Aspiring Baker’s this time calls for Desserts on a Plate. In case you’re wondering what that means, it actually has certain conditions adhered to it to BE a plated dessert. If you wish to know more, you can visit the host’s post here. I’m actually clueless myself as to what a plated dessert is. Never even heard of such thing but apparently it’s so common in culinary-patisserie. People go to big competitions with this theme. If you’ve ever been to a decent or a real fancy restaurant and they serve you this plate of dessert that looks so elegant and fantastic with certain designs and effects…that’s usually a plated dessert.
Well, I’m no patisserie chef but I would like to take part in this AB event and it’d be fun to challenge myself. I asked Swee San a lot of questions about whether ‘this‘ can be considered plated dessert or is ‘that‘ eligible etc…but time was really drawing to a close and I had been busy hosting the MFF Sarawak month. But since I already asked so many questions, I still wanted to submit something rather than be seen as just ‘hangat-hangat tahi ayam’- (loosely means; loose enthusiasm quickly). Luckily for me, the deadline was extended.
I did my research and decided on two things; a mille feuille or a sweet vol au vent. Both use about the same ingredients and it’s more the finesse of assembling it together. I must say, it took a few days to get everything ready, not because the components were hard to do. It’s the most basic of all basic dessert making techniques, it’s just that everything needs to be chilled so that takes time. You can totally skip the compote part and use fresh fruits but I thought a compote would make it a bit special. Compotes are just fruit stew-like. You cook the fruits but not all the way down to nothing. You maintain that certain soft shape and texture of the fruits.
Doing this plated dessert clearly revealed my inexperienced hands…haha…if that wasn’t enough, I had the odds of bad weather were stacked against me. Everytime I set out to assemble this dish, the skies would go dark for suspicious rain. I finally decided on the mille feuille because my vol au vent for some reason did not rise up on one side. My first mille feuille looked like roadkill, it was made with round puff pastry. This time, I stuck with symmetry and went for rectangular.
I like it. It’s not perfect I know, but I like it. And at least I can say I made a fancy plated dessert!
Chilled puff pastry sheets
Beaten egg for egg-wash
Strawberry, apple compote;
(inspired by Table for 2…or more’s jam recipe)
200 gms strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 apple, diced (I used Pink Lady)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup water
A pinch of cinnamon powder
(recipe from the book EGGS; Cook’s Kitchen Reference)
300 ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
200 ml whipped cream
2 teaspoons castor sugar
1. Make the custard sauce and whipped cream first so they can be chilled.
2. Whisk together 100 ml of the milk with egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and cornstarch. Heat the rest of the 200 ml milk till warm but not boiling hot.
3. Pour the hot milk into the egg-cornstarch mixture in a slow stream whisking constantly.
4. Pour everything back into the pot and back on a slow heat. Whisk constantly and let it simmer gently till you have a thick, pouring consistency. Take it off the the heat and let it cool before storing in the fridge overnight.
5. To make the whipped cream, half submerge a bowl into a bigger bowl that has icy water. Pour your cream into the smaller bowl with the sugar.
6. Whisk with a hand-whisk (about 10 mins) till you have stiff peaks, you should be able to scoop it up with your whisk. Keep chilled in the fridge overnight.
6. Hull the strawberries and chop into chunks. Peel and core apple. Chop to chunks. Put everything in a pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and turn on the fire to medium low.
7. Cook or simmer till the compote to the right consistency, soft fruits but not mush. You can strain the compote and heat the syrup till it has reduced and thicken a bit more. Personally, I should’ve reduced mine a bit more. Chill everything before using.
8. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Cut cold, puff pastry sheets to 3 same size rectangles.
9. Egg-wash the tops and bake till it’s puffed and browned.
10. Gently, press it down after it has slightly cooled to get that thin layer.
11. Place the first crisp puff pastry on a plate. Pipe some whipped cream along the sides. Scoop some compote into the middle. Pipe a dollop of whipped cream on top.
12. Press on the second layer of puff pastry and repeat process #11.
13. Garnish the top final layer to your liking.
14. Drizzle some of the syrup along the plate and place a small vessel with the pouring custard sauce on the side.
I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #23: Desserts on a plate (September 2012) hosted by Swee San of The Sweet Spot