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Gastronomicom Week 11: Final Chocolate Week

It is with surprise that I write that I am sad that my final week of chocolate has ended. I know, I know–what spirit has possessed me and is forcing me to write that I enjoyed chocolate week, right?

Well, its true. This past chocolate week was filled with not only amazing recipes, but also with amazing teamwork and camaraderie between the students and our Chef.

Structured like entremets/plated desserts week this time—we finished approximately one completed dessert per day which was built using several recipes, ingredients and textures. By now we are capable enough to handle putting several recipes into one dish—we can temper chocolate without having Chef glued to our sides and we are slightly faster at preparing things like our ingredients and completing recipes.

Monday we went back to the techniques from the “snickers” from the last chocolate week,  since it hadn’t gone perfectly last time for most of the students but everyone still enjoyed the flavor and the process. This time our creation had an almond twist, and a reconstructed dough cookie addition on the bottom as a base. It was amazing. The bottom layer was a sanded dough which we chopped up and combined with melted chocolate, almonds and feuillatine, then stacked that layer on top of a almond caramel and a chocolate ganache. All this went into the blast freezer for a bit before being chopped up into logs, frozen again, and then dipped in tempered chocolate.

While this was in the freezer one of the times, we worked on a vanilla caramel—which of course I screwed up even though it seemed like it was going well, because I was working alone and didn’t consider that I needed to make enough for two people even though I was just one person. So my mold was only half full….so yeah. Oops. Sorry Chef.

On Tuesday we started out by making a sugar syrup in order to create something on Wednesday that is still mostly a mystery to me. (We ended up skipping over this recipe because it didn’t really work out, so it remained a mystery to me 😛 If I ever successfully make the magic sugar creation, I will get back to you about it).

We then made a whipped chocolate ganache, chocolate buttons, and people who weren’t finished with things from yesterday finished those.

We always seem to be missing a student—but regardless, I worked alone today, making double so that chef could use my recipes as an example. When we cut the caramels from yesterday, his, of course, were perfect and I cut and wrapped them nicely. However. My caramels were not only lacking in size from only making half of the recipe I needed, I cooked it too long and it was completely hard and not cutable. Chef just laughed at me. I will try again another time. 😛

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Wednesday was perfection.

And it was hilarious.

We were missing four students due to a rather large beach party the night before (and that’s nothing—the morning French class only had one student in attendance!!) But the entire school passed an incredibly successful morning as we were left with all of the most dedicated students. We ended up making a mille feuille of sorts out of a praline crunchy layer and a chocolate tonka ganache layer—stacking them so they made 5 layers in total.

We also made a chocolate covered cereal snack and the most amazing citrus marmalade. I was SO skeptical of the marmalade—though I really should know better by now with my experience with pistachios—because chef added in something called Angelica, which is a dried wild celery root of sorts. It smells incredibly like celery and as we simmered our marmalade the entire room began to smell of it. And I hate celery.

Prepared to give all of my marmalade away at the end of the day, I sampled a bit…And discovered that the marmalade doesn’t taste of celery at all, and rather there is just a slight savory accent that helps elevate all the citrus flavors. I should probably write Chef an apology note…I’m not sure he is aware how much I doubt his flavor combinations sometimes lol.

Thursday continued to be a calm day in pastry—it only took us 10 weeks to get to that point 😛

The day started with us making our chocolate sanded dough, which we put in the fridge while we prepared our chocolate ganache and marshmallow. After that we rolled and baked our dough, blast froze it, added the ganache and topped it with the marshmallow. This was all for a chocolate lemon tart–sort of a reinvention of a typical lemon tart in shape and partially in flavor, though with a more sophisticated feel coming from the use of all the dark chocolate. The tarts were absolutely lovely–incorporating a fantastic balance of flavors, textures and colors.

While in between the steps for the tart, we cut our mille feuille from yesterday and dipped it one side in white chocolate and one side in milk chocolate—then added dots in dark chocolate to make them look like little dominoes. It was a bit hilarious, and to the exasperation of Chef we joked continuously about how we should all take pictures of our chocolate work and use it to promote the school. Lets just say that the piping of the domino markings the the ability to cleanly dip our desserts in two kinds of chocolate was less than perfect.

Friday, surprise surprise, came with a challenge.

Of course it did.

Just when I wasn’t prepared.

Chef gave us some chocolate shells and told us to prepare three recipes and a decoration to fill the cups–and that we had most of the class time to as a team decide on everything and carryout our plans.

The beginning was, a bit understandably, a disaster. With 8 students each having their own ideas and communication styles, it was hard to nail down which flavors, colors, ingredients, and recipes we were going to use–and then we had to decide who would do what and how it would all come together.

Two of the girls worked on an almond sanded dough to add crunch, two girls worked on an orange coulis, two boys tempered chocolate and made decorations, and one of the other boys and I made a whipped ganache flavored with red chili peppers.

I was so skeptical, since none of us seemed to be on the same page or in the same spirits, but in the end we somehow pulled off a unique and interesting dessert that I think did a fairly good job of representing our class and our abilities.

Chef was proud of us and everyone who tried the chocolate enjoyed it, so regardless of how bumpy the class went it was a success in the end.

Only one week to go until the start of my internship! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my last week of desserts at Gastronomicom and then for my transition to Juan les Pins and Hotel Belles Rives. ^_^

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