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Suggestions for Iron Dessert competition?


jrshaul
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I've been trying to buff my repertoire of patisserie, and am organizing an impromptu "Iron Dessert" competition amongst my friends. The details are presently being finalized, but I'm hoping the grand bazaar will provide me with an array of possible Secret Ingredients that I might dramatically draw one randomly from a hat.

Requirements include:

1. Available. Participants will be obtaining their own ingredients, so something inexpensive and easily obtained is optimal. The avocado is a good option; the moon-dust of Phobos, less so.

2. Unusual. In contrast to the original Iron Chef's focus on optimal use of, say, milk, I'm going for novelty factor. A good example would be beef suet: While used in desserts for millennia, most people - myself included - have never used it before.

3. Appropriate. Some ingredients - say, marsala wine - have such limited application that the results will likely taste very similar.

4. No balsamic vinegar. On pain of ninja death squad.

Edited by jrshaul (log)
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Unless your friends are the really adventurous sort, don't go too over the top with the ingredients. Making them think, giving them a bit of challenge, expanding their ideas of what can be dessert is a good thing. When it gets down to Sweet Genius-esque "well that's horrible in general as a dessert but it's the best of the bunch considering it has dried squid and pickled onions in it", I think it kinda misses the point. (I wanted to like that show, I was hoping it would be the Chopped of the pastry world. It isn't.) I consider myself very adventurous as far as what can be used in desserts but it still needs to be dessert in the end. We can convince ourselves that the dried squid and pickled onion upside-down cake isn't bad and maybe even actually think so in the context of experimenting or amongst a small group of like-minded people but I try to think about what I might hear if I walked down the street giving bites to random people.

Merstar gave some nice suggestions other than (in my personal opinion) the garlic. Items not commonly used in desserts where you live (but very common in another culture or area, the unfamiliar makes for a good challenge) are good choices. Pairing commonly used ingredients that aren't normally seen used together can provide a nice challenge. Sometimes a common ingredient can be a challenge. Then you have to think outside of what everybody else might be thinking in order to stand out.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I've been cooking on the crazier side of things for a little while with my desserts, here's a few flavors that are still rooted in sanity that turned out well for me:

-Sesame

-Avocado (Good w/ Grapefruit too)

-Some Cheeses (Mascarpone, Goat Cheese, etc.)

-Peas

-Cereals (ala Momofuku Milk Bar)

-Rhubarb

-Yogurt

-Basil

-Mint

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Unless your friends are the really adventurous sort, don't go too over the top with the ingredients. Making them think, giving them a bit of challenge, expanding their ideas of what can be dessert is a good thing. When it gets down to Sweet Genius-esque "well that's horrible in general as a dessert but it's the best of the bunch considering it has dried squid and pickled onions in it", I think it kinda misses the point. (I wanted to like that show, I was hoping it would be the Chopped of the pastry world. It isn't.) I consider myself very adventurous as far as what can be used in desserts but it still needs to be dessert in the end. We can convince ourselves that the dried squid and pickled onion upside-down cake isn't bad and maybe even actually think so in the context of experimenting or amongst a small group of like-minded people but I try to think about what I might hear if I walked down the street giving bites to random people.

Merstar gave some nice suggestions other than (in my personal opinion) the garlic. Items not commonly used in desserts where you live (but very common in another culture or area, the unfamiliar makes for a good challenge) are good choices. Pairing commonly used ingredients that aren't normally seen used together can provide a nice challenge. Sometimes a common ingredient can be a challenge. Then you have to think outside of what everybody else might be thinking in order to stand out.

Ha! I have to agree with you about the garlic. I can't imagine it myself, but I've seen a lot of dessert recipes using it.

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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What about corn? Whole-kernel sweet, freeze dried, popcorn, polenta/cornmeal: it would allow participants to work with a wide range of materials, all corn-based.

I had a corn dessert recently at a restaurant, and it was amazing! If I recall, it was corn sorbet with polenta custard, a corn tuile, and some sort of corn milk sauce.

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Root vegetables such as parsnip or beets

Sweet potato--many varietals: white (boniato), Japanese, Garnett

Squash--many varietals: acorn, butternut, kabocha, spaghetti

Eggplant--used in Italian desserts

Tofu--used in Japanese desserts

And as others have mentioned: corn, avocado, tomato, beer

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What I've got so far:

-Tomatoes

-Hoppy beer (I make toffee with dark porter, so anything but would be cheating.)

-Sesame

-Avocado

-Greek yogurt

-Garlic

-Basil

-Corn

-Squash

-Tofu

-Rosemary.

Any more suggestions? I was thinking also of the following:

-Adzuki beans

-Black tea (green tea is a gimme)

-Rice

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Things not already listed that I've used in experiments and, in some cases, actual desserts - peas, soybeans, miso, soy sauce, chile peppers, carrots, mustard. Not all of the things I did with them were particularly good in my opinion, but I had fun with them all.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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