sorbet

Girly Cranberries

Cranberries, thyme, kalamata olives, and cream

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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.

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Next, we soaked the olives in cold water to remove some of the saltiness.

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Finally, we boiled the olive pieces in sugar to make a caramel and then set them on a silpat to harden.

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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!

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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!).

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We blanched the thyme in boiling water for around 30 seconds, then blended the thyme with a neutral oil until it was smooth.

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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!

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As the berries cooked, we noticed that the berries started to foam considerably.

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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!

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The similarities to the Thanksgiving side dish stopped there, though. We strained the pulp from the liquid and set aside the liquid for later.

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Finally, we ran the pulp through a food processor and then through our ice cream machine to make the sorbet.

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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!

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We started by separating the whites from some eggs and beating them into a stiff-peaked meringue.

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Next, we gently folded in some of the cranberry purée we made earlier to make a light pink mixture.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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We ultimately ended up dropping the components on the plate from a distance of about 1 meter after carefully standing up the cranberry chips.

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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!

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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!

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Fruit Paste and Fruit Sorbet

Strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice

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Being someone that really loves food, I can’t really think of any foods that I don’t like or least nothing that I would not try at least once (not speaking for Melissa, of course!). Well, that’s not entirely true, there is one exception–strawberries! I grew up with a severe allergy to strawberries until around the age of 18, and therefore formed quite an aversion to the seedy red fruit. The reason we are focusing so much on strawberries is because it made logical sense to use all of the strawberries in their entirety after making the Strawberry Stem Water (the recipes do give you the option to use quite a few other fruits).

These recipes are the second stage of the Strawberry’s destruction and uses the whole strawberries after their hull removal in the previous post.

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First, the whole strawberries were blended into a smooth purée.

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The purée was then passed through our very fine meshed conical strainer to remove the “pulp”. The resulting purée was silky and smooth. The pulp was set aside for a future recipe (stay tuned for that!).

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In the picture below, you can see approximately how much pulp (on the left) we got out of our two pounds of strawberries. There’s an interesting differentiation in colour between the two. We separated the blended strawberries into two portions to use in these two recipes.

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The next step is where things got a little complicated for us. The recipe calls for yellow peach, which didn’t make sense to us, so we contacted the restaurant for clarification. It turns out, the recipe should call for yellow pectin. If anyone reading this is going to try this recipe, note this substitution!

Without thinking too much about it, we picked up some pectin in the canning section of the grocery store. Getting back home and ready to add it to the purée, we noticed something disconcerting. The regular “pectin crystals” package sold for making jams and jellies is not a pure form of pectin; it’s a combination of sugar, funicular acid and pectin, in that order. After doing some research online, it was really interesting to learn that pectin is a naturally occurring bio-polymer the walls of cells. To be used as a gelling agent, it requires sugar and acid.

Warning: Science! Low pH environments cause pectin molecules to bind together through hydrogen bonding. Sugar binds with the water in the solution and forces pectin to bind together to form the matrix needed to form a gel. The NH pectin that we need in this recipe, has added calcium bonds, which helps the gel become thermally reversible (and thus melts in your mouth).

Anyways, needless to say, we were lucky to be able to find the right pectin! We just adjusted the recipe accordingly to account for the added sugar and acid in the pectin we purchased.

The purée was brought to a simmer and mixed with water, sugar, glucose, lemon juice and citric acid. The mixture was then transferred to a parchment paper-lined dish and put into the fridge to cool and (hopefully) set.

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This resulting mixture was a glossy and viscous strawberry syrup, which tasted like the smoothest strawberry jam we had ever tasted!

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To our delight, the mixture set beautifully and we were left with a very firm gel. This is where we had some fun cutting up the gel into shapes and trying different approaches to plating.

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Here you can see the consistency of the gel:

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The final product was coated in some sugar to make it a little less sticky and easier to pick up and eat.

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We really enjoyed making this recipe. It played to our nerdy side to learn the science behind pectin and its role in making this sweet candy. I would really love to try this recipe with some blueberries or raspberries when they are in season again!

While snacking on the fruit paste candies, we added some sugar to what was left of the strawberry purée and some lemon juice to adjust the acidity. The mixture was then churned in our ice cream maker until it became a smooth sorbet. This was then placed into the freezer overnight.

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The following day, we were excited to plate up this dessert! The sorbet was a little hard, but we let it sit out for a few minutes to soften it slightly. Remember the Rhubarb Cannoli we made? Fortunately, we kept the leftover strawberry powder–it was a perfect accompaniment to this sorbet (hooray for hoarding powders)! We also still have our Elderberry, Blood Orange, and Grapefruit powders, maybe one day these will come in handy as well!

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All that was left to do was to pour some strawberry powder on a plate, quenelle the sorbet, and eat!

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This was simply wonderful! The acidity of the sorbet worked perfectly with the sweet and crunchy texture of the powdered sugar. We literally ate all of the sorbet we made in a matter of minutes, it was delicious (apologies to the friends we could have shared this with!).

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Banana Sorbet and Mousse with Dry Saffron Meringue

Banana, eggs, cream and saffron

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We were so impressed with the Pom Pom Pom recipe that we opted for another dessert–and we weren’t disappointed! This recipe was a lot more involved than we had initially anticipated… it consists of 4 major parts:

  • Banana sorbet
  • Banana powder
  • Banana mousse
  • Saffron meringue

We decided to undertake this over two days in order to allow some time in between each component. First we made the sorbet, which involved infusing chopped banana into some cream, milk, and vanilla. We then passed the mixture through a chinois and set the banana pulp aside for the following component.

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Next we added some egg yolks and whisked and heated the sieved mixture into a custard. This was then run through our ice cream maker attachment for our stand mixer and placed into a mould in the freezer. So far so good!

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We then started on the banana powder, which was slightly more stressful. This used the pulpy excess from the first part of the recipe and requires blending it with egg white powder, sugar, and water. The mixture was then spread as thinly as we could manage on our silicon baking mat, and baked for the allotted amount of time.

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This is where things started to get stressful… after the required amount of time had passed, we still didn’t have a hard crispy banana cracker. Instead we had a partially dehydrated, but still mushy substance. We figure that this is probably due to the size of our silicon baking mat (11 5/8″ x 16 3/8″)–it’s size is limited by our shamefully small oven. So to accommodate this, we allowed this to bake for more than double the time, and flipped it during baking. We were fortunate to have gotten the result shown below!

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We blended the crispy banana cracker into a powder and started with the saffron meringue, which had a surprisingly similar procedure. We allowed for some saffron to bloom in some egg whites. This was our first time working with saffron, we had picked some up from the Jean-Talon market spice store (Olives & Épices) the last time we were in Montreal, but had never been brave enough to use it!

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Next we whisked the saffron and egg whites into a meringue with stiff peaks.

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This mixture also needed to be spread thinly and baked, but we learned our lesson from the banana powder and instead employed some parchment paper and a rolling pin to get a very thin layer of meringue.

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The final component was the banana mousse, which was simple enough but required 6 hours in the fridge. The mousse required mixing egg yolks, corn starch, cream, and some of the banana infusion we made earlier into a custard. Next, it was poured into a siphon and charged with N2O. We decided to put the mousse aside in the fridge and plate up the final dish the next day (we were exhausted!).

Sunday comes along and we get to work plating while there is still a lot of natural light for photographs. We removed the sorbet from the mould and carefully siphoned mouse around it.

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Next we used a squeeze bottle to surround the dessert with molasses and lightly scattered some banana powder and saffron meringue over the dessert and plating surface.

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The resulting dessert was SO worth the hours of effort! It was surprising to us how much of a natural banana flavour came across in this recipe. We’ve tried several banana desserts in the past and were shocked at how “unmodified” the dessert tasted. It felt like even though we manipulated the banana in several ways for this dessert, its taste stayed true to the ingredient. The saffron and molasses complimented the banana, and added some texture and sweetness to the dish. It isn’t a flavour combination we would have been able to come up with on our own, and we are very impressed.

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Yum!

Note: We deviated slightly from the plating procedure outlined in the book, if you try this recipe, you may get a different visual result!

Pom Pom Pom

Apple, apple, apple IMG_1386 Our repertoire has so far focused almost exclusively on elements of entrées and mains. This isn’t intentional, we aren’t dessert-ists… and to prove it, we’ve taken our first crack at a dessert from the book. This is a signature dish for Toque! and is one of the most stunning dishes, visually speaking. We started by making the apple sorbet. This element needed to be done in advance, so we did this the day before. The apples were washed and baked in a pan until they were uniformly soft. We initially placed them on a flat baking sheet… we hadn’t considered the amount of juice that the apples would release, and mid-way had to pour the partially liquefied apples and their juice into a pan. IMG_1282 After they cooled a little, we passed the apples through a potato ricer. I’m pretty sure this is not how we were supposed to do that, but we used what we have! That potato ricer has gotten so much use–we’ve made hash browns, mashed potatoes, dehydrated ricotta–and now apple sauce!

Before we baked the apple slices, we boiled some apple juice (the good old stuff from a can) with sugar and Madagascar vanilla beans. After the mixture cooled, we added some gelatin and poured it into a siphon and charged it with N2O to refrigerate. It was important for this step to be done early since it required hours in the fridge to set.

Next we boiled the purée with sugar and allowed the mixture to cool before running it through our ice cream maker. The next day, we sliced some apples with a mandolin and prepared a simple syrup to dip them in. IMG_1315 The slices were then baked on a baking sheet and carefully flipped halfway through the cooking time. We had some trouble getting them to crisp up, but after a few minutes out of the oven, they crisped up quite nicely! IMG_1354

The next element we needed to complete was the crumble. This was fairly simple, we ground up some almonds and mixed in some oatmeal, demerera sugar, flour, and butter in the stand mixer. This was then baked in the oven and broken apart to form the crumble. IMG_1366 With all of the components done, it was finally time to assemble the dessert (and not a moment too soon, the apple chips were almost snacked into oblivion!). IMG_1376   This is an intermediate step that showcases the apple mousse. IMG_1407 And here is the final result. This is an amazing dessert–each element showcased the apple flavour in a different way, but worked perfectly together:

  • The apple chips were sweet and crispy.
  • The apple mousse was tart and contrasted the crunch of the apple chips well.
  • The sorbet was a less sweet adaptation of the fruit that toned down the sweetness of the mousse and the apple chips.

We have so much of the crumble left that we will be making this again very soon!