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Making Lovely Desserts Onsite, a la minute


Abra
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This is a marvelous thread, I've gotten a lot out of it too. Just a quick idea. Cannoli filling is delicious, easy to make and can be presented in a lot of different ways with different garnishes, like in a tart shell with dark chocolate shavings and pistacios or in a crepe. It's versatile like a custard or mousse would be, but doesn't require the fuss.

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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Oh, thanks for the great ideas! I hate to think that 50 ramekins are in my future, but that may be reality - although I'm usually cleaned up and out of there as soon as dessert is served. Still, it would open up my options considerably.

I've never heard of bubble sugar, nor do I know where to buy or what to do with isomalt. I seem to remember an isomalt thread - I'll go look it up. And then, how do you do the bubble sugar? I bought some gold lustre, thinking I could apply it with a paintbrush, but that was a flop. With the little panna cottas, how do you unmold them perfectly? Phyllo cups and cookie cups are other ideas that I think would work well for me. Would you give us your cookie cup recipe, Wendy, pretty please? Tiramisu-type dishes are also a great idea, and Eaton Mess sounds interesting, although I'd probably have to change the name here. The only thing that worries me about anything served in a glass is that the client probably doesn't have enough glasses, or enough matching glasses. So far I've been using those small clear plastic glasses for parfaits, but they always feel tacky to me, and I've never used them for a really fancy party. I wonder whether there are some nicer alternatives out there. And cannoli filling is really a good thing to use. Once I put small scoops of it on top of little amaretti, and topped them each with one perfect raspberry. Those were gorgeous and simple for a buffet

And then for Herb and Sim - actually, I'm not at all struggling for business, negotiating for a better deal, or anything like that. I really like what I'm doing and how I'm doing it! My clients love my work, and pay me well for it. Some people do prefer a regular catered function, but for some people it's a thrill to have everything homemade on site, and guests like to see the cooking happening. Of course, by the time the guests arrive the logistical problems are solved and (hopefully) all they see is seamless work. It's just a lot harder to guarantee that when you work the way I do. If I had a commercial kitchen I'd definitely do offsite prep, and the desserts would be the first thing I'd get on the onsite list, so that I could really make more special and beautiful stuff. If you'd like to expand your thinking on what a personal chef is and does, click here Personal Chefs Network All I'm trying to do with this thread is improve my desserts, not my lot in life!

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Which is another idea, bubble sugar is about the easiest quickest garnish you can do. Are you familar with it and how to make it? I add dried food colors, edible metalic dusts, and dragee's into mine when I melt the isomalt. I've also done some simple shaping/bending of the warm sugar after it's baked to give it further interest.

ooooh, i will confess my ignorance gladly, in hopes of learning a new trick. what, pray tell, is bubble sugar, and how does one make it? it sounds like a really good thing to know about!

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Abra,

no matching glasses, not enough room in the fridge.... hmmm, who are you working for? :laugh:

Panna Cotta is the easiest thing in the worl to unmould - if you chill it in a loaf pan, go the oil and plastic wrap way, it can't fail!

But generally I much prefer making panna cotta with agar-agar (remember that it needs simmering in the milk or milk/cream or cream/buttermilk ot milk/cocnut milk mixture) for 5 to 10 mintes). It's guaranteed to unmould effortlessly!

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Mostly I work for just regular people! Agar-agar, now there's something I've never really thought of outside of biology lab. I'm not even sure that we can buy it for food use. Hopefully others here will chime in and set me straight.

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Abra,

though agar-agar comes from seaweeds, it's also called China Grass - and it's definitely edible!

I am surprised it's an unusual item in the US.

I live in India for 6 months of the year, and there it is THE preferred jelling ingredient, as many people are vegetarian and gelatine usually isn't.

But food taboos aside, I think it makes much better desserts.

In Italy, I would use Colla di Pesce to make pannacotta, with equally fine results.

On the whole I am not a great fan of gelatine, I think it's the equivalent of using supermarket cooking wine instead of a Sauterne or Chablis in cooking.

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actually if you can't get agar agar use the vegetarian version of gelatine sometimes called vege-gel its the same stuff. The good thing about agar agar and vegegel is that they start to solidify even at room temperature.

If you want more info on agar agar and recipes try the japanese forum as there several threads about it.

Remeber something the wow factor is giving your guest something that they have never tried before.

anyway one of my fastest and most sucessful desserts is molten centre chocolate

souffle prep time is 7 minute baking time is 10 minutes.

Admittedly i never made it for 30-50 covers in one go but this is such a simple recipe i can't imagine it being too much of a chore.

try this recipe for 1-2 servings

1. whisk one medium egg to soft peaks

2. whisk in 2 tsp pf caster sugar to the egg

3. keep whisking until it just starts to hold its ribbon

4. Melt 50g of 70% cocao chocolate with 25g of unsalted butter and mix together.

5. Whisk the melted chocolate and butter mix into the beaten eggs

6. fold in 1 tsp of plain flour

7. Pour into two 6cm buttered and sugared ramekin or dariol moulds

8. bake for 10 minutes

the most i made this for was 18 and i used two non stick muffin trays instead of individual ramekins.

or you can invest in an ice cream machine nothing impresses like a rich freshly made ice cream.

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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You know, origami, that is a brilliant idea about the ice cream. I do have an ice cream maker that makes only a quart at a time, but I have two canisters and so can make two quarts. Homemade ice cream goes a long way - I can't believe I never thought of this before! I make really good ice cream, too, but it never occurred to me. Eureka!

Oh - maremosso, that's very interesting about the different jelling properties, and I understand the wine analogy perfectly. I've never used anything but gelatine, so I didn't know it made such a dramatic difference.

Edited by Abra (log)
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Bubble sugar (man I should look in a book, they probably call this something else?that's what I call it)..........is made placing isomalt between two sheets of silpat. You heat that in the oven for aprox. 10 min. until the isomalt melts. When cooled, the isomalt will have air pockets/bubbles in it from having the second silpat weighting the isomalt beads down while heating. It's easily removed from the silpats, you break it into what ever size piece you want as a garnish.

Adding colors and metalic ducts colors the isomalt. If left plan while preparing the isomalt turns clear. Where as sugar when melted turns golden.

I don't have that recipe for cookie cups with me at this moment, but I'll post it asap.

When I make panna cotta I spray the mold lightly with pan release. To unmold place the tip of your knive between it and the mold to create an air pocket and the whole thing plops out cleanly. Using disposable plastic cups lets you get more in the refrid. or iced cooler then stemmed goblets (zero clean-up).

I've never used agar-agar, so I can't compare....but I can assure you that when you use the correct amount of gelatin it SHOULD be only enough to set the item, not turn it into jello.

Meringues are fine if you buy them, but you can't make them on the spot in that time frame and still use your oven for the rest of the meal.

Along the lines of a molten cake is the chocolate budini. Which is very similar. But it's served in the dish so demolding is eliminated. Serve with ice cream and yum.

Just as ice cream is good so is homemade sorbet in a hollowed out fruit cup or stemmed glass. A duo or trio is cool. You also can do layered icecreams intermixed with purchased cakes or other items (M.S. has a few decent ones). Layered sorbets (done in a loaf pan) sliced served on a plate. Make an ice cream sandwich with some choc. chip cookies and purchased ice cream.

Chocolate sparkle cookies are like warm molten cakes but they are cookies. So easy and quick to make. Cheaters truffles (just rolled in cocoa powder or something else) are well recieved.

Jeeze what about that lady with the semi-home dessert book. Anything interesting in there?

A scratch angel food cake or chiffon cake is easy and quick to make. So is an upside down fruit cake, pineapple, pear, banana, etc.... Make them fancy by baking them in individual portions (using a muffin tin) for parties.....dollop whipped cream, etc...

Don't buy 50 ramikins..........theres better things to buy that won't break.

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I was also curious about bubble sugar. Googled it and found this. Better picture here. Wendy, is it pretty brittle once cooled? How much heat needs to be applied in order to bend it into the desired shape?

Edited by tejon (log)

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Thank-you for finding those photographs. No, it's not brittle at all. You shape it while its cooling down, it only takes a moment. "How much heat" = just enough to melt it. I use a 350f oven.

Just a note: you don't want to go over board with this either. It's hard sugar and not really something you want to eat any quantity of.

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Wow, that bubble sugar looks neat. I think I'll try it with just regular sugar, since I don't have any isomalt yet and am really curious about it. And thanks for even more great ideas. I am getting so much out of this thread, and this forum, and Wendy, I really want to say how much I appreciate your help. You are so full of good ideas and so generous about taking the time to share them with us. Thank you!

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I tend to pooh-pooh anything that is not homemade, but just remembered this one which brought raves at my first restaurant. The set menu changed weekly, and I offered some kind of ice cream or sorbet, usually homemade, as an alternate dessert for those not having room or not liking the dessert choice of the week.

This particular selection was ice cream sandwiches made from purchased vanilla ice cream and those super thin ginger snaps, with a really good caramel sauce poured over two sandwiches per serving. I called it Ginger Flips.

Two other ice cream sundae desserts with purchased vanilla ice cream also surprisingly "outsold" the main desserts. One had a summer plum-rum-almond compote, and the other featured Kentucky Sauce, a specialty of Louisville KY, its ingredients including lemon, orange, caramel syrup, strawberry jam, bourbon and pecans.

My leftover sorbets were often layered with purchased vanilla ice cream in graham cracker or chocolate cookie pie crusts and topped with meringue for Baked Alaska Pies, often served with a caramel, fruit or chocolate sauce.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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this may sound boring but some of the best endings to a meal have been a good fruit platter.

one of the most amazing desserts i have had was a fruit platter of peeled wedges of pomelo. sprinkled with lemon mint leaves and topped with strands of yellow and pink candy floss. This looked amazing and tasted sweet yet light and refreshing

every single piece of lemon mint, pomelo and candy floss was finished within seconds.

another was a mixed berries and fruit platter marinated in orange blossom water

the orange blossom water really intensified the sweetness and flavour of the fruit each strawberry tasted like an explosion of juicy flavours.

and another is a chocolate fondue just have loads of chopped pieces of fruit in a large platter, a cupful of 6in wooden bamboo skewers and a big bowl of melted chocolate on a hot plate :wub:

all can be prepared before hand and left in a cooler bag until ready to serve.

in this case it will be the presentation that will give the wow factor but arranging it is cheap on time in comparison to other desserts.

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Abra, that won't work with regular sugar. You must have isomalt for the two layered silpat technique. Look here for more info. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=51674

Sure theres other things you can do with regular sugar...if thats what you want. But nothing as quick and effortless with barely any clean-up. With reg. sugar you can pipe it while hot (provided you have thick gloves), make spun sugar, pour it into shards, pull it into spirals (not easy) add chocolate to it for another shard effect, make baskets/cups by drizzling it over a ladle or bowl.

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Abra, would you consider sharing with me your experience of becoming a personal chef, I have been following this thread and have spent some time exploring this area as my next move, but I do not know anyone doing it. my email is kjbenjaminatyahoo.com thanks

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Abra, that won't work with regular sugar. You must have isomalt for the two layered silpat technique. Look here for more info. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=51674

okay, i need to try this. silpats, i got. isomalt, fresh out. is it something i can only find at baker's supply houses, or is it readily available? does it have another name? thanks...i want to play with bubble sugar!

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Abra, that won't work with regular sugar. You must have isomalt for the two layered silpat technique.

Ahhh but regular granulated sugar does work when sandwiched between two sheets of parchment paper, then weighted with a second baking sheet. 350 degrees for 45-50 min. I experimented with it this morning... bubbled just fine; looked just like the picture. :smile:

Di

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This is the recipe I use most often for cookie cups. I got if from a former sous chef I worked with.

Amalio's Cookie Cup:

1/4 c. butter or margarine

1/4 c. br. sugar

1/4 c. corn syrup

1/2 c. Finely chopped nuts (I use pecans, do not chop so fine it's nut flour, nor too course)

1/4 c. ap flour

1/2 tsp. vanilla

I've scaled this up very large, it works at any size keeping everything in proportion. Method: melt butter in pan, stir together sugars and flour, mix everything together over low heat in your pan. Don't cook this, your just warming it. I bake at 350f on parchement paper lined trays. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out, give plenty of room because these spread ALOT during baking. They should become lacy and very thin when baked. They're done when golden brown. Take out of the oven and let them sit briefly (to cool down, but too long and they'll set) before draping them over a cup or bowl to shape and let them cool. They cool in seconds and remain crisp far longer then other tuile recipes I've used similarily.

I hope you enjoy these.

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Rats, the post I just typed here disappeared into the ether. And it was so witty and creative, I swear. Oh well.

Anyway, don't try to make bubble sugar like I did. I followed the recipe in the link, sugar between two silpats at 350 for 20 minutes, and got...warm sugar. I needed the oven to be at 425 for roasting veggies, so I left the sugar in there at 425 for 15 minutes...hot sugar. After 22 minutes at 425...burnt sugar, no bubbles, drips all over the place, ungodly cleanup problem. Bah. Next I'll have to try the 45 minutes at 350 approach.

I can't wait to try the cookie cups. Does it matter whether it's light or dark corn syrup? What size bowl for draping, bigger than a muffin cup?

Ruthcooks, those ice cream preparations sound great. Does the Kentucky sauce have a recipe? It's a weird-sounding ingredient list, and I'm really curious about it.

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don't try to make bubble sugar like I did.  I followed the recipe in the link, sugar between two silpats at 350 for 20 minutes, and got...warm sugar.

Same here... for about 2 seconds I'd considered upping the temperature but opted instead for just re-setting the timer in 15 minute increments.

Di

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Sure, Abra, here it is. I see now that it is a brown sugar syrup instead of a caramel, but with those other ingredients, who could tell? Most useful to have on hand during the holidays, or for a Derby party.

Kentucky Sauce

1 cup each: brown sugar

white sugar

water

1 cup broken pecan halves

1 cup strawberry jam

1 lemon

1 orange

1/2 to 1 cup bourbon

Combine sugars with water and boil to 240 degrees F (this is not quite to the point where it spins a thread, so you'll have to use a thermometer).

Remove from heat and stir in pecans and jam.

Grate zest from lemon and orange and add to mixture. Remove white pith and discard. Chop lemon and orange in a food processor (or cut into very tiny sections by hand) and add to mixture. Stir in bourbon and store sauce in refrigerator to ripen. Keeps indefinitely. Serve over vanilla ice cream.

Makes one quart.

Notes: I use the smaller amount of bourbon and find it to be plenty. This really does get better the longer it sits. To use as a personal chef, I would make it on site at an earlier date OR use it fresh substituting a fruit liqueur (strawberry?)instead of the bourbon so the alcohol flavor would not be so harsh. In that case, you'll have to re-name it, or just add a little token bourbon along with the liqueur.

Edited by ruthcooks (log)

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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