Monday, May 30, 2011

Desserts for the Summertime!

We made sorbets, ice creams, and delicious iced entremets last week.  These are all of our sorbet preparations about to be mixed in the machine!

This was so much fun--we made the pattern with our fingers.  It's striping for "jaconde" (kind of like a really thin cake)

The batter is spread over the striping very thinly.

And it looks like this when it comes out!

Here's another one.

We used it to line the bottom of our iced entremets.
Almond "dacquoise" bottom with the striped jaconde as a border
So we have the jaconde striping, the almond dacquoise, and then ice cream is spread around the edges.

Then, a pre-made round of coulis and parfait layers is tucked inside the ice cream.

More ice cream is spread over the top, and it's decorated.  Then the ring is taken off.

Beautiful, no?  This one is called "Fraîcheur d'Été" and has lemon coulis, strawberry parfait, and mint ice cream.  Refreshing and summery :)

"Fraicheur d'Eté"  lemon coulis and strawberry parfait with mint ice cream

There are so many flavor possibilities, but they're all made the same way.

I made this one!  "Bourgogne" with Black-currant coulis, Blackberry parfait, and Raspberry sorbet

This one was my absolute favorite.  It's called "William" I'm not sure why, but it's delicious.  Maybe it's because William is a somewhat classy name, especially the way the French say it.  Anyway, this one is made with a Pear coulis, Caramel parfait, and Vanilla bean ice cream. mmmmmmmm!  Notice my striped jaconde lining the edge :)

"William" Pear coulis, Caramel parfait, and Vanilla ice cream

"Roussillon" with Raspberry coulis, Pistachio parfait, and Apricot sorbet

Then we learned how to work with sugar a bit.  It's so hard! But it was so fun to watch the demonstration.  Notice how translucent and bright green it is when it's first poured onto the mat:

Then he kneads it a bit, and stretches it.

Lots of turning it over onto itself.

And then it's ready to be worked with.  It's placed under a special lamp to keep it at the right consistency.  Notice how the color has changed dramatically--it's kind of pearlescent.

Then it can be shaped or molded like this:

We worked with nougatine again last week and made these cute little pots to put the leftover sorbets in. 

Here's a finished pot with some little leaves made from the sugar.

We also made baskets out of the nougatine!  Isn't it adorable?

Nougatine basket!
There are some macarons in it, garnished with black-currant sorbet.

So that was last week.  Today, I had my Final Exam for my bakery class.  We had 6 hours to make 7 kilos of baguettes, 5 loaves of whole wheat bread, a braided loaf and ring of "pain au lait," 10 croissants, and 9 pain au chocolat.  Here are my final products, waiting to be graded.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chocolates, new shoes, and some very good news

We made chocolates last week!  Lots of yummy flavors.  

Tray of just-made chocolates
Here they are--cut in half to reveal the delicious insides.  Yes, I was eating chocolate in bed, there's nothing wrong with that.

This is the whiskey truffle.  SO creamy and melty and whisky-y inside!

This has hazelnut praline inside and it is SUPER delicious with the candied hazelnut on top to add a lovely little crunch.

This is called the baiser volé (stolen kiss).  The bottom layer is praline, and the top layer is amazing--it is apricot and passion fruit!  It's all covered in dark chocolate afterward, and topped with a candied violet.  But when I eat it, I feel like I'm eating a gourmet peanut butter and jelly--the praline is like the peanut butter and the apricot passion fruit gelatine is like a really flavorful jam.

Also, on the far left in the back, there is a dark chocolate with basil and lemon.  Very nice.  And the foreground of the left side is the palet d'or which is a delicious melding of dark chocolate and coffee, with gold leaf on top.

This is called Hesperide.  It is dark chocolate with apples and salted caramel inside!! So good.


So, last Friday I had an interview with the Four Seasons Hotel George V to see if I can do my 6 month internship there.  I was extremely nervous because it was, of course, entirely in French and I get nervous for interviews even when they're in English.  Anyway, I spent lots of time preparing hypothetical questions and my possible answers, and formulating which questions I wanted to ask.  And then I had to plan what I was going to wear, because this is a palace hotel (well, not this year, but that's another story) and I wanted to look professional, nice, etc.  SO, I bought some nice flats, and came home to see what I could put together and realized that I didn't really have anything so I went wandering around Boulogne until I came across a little boutique.  It really was small, there were only about 6 racks of clothes lining the walls of the narrow interior.  It was just me and the girl at the desk.  I finally picked a dress and asked her if she thought it looked good for an interview (I have no idea about interview protocol here in France).  She was really nice and agreed that the dress was a nice choice, but helped me to pick out several other outfits to try--she knew my size immediately just by looking at me.  It always amazes me when people can do that.  My first instinct won, a classy, professional black dress.  She was impressed by my French, which gave me confidence for my interview the next day.

Friday morning, I walked into the offices for the interview and had to stop by security first.  I got a badge.  I was "VISITEUR E01."  I was led to a waiting room and waited about 20 minutes until my interviewer arrived.  She was very friendly.  She had my resume and cover letter in front of her.  She asked very basic questions like "tell me your story" and "why the George V?" and NONE of the difficult questions that I had prepared to answer, like "how do you work in a team" or "how do you deal with stress" or "what are your strengths and weaknesses?"  Anyway, it was good that I was over-prepared because I slipped my prepared answers into her very vague questions.  She seemed satisfied and took me back into the waiting room.  I was to have a second interview with the sous chef next.  So I waited a while, and then he walked in.  Very young, probably only a couple years older than me.  His interview involved even less of me talking, just the same question "why the George V?" and then, after obviously being satisfied with my answer, began telling me, in rapid-fire parisian French what I could expect if I were to work with them.  It was almost impossible to understand.  There were random French words ambiently floating around in my brain while he was speaking, and then he would pause, and they would come together all at once, like a puzzle, and I would be like ok THAT'S what he said! So I feel like that's a good sign for my French comprehension.  Anyway, he told me that there is a team of 16 in the pastry kitchen, everyone is young.  The head chef is only 28 years old.  He said that everyone gets along very well, they're happy people, and the atmosphere in the kitchen is really great, there's room to breathe.  But he ended his machine-gun speech by nodding approvingly and saying, "vous êtes très souriante" (you are very smiley).  Then I was led back into the familiar waiting room to await yet another person.  However, I was glad to discover that she wasn't there to interview me, she was there to offer me the internship (the last pastry internship space that was left!).  So I got my paperwork, and left.  I'll start my internship at the Four Seasons Hotel George V on August 1st.  I can't wait!!

This past week, we worked on traditional French choux desserts.  The first day we made nougatine.  To do that, you cook sugar until it's a very dark golden and then add sliced almonds.  Then you pour it out onto an iron baking sheet to work it a little bit, then roll it out with a metal rolling pin (so it doesn't stick) and cut out your pieces, but it has to be hot enough to cut or else it breaks.  So there is this whole process of putting it back into the oven to heat up so it can be worked with.  There also is a consequential process of burnt fingers that occurs.  The nougatine shapes we made were to form the base and the crown of the larger piece we made, the very traditional French croque en bouche (literally, crack/crunch in the mouth).
Nougatine base decorated with royal icing

Nougatine crown
 The next day we made pâte à choux (the balls), glazed them with cooked sugar that hardens like candy, and built the structure, sticking them to one another with the cooked sugar.  More burnt fingers.
My Croque en Bouche
 After that, we made another French classic, St. Honoré.  This has a round puff pastry bottom, with pâte à choux spiraled around the middle and lining the edges.

The choux balls are filled with Cointreau cream (because they're hollow inside after baking), and glazed with candied sugar and are placed upside down to harden so it's flat on top.  These are stuck around the edges with cooked sugar.  I think it looks really pretty!

The famous part of the St. Honoré is the piping pattern on top.  There's actually a piping tip named "st. honoré tip" after it.  This one is made with chantilly cream, but we get to make it again later with ice cream!

My St. Honoré, with candied violets on top!

Mmmm remember they're each filled with Cointreau cream!
OH, and since I now know exactly when my internship starts, I bought a ticket to go home for a few weeks this summer!  I can't wait to see family and friends for a little while before I start some intense working.