Cranberries, thyme, kalamata olives, and cream
We took a fairly lengthy break from the blog for the holidays, but we are finally back and catching up on the writing for our completed recipes! We struggled with this post a little because we were unable to get the plating to look the way we wanted it to, so we tried something a little bit different.
The ironically named (based on our plating style choice) Girly Cranberries recipe consists of 4 parts:
- Cranberry Sorbet
- Cranberry Chips
- Candied and dried kalamata olives
- Thyme Oil
We started with the candied kalamata olives since it appeared to take some time to make. First, we cut the olives into slivers.
Next, we soaked the olives in cold water to remove some of the saltiness.
Finally, we boiled the olive pieces in sugar to make a caramel and then set them on a silpat to harden.
The resulting candied olives were sweet and salty–definitely a strange start to this recipe! We snacked on them while we made the other components, they were surprisingly delicious!
In order to have all of the garnishing elements completed before the actual dessert, we made the thyme oil next. We noticed that this is a similar process to the scallion oil we made for the Tomatoes and Burnt Bread recipe, and that we will be making a number of herb-infused oils in the future (something to look forward to, they are amazing!).
We blanched the thyme in boiling water for around 30 seconds, then blended the thyme with a neutral oil until it was smooth.
We placed the blended thyme in the fridge to sit overnight and then turned our attention to the cranberry purée, which is used as a base for both the sorbet and chips. The cranberries were heated with a little bit of water and sugar. The goal of this exercise was to ensure that all of the berries burst, a process reminiscent to making popcorn! This was the first time we had worked with fresh cranberries, and we were surprised how loud they actually sound when they rupture!
As the berries cooked, we noticed that the berries started to foam considerably.
By the end of the cooking process, all of the berries appeared to have burst, and the the foam subsided. Really, it just look like we had made a traditional cranberry sauce for a Thanksgiving meal!
The similarities to the Thanksgiving side dish stopped there, though. We strained the pulp from the liquid and set aside the liquid for later.
Finally, we ran the pulp through a food processor and then through our ice cream machine to make the sorbet.
After placing the sorbet in the freezer, we started what is by far the hardest component of this dish–the cranberry chips. This wasn’t the hardest component in theory, but we found the execution to be challenging and tried making these twice!
We started by separating the whites from some eggs and beating them into a stiff-peaked meringue.
Next, we gently folded in some of the cranberry purée we made earlier to make a light pink mixture.
If you’ve ever worked with meringue before, you’ll know that time is of the essence in order to preserve the delicate air bubbles. The first time we did the cranberry chips, we rushed to get the mixture onto parchment paper and ended up spreading the mixture too thick. The result was that we had a thick, not-so-crispy chip that was inedible. The second time around, we took our time to spread smaller batches of meringue on the parchment paper with a cake knife to get a thinner, crispier chip.
It took some time, but we were able to dehydrate these in the oven at a low heat to get the chips we were hoping for!
The following day, we passed the blended thyme and oil through a coffee filter.
This oil is amazing on it’s own, but definitely a strange addition to a dessert! We noted that there was a heavier precipitate at the bottom after filtering, so we tried to use just the clear green part of the oil using a dropper.
Finally, we whipped some cream with a little bit of sugar to put with this dessert. Our final challenge was to plate this masterpiece of components… a challenge we tried again and again to succeed at. The main problem we encountered is that Melissa’s plating style (neat, tidy and aligned) wouldn’t work with this recipe as it ended up looking too staged, so David took the reigns on this one! We’ve seen a number of disorganized plating styles and thought we’d give that a try!
We ultimately ended up dropping the components on the plate from a distance of about 1 meter after carefully standing up the cranberry chips.
We found that the sorbet had a very low melting point and really didn’t make it to the plating stage well, so we dropped that too!
This was definitely one of the stranger desserts we’ve endeavoured to make, but each of the flavours brought something special to the plate. The saltiness of the olives contrasted really well with sweetness from the whipped cream and the tang of the cranberries. We found that the thyme oil was a great accent to the flavours without being overpowering, and that the differences in texture left nothing to be desired. This dessert really does have everything you could want and we loved it!