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Sugar Cane syrup


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#1 Ed Hamilton

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Posted 23 September 2002 - 04:23 PM

I've been looking, unsuccessfully, for sugar cane syrup made from fresh sugar cane juice. The one I presently use is made in Martinique or Guadeloupe.
Unlike rock candy syrup used in most cocktail recipes, real sugar cane syrup is made by cooking sugar cane juice to remove the water. All of the sugar syrups are just sugar and water and lack the taste of the sugar cane.
I've tried a couple of sugar cane products but most tasted more like molasses instead of sugar cane juice.
Edward Hamilton


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#2 Suzanne F

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Posted 23 September 2002 - 04:31 PM

Have you tried Steen's 100% Pure Cane Syrup? If not:

The C. S. Steen Syrup Mill Inc
P.O. Box 339
119 N. Main Street
Abbeville, LA 70510
(318) 893-1654

They have a website, but I've lost the link. Sorry.

#3 Saffy

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Posted 24 September 2002 - 12:55 AM

steens will do mail orders, even overseas :))!!

#4 stellabella

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Posted 24 September 2002 - 05:49 AM

steen's sounds good, but my husband found another one that we both think is the best we've ever tasted:

country made ribbon cane syrup
douglas syrup farm
rt 2 box 186
dekalb, ms 39328
601-677-9700

at the bottom of the label, in tiny letters: "we were here first" :wacko:

but it's darn good can esyrup.

#5 Ed Hamilton

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Posted 24 September 2002 - 12:05 PM

I've had Steen's and it was more like molasses than cane syrup. After talking to them on the phone, they admitted that they buy their syrup from the mill and then package it. I'd hoped they were still cooking the cane juice. I'll contact country made.
Thanks and I'll let you know.
Edward Hamilton


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#6 stellabella

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Posted 10 October 2002 - 05:25 PM

Ed, I found another jar of cane syrup in the pantry and tried it against the other for comparison. it's:

old south kettle cooked
pure georgia cane syrup
grown and produced by ronny l. herring
ochlocknee, ga 31773
912-574-5151

old south is darker and thinner and less sweet, to me much more like molasses. but i am a cane syrup fool and generally like them all, depending on whether i'm in the mood for more or less sweet. i love fresh hot cornbread smeared with a little butter and soaked in cane syrup.

i got some Cajun Crystals cane syrup sugar--it pours well and has a nice flavor. this morning i had it on my oatmeal--very nice.

#7 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 October 2002 - 05:42 PM

Ed are you familiar with the product from Monin? Scroll down and look towards the right on this page:

http://www.moninathome.com/new.php

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#8 Bond Girl

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Posted 22 December 2002 - 07:36 PM

While watching my friend's six and eight year old today, I had the bright idea to make sugar cookies. Hey, it's christmas, and I've got plenty of color sugar on hand. The fact that I've never made them myself was a minor point. I had a vision of beautifully decorated cookies for the girls to take home. Anyway, six hours later, my entire apartment is now coated with color sugar, flour and butter bits. While the cookies taste delicious, they look like it has war paint on it. Can anyone offer me some tricks or advice for the future as to how those things are decorated? I've seen eight year olds being able to turn out beautifully decorated santas, while I can fill in the green for a christmas tree.
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#9 JSD

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Posted 22 December 2002 - 09:31 PM

My recipe is from Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls which I've had since the Kennedy administration. You roll the dough into little balls between your palms, then flatten them with a drinking glass that has been greased and dipped in the colored sugar. After flattening, I usually sprinkle extra sugar on them. They're not really spectacular looking, but they are delicious with the lemon zest and nutmeg.

#10 snowangel

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Posted 22 December 2002 - 11:50 PM

While watching my friend's six and eight year old today, I had the bright idea to make sugar cookies.  Hey, it's christmas, and I've got plenty of color sugar on hand.

Note: Those beautiful Martha Stewart decorated sugar cookies were not accomplished with a 6 and 8 year old in tow.

As mother to three, I can safely say that baking and decorated cookies with kids = sugar and flour everywhere. It will make for fond memories next summer when you are still finding remants of your fun day.

Advice. Vaccuum up the debris. Add water to flour and you've got glue/paste. Add water to sugar and you've got something akin to varnish. :biggrin:
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#11 Bond Girl

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Posted 23 December 2002 - 07:21 AM

Wait, so how does Martha Stewart come up her gorgeous looking batch with patterns and designs on micro-sized cookies? I can tackle complex desserts such as opera cakes and burnt sugar floss, but this sugar cookie thing has got me....Are there any tricks to them. Thanks for the cleaning tip Snowangel, currently the apartment is till in post-war assessment stage.
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#12 chefette

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Posted 23 December 2002 - 09:45 AM

Hmmm - could it be her staff of designers and in-house artists?????????

#13 kitwilliams

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Posted 23 December 2002 - 11:01 PM

My recipe is from Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls which I've had since the Kennedy administration.  You roll the dough into little balls between your palms, then flatten them with a drinking glass that has been greased and dipped in the colored sugar.  After flattening, I usually sprinkle extra sugar on them.  They're not really spectacular looking, but they are delicious with the lemon zest and nutmeg.

Such fun to find someone else who has the Betty Crocker Boys' and Girls' cookbook! I adore those lemony sugar cookies HOWEVER I want you to go back and look at your copy and tell me if there truly is nutmeg listed as one of the ingredients.... it is not in mine. Or is it something that you yourself added? I don't think I've ever used lemon and nutmeg together... should I try it? Have I been missing something extraordinary?

As for advice on decorating holiday sugar cookies, Bond Girl, I have none. I hate doing it and simply put different colored royal icing in squeeze bottles and do zig-zags over the cookies: red and white on the candy canes, green and white on the trees, blue and white on the stars....and if you want to use up all that colored sugar of yours, sprinkle it on the icing before it dries!
kit

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#14 JSD

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Posted 24 December 2002 - 08:38 AM

Such fun to find someone else who has the Betty Crocker Boys' and Girls' cookbook!  I adore those lemony sugar cookies HOWEVER I want you to go back and look at your copy and tell me if there truly is nutmeg listed as one of the ingredients.... it is not in mine.  Or is it something that you yourself added?  I don't think I've ever used lemon and nutmeg together... should I try it?  Have I been missing something extraordinary?


Well, now, this is very interesting - nutmeg is NOT listed as an ingredient, but right before baking, it says to sprinkle cookies with nutmeg. My copy is the 6th printing. I usually make these at Christmas time, and make half with green sugar, and half with red sugar.

The other cookie recipe I love is the Molasses Crinkles. We always used this recipe, but this year my son wanted to use the Molasses cookie recipe with black pepper in them, and I finally found it in Cooks Illustrated. He loves asking people if they can figure out the secret ingredient (they can't).

#15 laura

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 10:32 AM

I would like to make a sabayon sauce for dessert using champagne. Does
anyone have any recipes, also could the champagne be used after opening
for this , the next day. forinstance? I looked at the recipe in Simca's Cuisine,
Written by Simone Beck, but it includes potato starch and I'm not sure that would be necessary.Also Julia Child includes cornstarch. Now I'm wondering if
a Zabaglione would be simpler? Any suggestions?

#16 nightscotsman

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 11:15 AM

I just checked and none of the recipes I could find include any kind of starch, though a couple that are meant to be used cold include gelatine. As far as I can tell, sabayon is just the French name for zabaglione. same basic ingredients (though zabaglione is traditionally made with marsala) and technique. Since the mixture is heated and most of the bubble will be cooked and whisked out, I doubt it would make much difference if you used fresh or day-old champagne.

Here is the basic recipe from "The Professional Pastry Chef" (makes 4 cups)

6 egg yolks
6 oz (170g) sugar
1 1/2 c white wine or champagne

beat egg yolks and sugar in stainless bowl until light and fluffy. Add wine and place over simmering water. Whip until hot and mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon. Serve hot.

#17 Steve Klc

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 01:16 PM

Laura--I wouldn't look to Julia or Simone for much of anything as far as pastry is concerned.

Most pastry chefs just use yolks, sugar and an "alcohol" component--champagne, a sparkling wine like Prosecco would be fine, Port and dessert wines as well. Just don't take it over 185 F as you whisk and than whip. If you plan to serve it warm--a la minute--you don't need to add gelatin either. Another way to "hold" a sabayon--or to serve a cold sabayon--is to fold some softly whipped cream into it as you cool it down slightly over an ice bath.

Try 4 yolks, 40 g sugar, 70 g champagne--but that's variable depending on how sweet the rest of your dessert is. I tend to keep things less sweet.
Steve Klc

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#18 kitwilliams

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 01:57 PM

Thanks for putting sabayon in my head, Laura. I've been wondering what to do for New Year's Eve and think I'll do warm gingerbread with cider sabayon. And hope there will be leftovers for breakfast.
kit

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#19 Stargryphon

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Posted 02 January 2003 - 06:21 PM

I have to admit that I take the easy way out when I make sugar cookies. My best friend the cookie press. :rolleyes:

I tend to have too heavy a hand with the flour and rolling pin, so my cookies tend to come out a little "tough" when I make them them the old fashioned way. The press shaves a little bit of time and produces some attractive little morsels.

#20 elyse

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Posted 05 January 2003 - 02:43 PM

I am sorry to make my introduction as a lame person, but I attended the International Hotel/Motel Restaurant Supply Show in November, and was told I would be able to find recipes from the demonstrations/competitions here. I checked too soon and found nothing. I checked recently (too late?) and found nothing. Am I really too late, or is it hidden here somewhere?

Thanks for the info.

Elyse

#21 Steve Klc

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Posted 05 January 2003 - 02:54 PM

Hi Elyse--forgive me, but you're less lame than I am, because I was the person who promised they'd be posted on the site. Meredith and Colleen have already posted some of their recipes from the demonstrations on the IHMRS thread and I've received the recipes from Michael and Patrice--and will post them right now. I've just been too lazy to cut and paste them from my iBook. Here they are:

This is courtesy of Patrice Demers of Les Chevres in Montreal:


APPLE, BUTTERNUT SQUASH,MAPLE with GOAT YOGURT AND NUTMEG PANNA COTTA

2 Cups of goat yogourt
300 g cream
150g maple sirup
3 sheets gelatine, softened
fresh nutmeg

Reduce the maple sirup until it turn to a light caramel
Add the cream and some freshly grated nutmeg
Take out from the fire
Add the gelatine
Wisk in the goat milk yogourt and pour into small glasses
Let set in the fridge for at least 3 hours

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PULP

1 butternut squash
250g maple sirup

Peel and diced the squash
Cook the squash with the maple sirup on top of the stove for about 20 minutesm until the squash is tender.
Let cool and reduce into a purée.
Pass throught a small sieve.

GREEN APPLE FOAM

6 green apples
500 ml fresh apple juice
juice of 2 lemons
100 g sugar
4 sheets gelatine

Cut the apples into big pieces, leaving the peel on them.
Put the apples with the leon juice, sugar and apple juice in a pot and cook until the apple a very soft, for about 30 minutes.
Reduce the apple into a very smooth purée
For each liter of apple purée, add 4 sheets of gelatine
Pour into a container and let cool in the frindge for one night.
Pass the foam throught a fine sieve and pour into your foam canister.

Macaron:
150 g egg whites
260 g confectionners sugar
25g confectionner sugar
180g almond flour

Whip slowly the egg whites
when they begun to make peaks, add the 25g of sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks.
With a spatula, fold in the almond powder and the remaining sugar
With a pipping bag, on a silpat, pippe your macaron
Let them sit for about 20 minutes before you cook them to let them crust a little bit on top
Cook them at 350 for about 10 minutes

To serve:
Pour some butternut purée on your panna cotta;
Add some small dices of fresh apple on top;
Finish the dessert with some green apple foam.
Serve with the macarons
Steve Klc

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#22 Steve Klc

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Posted 05 January 2003 - 03:04 PM

And here courtesy of Michael Laiskonis, who is the pastry chef of Tribute in Farmington Hills, Michigan is his:

Vanilla-Sweet Potato Sorbet
Hazelnut Biscuit, Star Anise-Milk Chocolate “Emulsion”
Cider-Beurre Noisette Caramel, Milk “Jam”
Maldon Sea Salt



Sweet Potato Sorbet

YIELD: approx. 1.5 liter

500g water
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped  
50g granulated sugar
5g sorbet stabilizer
200g granulated sugar
50g glucose powder
400g sweet potato, roasted, peeled, puréed, and sieved


1. Place water and vanilla in a non-reactive saucepan and heat to 50ºC/122ºF.
2. Meanwhile, combine first measurement of sugar and stabilizer and whisk into the water.
3. Add remaining sugar and glucose and bring to a boil. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and chill, allowing mixture to mature for minimum 4 hours.
4. Remove vanilla bean and combine with sweet potato.
5. Process in batch freezer.

For processing in a Pacojet, reduce sugar by 50g and remove sorbet stabilizer, if desired. Distribute base into two beakers, freeze, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions


Milk Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscuit

YIELD: one half-sheet pan/625g

35g granulated sugar
60g cake flour
150g milk chocolate, melted
125g unsalted butter, softened
75g pasteurized egg yolks
25g trimoline
125g pasteurized egg whites
30g granulated sugar
80g chopped hazelnuts


1. Sift together first measurement of sugar and cake flour. Reserve.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine chocolate and butter thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Stir in egg yolks and trimoline. Reserve.
3. Prepare a meringue with egg whites and remaining sugar, whipping to soft peaks.
Carefully fold sifted sugar-flour mixture into meringue, then fold chocolate base into meringue.
4. Spread evenly into a sprayed and parchment lined half-sheet pan. Liberally sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the biscuit. Bake 16 minutes at 205ºC/400ºF, turning once. Remove from oven and allow to cool before use.


Beurre Noisette

500 g heavy cream

1. Place cream in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until solids and butterfat begin to separate. Allow solids to brown slightly. Remove from heat and strain through a chinois or fine mesh sieve.
2. Transfer browned milk solids to a paper towel, allowing the removal of excess fat.



Cider-Beurre Noisette Caramel
YIELD: approx. 1.5 cups/350g

250g granulated sugar
400 ml apple cider
25g beurre noisette solids

1. Combine sugar, and water to moisten in a non-reactive saucepan, and cook to a dark caramel.
2. Meanwhile, in a second pan, place cider over medium heat and simmer, reducing by about one third.
3.When sugar has reached correct color, remove from heat and slowly add reduced cider. Return to heat and cook to dissolve any bits of hardened caramel. Continue cooking until desired consistency is achieved (To test, spoon some caramel onto a cold plate and allow to cool. Generally, sauce should still be fluid cold or at room temperature).
4. Whisk in beurre noisette solids. Strain through a chinois. Chill.

Star Anise-Milk Chocolate “Emulsion”

YIELD: approx. 1.5 pint/645g

500g ‘half and half’
10g star anise
10g cocoa powder
120g milk chocolate couverture

1. Place ‘half and half’ in a non reactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add star anise, remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for ten minutes.
2. Return to a boil, reduce heat and whisk in cocoa and milk chocolate, stirring to thoroughly melt. Allow to simmer for one minute.
3. Remove from heat, strain through a chinois or fine mesh sieve. Reserve warm.
4. To serve, blend with an immersion blender until frothy.


Milk “Jam”

Yield: approx. one pint

1000g whole milk
300g granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2g sheet gelatin, bloomed

1. In a non-reactive saucepan, combine milk, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has slightly thickened, or until it has reduced by half.
3. Remove from heat, add gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Strain through a chinois or fine mesh sieve. Chill.


Tuile Craquante

YIELD: 1.6#/ 750g    

300g confectioner’s sugar
5g pectin NH
15g all purpose flour
240g unsalted butter
100g glucose
100g water

1. Sift together sugar, pectin, and flour.
2. In a non-reactive saucepan, combine butter and glucose and melt over low heat. Whisk in sifted ingredients, then liquid. Increase heat to medium.
3. Bring just to a boil. Remove from heat. Allow to cool and rest at least one hour.
4. Spread very thin onto silpat lined sheet pan and bake in a convection oven at 205ºC/400ºF until golden brown.
Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant
Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

#23 chefette

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Posted 05 January 2003 - 03:39 PM

Cornucopia - from Colleen Apte, Pastryarts.com

Creamed Corn Custard

350g Heavy Cream
14 oz can creamstyle corn (pureed)
1 T sugar (perhaps 2 would bring more zing)
pinch salt
5 Eggs yolks (size large - I originally said 3 and use gelatin - decided against it)

- Combine cream, corn, sugar and salt and bring to a boil
- Whisk yolks in a separate bowl and slowly pour in about half the boiling cream while whisking constantly
- Pour everything back in the pan over the heat stirring briefly until the mixture reaches 80 degrees Centigrade (about 8 stirs usually)
- Strain and pour into custard cups to about half full
- Chill (the custard) until set

Beet Jus (With Cranberry and Pomegranate)

250g Red Beets, peeled & chopped (Might consider using canned to speed this up and save your hands from the stain)
100g fresh cranberries
40g sugar
200g water
crushed peppercorns (about 1 tsp)
2 Bay leaves
50g Pomegranate Juice concentrate
50 g water
- put everything in a saucepan and simmer til the beets are tender (about 45 minutes)
- puree, strain through double layer of cheesecloth lining a fine mesh sieve, cool

Corn Foam with Guinness

500g sweet golden corn (I used canned)
75g sugar
150g water
1/2 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean (scraped) (you certainly could use extract or do without)
200g Guinness Draught (canned)
400g Heavy Cream
3 sheets gelatine (or 1 envelope powdered)

- combine sugar, water, vanilla, salt, and corn bring to a boil and simmer 5 or so minutes
- puree and strain
- bloom the gelatin and stir into the warm puree
- add heavy cream
- add Guinness (to taste)
- fill foamers small iSi PROFI Whippers about 2/3 to 3/4 full and charge once
- shake and chill upside down several hours prior to use
- shake slightly before using

Caramel Popped Corn

300g sugar
150g water
1/3 cup popping corn

- place sugar in a large saucepan (that has a good fitting lid) and gently pour the water in over it
- cover the pan and heat several minutes until the sugar mixture is boiling rapidly (I wait til the soft ball stage but it doesn't really matter)
- Add the popping corn and monitor it carefully - it will start to pop just as the sugar reaches pale light golden/clear caramel (the first few kernels will be very cute and innocent as the blossom but as it picks up you should cover the pan to protect yourself)
- cover the pan and shake it vigorously as the corn starts popping
- once the popping noise quiets down open the pan, and stir the corn until the caramel develops a little
- pour the popped caramel corn out on a silpat or baking sheet and move it around with a wooden spoon to keep it from clumping up
- store in a closed container until ready to use

Corn Flake Crisps

200g Corn Flakes (I used some really healthy ones from Whole Foods)
300g sugar

- Cook the sugar to caramel in a small heavy pan by heating the pan and slowly sprinkling in the sugar adding more sugar as it melts
- As soon as all the sugar is cooked to caramel (dark amber color) remove it from the heat and pour it out onto a silpat
- grind the cooled caramel into a powder with the corn flakes in a food processor
- sprinkle the powdered mixture onto a silpat and score with the back of a knife into rectangles
- bake at 350 until the caramel melts (about 5 minutes)
- cool and use (If not using immediately store flat on silpats in an airtight container

Preserved Sweet Onion recipe from Michel Bras (takes 3 days so plan ahead)

600 g simple syrup (300g sugar cooked to a boil with 300g water)
1 sweet onion sliced

- peel, wash, and slice the onion into 1/3" slices
- blanch (dump them into boiling water for a few seconds, strain and dunk in ice water)onions in salted water and place in boiling syrup
- remove from syrup and chill overnight

Bras' recipe has you remove the onions and reduce the syrup by half each day for two days following this. I decided that to reduce the pungency of the onion I would make a new progressively stronger syrup each time (300g sugar with 150 g water then 300g sugar with 75 g water)
- spread the onion slices out onto silpats and dry overnight at 150 degrees in the oven (flip them half way through)

To serve:

Spoon about 1 T beet jus over each custard;
Top with light sprinkling of chopped cilantro leaves (fresh);
Add foam and top with a handful of caramel popped corn;
I placed a rectangle of corn flake crisp into the glass and slung a sweet onion ring over it.
Serve immediately

#24 wgallois

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 04:29 PM

In the past year or so I have changed the way in which I pick puddings in restaurants, and thought I would share my method and ask others' views.

I used to simply pick the chocolate pudding because I like chocolate a great deal and also because I felt that such a dish would make absolutely sure that they I felt satisfyingly full at the end of the meal. My one variation was to sometimes choose a plate of cheese.

Great though chocolate and cheese are, I began to get somewhat bored with this routine and rather envious of the more exotic puddings I saw being enjoyed by my wife. This led me to my great pudding discovery which is that it can become the best course in a meal so long as you choose the dish which you think that you would like least, or the dish that you think is the wildest flight of fancy. In my case this means avoiding chocolate, any kind of gooey pudding, caramel, tarts, other cakes or cheese, and instead embracing lemon-grass creme brulee, nougat with passion fruit, or banana sabayon with liquorice ice cream.

Even if this approach leads one to some duds, the highs more than make up for it, and I think that this is partly because wild desserts simply seem to be more creative exercises for good chefs than more standard puddings. In general one also feels less belt-bustingly full when taking the counter-intuitive pudding route.

#25 Winot

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 06:22 AM

Interesting idea. I must admit to being in the chocolate or cheese camp too. Often the sweet/savoury choice depends on what I want to drink with it, sad alcy that I am. I'll try your method next time I eat out.

#26 elfin

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 07:52 AM

I avoid the puddings and brulees when I order desserts. I want something special that I can not make or I know requires a lot of time, special ingredients and difficulty. I seem to favor berry/pastry concoctions drenched in creme anglaise or creme fraiche or of course profiteroles. The only custard/creams that I like are sandwiched between layers of pastry.
What disease did cured ham actually have?
Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

#27 SobaAddict70

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 08:45 AM

But why is it that something like creme brulee and tiramisu have become pervasive?

When was the last time you saw a dessert souflee or a napoleon offered on a menu? More excitement, less boring please.

SA

#28 Suzanne F

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 09:03 AM

By the time I get to that part of the meal, I'm usually tired and already satiated. So I look for lightness, sharp or acidic flavors -- almost never chocolate although I love it. Or just some dessert wine, eau de vie, or a flavored grappa.

But why is it that something like creme brulee and tiramisu have become pervasive?

When was the last time you saw a dessert souflee or a napoleon offered on a menu?  More excitement, less boring please.

Crème brûlée and tiramisu are rich, relatively soft, mild (if not made well, which they rarely are :sad: ), and safe. And, yes, BORING!!!!! It takes a really interesting variation for me to order c.b., such as a ginger version or some other strong flavor.

As for the soufflé question: actually, last Friday, at Bayard's. Choice of chocolate, Grand Marnier, raspberry, coffee, and something else. And I believe La Petite Auberge still offers them as well.

Do you mean a REAL (classic) napoleon -- milles feuilles pastry, etc.? Or the New-Age type stuff, deconstructed, or made with bizarre ingredients?

#29 Steve Klc

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 09:34 AM

Wgallois--very interesting angle--how does one go about ordering dessert and what are the possible strategies for success? I'd never heard your strategy expressed before but I do the very same thing--when I have no knowledge going in about what is good--I usually order "interesting" or "different."

That said, I have no problem with what some perceive as boring or pedestrian--brownies, vanilla ice cream, creme brulee--as long as they are good. As Suzanne notes, all too often even the simple desserts are not good. This is the real problem and I wish more restaurant critics pick up on this distinction: it is not that these classic or boring desserts are classic, boring or just not very interesting, the problem is that they are not GOOD.

Chefs and restaurateurs who do not hire and support pastry talent--and do not place the requisite emphasis on desserts if they try to do them themselves--should be criticized publicly. It is not enough for a critic to use a throwaway line in a review saying the desserts were perfunctory or not to bother. Too often, the problem lies at the feet of the chef or owner.

Give me a good creme brulee--and by the way, it's not as easy to do a good creme brulee as some might think. (Another thread.)

Now, my strategies (or is this tactics?) are not quite 100% the same thing as you saying "you choose the dish which you think that you would like least," because my experience tells me I'd probably think I'd like the brownie/vanilla ice cream/creme brulee least.

But, a little bit more about my "strategy." Unless I know of the pastry chef or have heard reports of at least decent desserts at a restaurant, I often do the cheese thing, sometimes order a nice dessert wine as a liquid dessert, or don't order a dessert, go home, and nibble on some terribly expensive varietal bittersweet chocolate (with pure cacao butter content and no added vegetable fats, of course) or some Haagen Dazs vanilla swiss almond ice cream. I usually eat out with my wife, also a professional pastry chef, who typically orders dessert everywhere no matter what, and I sit smugly across the table muttering "I told you so" when the dessert lets her down.

I feel pain when dessert sucks and suck they do.

Except when the chance dessert doesn't let her down--or when we know ahead of time the desserts might be good--or when we're recognized as pastry chefs--and then we get all the desserts, many more than we could actually eat in terms of room left in our gullet. To see them, revel in them, appreciate the skill and choice of flavors and "application of technique" or the "very good shopping," whichever the case may be. We start thinking about the menu of desserts as a whole--how it fits with the meal and the cuisine which precedes it, figuring out what equipment they might have, how many hands might be involved in the preparation, we look at things like texture and crunch and hot versus cold all across the menu, we look at how thin, how light, how colorful, how seasonal, how a la minute things are--across the menu. So in a sense, when warranted, we enjoy the dessert menu as we have enjoyed the savory menu and hold it to the same extended scrutiny.

The problem is very few places warrant such attention.

And always chocolate.

Now, my question for you wgallois and everyone else--do you order differently if you know that there is a full time pastry chef in the restaurant? Do you ever ask "who" the pastry chef is--to gauge the response of the server or do you just assume a restaurant must have a pastry chef? This is tied into a larger theme--which affects dessert selection and choice--which is that pastry chefs are losing jobs, pay is declining, and all this is occuring as pastry chefs are supposedly gaining in prestige and awareness as never before.
Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant
Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

#30 tsquare

tsquare
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Posted 07 January 2003 - 10:47 AM

When the Seattle scene was blistering hot, the new restaurants identified their pastry chefs on their menus. It was exciting to see what they were creating, and sometimes amazingly good to eat those creations. As the economy cooled, the pastry chefs were let go. For awhile, the same desserts stayed on the menus, though the quality started to erode. Now, it seems like most of these places (not all) have simplified their offerings. Lots of variations in house made ice creams - some wonderful flavors - accompanied by a sweet bite of something else, like warmed fruit or cookies. Rounding out the menus are fresh fruit pies/crisps, lemon tarts, the occassional cake, or the ever popular gooey chocoalte molten soft center mini cake. I still like to look, but am less likely to save room for dessert.

For entrees and desserts - I prefer to order things I am less likely to make at home. Gives me a reputation for ordering the weirdest thing on the menu, but I am more selective than that these days.