Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mellow and Moelleux

I was so delighted to have Chef Daniel Walther attending the practical today. Oddly ironic that as we were about to make petit-fours moelleux, we had the most mellow chef at the school there to observe and guide us.

Chef Walther had taught me for at least two of the inspiring Saturday workshops I’d done at Le Cordon Bleu, prior to enrolling in this basic pastry certificate program. By my definition, he has an ideal teaching style… a calm and patient disposition which puts everyone at ease, yet his mastery commands respect of everyone in the room. When he steps up to help you at your work station, he does this in a way demonstrates his competence yet doesn’t erode your self-confidence. And he explains everything…not just on technique but regarding ingredients, not only to answer the questions you asked but to offer information on the questions you might not even know to ask. For example, today I learned even more about egg white properties that I never knew before, and it is these details which I feel really help me understand the why as much as the how. And this all happened as easily as having a conversation with a trusted friend. Fantastic!

So even though the class was having another early morning of frantic whisking, the room was filled with smiling faces and happy chatter as Chef Walther circulated the room and attended to each of us. From just one recipe of almond meringue, we prepared batons de marechaux, miroirs and eponges and the yields for each were very generous. The final results for everyone looked beautiful.

It is hard to say which of these three biscuits would be my favorite. The batons are covered with chopped almonds and finished with a super thin covering of dark chocolate, so based on this finition alone it has a strong vote from me. The miroirs contain a touch of almond frangipane and are glazed with a mixture of rum icing and nappage d’abricot. These were pretty to look at, although for my taste these were a bit too heavy on the rum and a bit too light on the frangipane so were less appealing. The eponges are ball shapes which are covered in sliced almonds before baking; to finish they are sandwiched together with a thin layer of raspberry jam and garnished with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar. The eponges had the most mouth appeal as almond and raspberry are excellent fraternal flavors; coupled with the compact shape and light airiness of the cookie they were easy to savor in one mouthful.

I would like to try the batons again in future…I think I found these the most challenging in terms of piping out neat shapes and particularly in achieving an even finition of chocolate. Certainly learning more about the versatility of the almond meringue recipe was inspiring and will leave me pondering a few variations for future.

No comments: