- Tarte Chocolat Framboise avec sa Nougatine (raspberry ganache, nougat)
- Tarte aux Fromage (caramelized apples, fromage blanc appareil)
Day 5 was a day for chocolate lovers. While I’m not a huge one myself, I can definitely appreciate a good ganache. I personally found the raspberry flavor a bit overwhelming (1:2 ratio of raspberry puree to 58% chocolate), but that’s what’s great about this course and cooking in general. I get to learn the techniques from Chef D and fiddle with the recipes at home (like the coffee flans au caramel I made the other day).
The appareil for the cheese tart started with a crème pâtissière base, into which fromage blanc and French meringue were folded. Fromage blanc is a fresh soft cheese that has a consistency of sour cream and, in spite of its rich and creamy flavor, is actually relatively low in calories (even the French can be health-conscious, I guess). With the addition of the French meringue (which I’ll go into further detail in Day 6), the appareil was essentially the makings of a cheese soufflé. And it was perfectly light and airy.
In pratique we made the raspberry ganache tart, which I’d been looking forward to decorating since Chef D showed us various ways to shape and play with the nougat during morning class. But nougat isn’t so easy to work with. It needs to be soft enough to cut, but firm enough that it’s not a hot mess. While Chef D made it seem like a breeze (duh), I quickly learned that I had about a 23 second window from the moment I took the nougat out of the oven until it cooled and became too hard to cut without breaking. Despite several trips to the oven, I ultimately ended up with a horde of nougat crumbles in my efforts to punch out decorative circles. Luckily, I had just enough for a final decor and took the crumbled leftovers home, because crumbled or not, nougat is delicious.
- Tartelettes Citrons Meringuées (lemon cream, Italian meringue, syrup-poached lemon rind)
- Meringue Français
- Meringue Suisse
- Meringue Italienne
Prior to this class, my gut reaction to meringue was “blech.” I would think of an airy, malt ball-like cookie that was cloyingly sweet and reminded me of pumice stone. Consequently, I avoided meringue whenever possible. Except in macarons, which I adore for their dense, chewy shell (All hail, Pierre Herme!) But I was terribly confused by that. I knew macaron batter called for a meringue base, so how was my favorite cookie able to escape the the unappealing texture I associated with meringue? I just didn’t get it.
But now I do! Well, kinda. At least more than I did.
Thanks to this class, I now know the differences between French, Swiss and Italian meringue and have adjusted my former (and admittedly unfair) bias toward the dessert. Meringue, as I’m sure many of y’all know, is a catch-all phrase for a dessert made from beaten egg whites and sugar. While it can stand alone, meringue is often folded into other mixtures to lighten the texture, such as soufflé. So I don’t actually dislike meringue. I just don’t like a certain style of plain-baked meringue (coughFrenchcough).
Here’s a quick summary of what I learned:
- French meringue adds sugar midway through, after the process of beating the egg whites and and breaking down the proteins has already begun.
- Swiss meringue adds sugar from the start, prior to beating the egg whites and breaking down the proteins.
- Italian meringue follows the same process as French meringue, but calls for the addition of boiling sugar syrup in its final stages.
Because sugar weighs down the egg whites, Swiss meringue boasts a chewier, denser texture than French meringue, which begins the volumization process prior to incorporating sugar. Italian meringue, however, is in a whole different ballpark with the addition of sugar syrup. Whereas French or Swiss meringue are typically baked, Italian meringue is soft and primarily used for decor or as a base for mousses. It reminds me of marshmallow fluff.
Phew! So now I’ve caught y’all up on what I’ve been up to the past few weeks. Starting tomorrow (Day 7), pâtes battues, or cake batters.