately, so apologies for that.

This week at school was our event/exam week. The final test this year culminated in an event, called Room4Dessert, for which people could purchase tickets and taste our final products. Each group of four was to come up with a verrine (layered dessert), two-bite pastry, preserve, bread or cracker, and two chocolates, one dipped and one molded.

After weeks of preparation, some not so successful test runs, a lot of stress, and more than a little frustration we finally came to end. And, it has to be said, quite successfully. I don't think I'm the only one who would say the event was a resounding success. Everyone turned out some fabulous desserts and the guests all appeared to enjoy themselves.

Below is a picture of my group's table. As you can see our theme was citrus. The chocolates were boxed and at a separate table.

Below is a closeup of our verrines. The were made up of a layer of lady finger sponge, a layer of lime chiboust, which is pastry cream with meringue folded in and set with a bit of gelatin, and a layer of gin and tonic jelly. We topped them with a dollop of whipped cream, a bit of candied lime peel, meringue bits, and a swirl of white chocolate.

The gin and tonic jelly was quite a favourite. It's really like a sweeter gin and tonic. It's light and has a gentle bite to it as the gin makes itself known. It's also quite pretty. It has a subtle yellowish colour and sort of glitters. Perhaps from the air bubbles that get trapped from the tonic water. I got the recipe from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess and I've included it at the bottom of the post. It's like Jell-O for grown-ups.

Our two-bite pastry was a Grand Marnier savarin with cardamom mousseline on a citrus Britanny cookie with caramelized banana and orange. Everyone loved it. So you'll find full recipes for all of that at the bottom. Savarin is made with a yeasted dough that comes out rather dry and is then soaked in syrup. Traditionally they're soaked in rum syrup, but in keeping with citrus we changed it to Grand Marnier. The cardamom pairs beautifully with both the orange and banana, it's slight spiciness just lifts the flavour of the other two, balancing it nicely.

Lastly we had our cheese, cracker, and preserve. I don't have a closeup picture of those but you can see them on the far left of the table picture. The cheese we were assigned was Robiola Rochetta. It's made with a mix of sheep's, goat's, and cow's milk and has the consistency of cream cheese. It's quite mild, but definitely stands out with it's earthy flavour.

We paired it with a thyme cracker. The recipe which can be found at Martha Stewart's website. They're extremely easy to make and delicious. Crisp and a bit salty with the thyme adding extra flavour. They make you never want to buy crackers again.

The grapefruit marmalade we paired with it was quite tangy, but ended up with a nice flavour once we added some oranges after the fact. The recipe for that can be found here, but be sure to blanch the peel before making it by boiling it, draining it, and shocking it with cold water three times or you'll end up with some very bitter marmalade. Also, we had some thermometer trouble when trying to bring it up to the right temperature. I think perhaps going by the timing would work better than going by temp. Much longer and ours would have burned.

Below you'll see our chocolates. The molded one has a white chocolate Grand Marnier center and the dipped one with the candied mint on top has a white chocolate lemon mint center.

Overall we enjoyed the evening and we were happy with the outcome. It's always much more exciting when you get to watch people enjoy what you've made. It is the best part of baking, in my opinion. At the end of it, watching someone's face light up as they eat something you've made them.

Gin and Tonic Jelly from Nigella Lawson

300 mL Water
300 g Caster sugar
2 Lemons
400 mL Tonic water
250 mL Gin
8 sheets Gelatin

Boil sugar and water for 5 minutes.
Add lemon zest and steep, covered, for 15 minutes.
Strain out the lemon zest and add the gin, tonic water, and lemon juice. You should have 1200mL, if not, top it up with a liquid (gin, tonic water, or lemon juice).
Soak gelatin in cold water and boil 50mL of water. Squeeze out the gelatin to removed excess water and whisk into the boiling water.
Remove a about 1/2 cup of the gin mixture and whisk in the gelatin. Then return it to the rest of the mixture and stir it together.
Pour into a mold and let set for six hours.
If using a jelly mold set it in a warm water bath to loosen it before removal.

Grand Marnier Savarin with Cardamom Mousseline

30 g. Yeast

120 ml Water

334 g. Bread flour

20 g. Milk powder

40 g. Sugar

5 Eggs

6 g. Salt

166 g. Butter, melted

82 g. Mixed Peel or currants (optional)

If you have a stand mixer use the bread hook attachment.

Combine yeast and water in the bowl and mix together to create a slurry.

Place sifted flour, milk powder, sugar, eggs, and salt on top and mix.

Knead dough until the dough stretches when pulled gently to form a translucent 'window' so to speak. Pull off a small piece and gently pull it to check.

The dough will be very soft.

In a bowl place the melted butter on top and mix in thoroughly.

Punch down and rest another 10 min.

Add peel or currants to the dough.

Grease 3 standard muffin tins or savarin molds and fill half way.

Let sit in a warm place until the dough rises almost to the rim.

Bake at 385ºF until golden brown and unmold soon after they come out of the oven.

Pour the hot syrup evenly into the muffin tins (about half way) and place the savarins back into the tins to absorb the syrup.

Invert onto a drying rack so that any excess syrup can drip out.

Soaking Syrup

834 ml. Water

250 g. Sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 orange

5 g. Vanilla, pure

Salt, pinch

120 ml Grand Marnier

Boil everything except the Grand Marnier and let sit for about 20 minutes to steep.

Bring back to a boil and strain to remove zest.

Stir in Grand Marnier.

Note: You can make the syrup ahead of time and store in the fridge. Just be sure to reheat it before soaking the cakes and add the Grand Marnier after you've heated it so that none of it cooks off.

Cardamom Mousseline

85 g. sugar

6 egg yolks

cardamom to taste

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup (80ml) boiling water

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) 35% cream

Whisk together sugar, yolks, cardamom, and vanilla extract.

Whisk in boiling water and then whisk mixture over simmering water to ribbon stage. It will thicken and will not sink back into the mixture immediately when drizzled on top of itself.

Whisk to cool.

Whip cream and fold into cooled mixture.

To assemble place small segments of orange and banana on top of the savarin.

Pour about 1/2 tsp more of Grand Marnier over each one.

Top with a dollop of mousseline and a piece of caramalized banana.

Note: To caramelize the bananas, cut rounds into thirds and toss in sugar. Using a creme brulee torch, torch each piece to brown. Alternatively cook them in a pan on low heat.

Sorry about all the metric measurements. They're my school recipes. I will try and convert them and update this as soon as I do. On a related note, a kitchen scale is very handy to have, especially when working out of British cookbooks, which always use metric measurements.


  1. A true baker through and through! <3 Loving the enjoyment you bring to other people's faces through your food is the first test, and you passed!

    Now... come back to Hamilton and I'll be happy to let my face light up upon the first taste of your food any time.

  2. I am totally going to make the Grand Marnier Savarin. *drool*