Sunday, 7 February 2016

Delice of Chocolate, Chocolate Sorbet and Cumin Caramel

More Fat Duck treats coming your way this week as I get to grips with chocolate, in all it's glory. This dessert contains various chocolate preparations, including the dreaded tempering process. In basic form it's a set ganache shrouded in a tempered chocolate band topped with chocolate sauce accompanied by a cumin flavoured caramel and pulled chocolate tuile.

First port of call was to make the base for the ganache's. I set about combining white and milk chocolate with crushed cornflakes, mixed spice and popping candy. I used white chocolate instead of cocoa butter given that white chocolate effectively is cocoa butter just with a few extra flavourings. The popping candy provides the surprise as you munch away with little explosions happening in the mouth.

Base and Chocolate Sauce

The ganache preparation then consists of whipping cream heated and poured over chocolate. Yes it really is that easy, are you sure this is Heston? The only other addition is softened butter beaten in to add richness. This mixture then gets poured onto the chilled bases and left to set in the fridge. The first problem came about when the ganache only just set with the concern that removing the ring mould would have made the ganache collapse. So I placed them into the freezer just to be sure.

To make the chocolate sauce that sits on top of the delice you have to make a caramel by melting sugar in a pan, adding water, which caused my caramel to seize momentarily but keep the heat up high and the sugar will melt back into the water. Cocoa powder, coffee beans and salt then get mixed in with 70% chocolate to finish. This creates a delicious, rich sauce with amazing shine.

Cumin caramel infusion
Finished caramel

The sorbet is another advance item as the mix needs 24 hours to mature. Whisking cocoa powder into milk while bringing to the boil and then adding in chopped chocolate completes the first stage. Once the mixture is blitzed and passed through a sieve it gets churned. The sorbet had a smooth texture with a lovely bitter chocolate taste.

Sorbet prep

With the elements rapidly falling off the tick sheet the next to fall was the cumin caramel, undoubtedly the most unorthodox part of the dish. You can really put cumin in a caramel? Well apparently so, lets do it! Whipping cream is brought to a simmer and in goes the cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds to infuse for half an hour. After that you make a caramel and add the cream and unsalted butter to finish. Top tip here is don't have the heat too high when you add the cream as it bubbles up like a volcano. When tasting the caramel I couldn't detect the spices too well so I added a pinch of salt to bring the flavours out.

You can see the entire preparation for this dessert on the video below from 7:40. For some reason in the book Heston wants you to build the delice in it's separate elements at the last minute. Even with 43 chef's in the restaurant helping me this would be a nightmare. So I thanked god I found the whole construction process demonstrated in this great series.

My old enemy tempered chocolate came along next. It's a hard process with three key temperature points. Instead of doing Heston's method involving sous-vide bag's, a water bath and hours of your life that you'll never get back, I went for Gordon Ramsay's microwave method, melting dark chocolate to 45C, seeding with chocolate to cool to 27C and gently heating to 31C. This is when things became difficult..........

I had measured my acetate sheets to wrap around the delice's and leave a gap at the top for the sauce. Unfortunately the measurement was slightly off by an inch involving panic and cutting a chocolate coated strip with scissors. Covered in chocolate and trying as best as possible to wrap a neat circle around the delice was hell, but somehow it resulted in a half-decent job.

I left the ice cream to soften enough to pull out two rochers. Taking a tip from someone who worked at The Fat Duck, I pre-froze a small tray and placed the rocher's in the freezer to allow a firmness prior to serving instead of melting as soon as it hit's the plate, you can have that tip for free.

Last element to go was the pulled sugar tuile. To make this you melt fondant and glucose together before adding a small amount of pure chocolate and then stretching out a tuile. I went with supermarket standard fondant icing in place of the stuff you usually find in patisserie shops and online, fondant icing and patissiere's fondant are pretty much the same thing, also I couldn't find the 100% pure chocolate Heston specifies so ended up with 90% Lindt dark chocolate.

Sugar tuile ready for pulling


Asbestos hands come in handy for the stretching stage of the tuile as heating in the oven softens the caramel to become pliable for stretching. After taking the mix out of the oven I stretched a corner of the mix into a decent shape resembling the book's version. They do set incredibly quickly and look striking once finished.

Plating wasn't helped by Blumenthal's insistence on putting the chocolate sauce into the fridge along with the caramel. Both had set to firm and needed a quick blast in the microwave. Not something you want when you have sorbet melting and delice's collapsing. Once the mixtures were at a liquid stage again I placed two pool's of cumin caramel either end of the plate and the delice in between. The sorbet goes to the lower pool of caramel and is topped by the tuile. Eagle eyed viewers may note that the pepper tuile is missing but in all honesty I couldn't be bothered with it.

The final plate

This is a heavy dessert. Very, very rich as you may expect given the amount of chocolate elements. I can only think that this was served in very small portions when it featured on the menu. Having said that the warm spices through the chocolate go very well indeed. Crunchy base and the popping candy offer a surprise with the tuile adding more texture. The delice wasn't be honest I didn't expect it to be, but the tempering of the chocolate restored some pride and the finish on the top with the textures underneath gave me reason to smile. It's not my favourite dessert from The Fat Duck cookbook but its taught me a great deal. I'm now off to pull some more sugar.....

1 comment:

  1. Can look at my blog and see prices, and nutritional facts of sorbet at different grocery stores.