Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 98 - 99

It's finals week in Baking and Pastry. We have a written final and then over a three day span we have been assigned to make the following items: one spice chiffon cake with buttercream icing, one vanilla bean cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, six apple cinnamon muffins with streusel topping, and three creme brulees for grading. Because Chef Mah is the coolest instructor ever, he let us play with the flavor profiles of each item and "make them our own". 

I decided to make dulce de leche which is a caramel-like milk sauce that literally translates to "candy made of milk". I painted each of four layers of the chiffon cake with the dulce de leche and then I mixed some of it with a bit of buttercream in between each layer. The outside of the cake was iced with simple buttercream and then topped with a bit more of the dulce de leche. 

Dulce De Leche

1 qt whole milk
1 c sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 T water
1/2 T baking soda

Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile dissolve the baking soda in the water in a separate bowl. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda mixture and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

I baked the individual custards for the creme brulees and laced them with fresh vanilla beans. I will finish them off tomorrow before I present them with the help of some sugar and a blow torch. I made a classic New York cheesecake but I've got some raspberry and passionfruit puree to play with tomorrow when I plate it. I decided to wait until tomorrow morning to make the apple muffins because nothing beats a warm muffin right out of the oven, right? Before I finished my prep work for the day I made some tuiles for garnishing. I flavored the tuiles with some earl grey tea which left them with a wonderful essence of bergamot orange. 

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