dessert

An Extraordinary Dessert Experience

by Anne Maxfield on May 29, 2017

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House First DessertDessert, the grand finale of the Chef’s Table at Mohonk Mountain House is truly spectacular and at some point in your life, you deserve it.

After polishing off ten amazing savory courses, including a cheese course with “carbonated” grapes—yup, they distract you by making a preview dessert–little ice cream magic with homemade mini ice cream cones and liquid nitrogen, which essentially turns anything creamy into ice cream in a flash.

While you’re enjoying the cones, two giant strips of matting cover the table. The head pastry chef, Audrey Billups starts the dessert by coming along with a glass full of chocolate sauce which she artistically blobs and smears the length of the surface

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House Dessert BeginningBehind her, another chef with a vial of mango puree, dashing and dribbling alongside the chocolate.

They repeat this, building the dessert by adding crème fraiche, pistachio cream, bits of frozen raspberries, and squares of Amaretto jelly.

Over that are dustings of brown butter crumbs, oatmeal crumble, cocoa, the thinnest sheets of blueberry,  and and and…

When it’s decided that the table is properly decorated (or more likely they’ve run out of space), meringues, gilded and filled with white chocolate and strawberries are placed in front of each diner.

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House Dessert DesignedThat’s followed by a small hockey puck of dark chocolate cake and just when you think they’ve run out of stuff – a blob of frozen chocolate mousse is plopped down and smashed, sending the shards through all the different flavors.

The idea of this dessert extravaganza is to do exactly what your mother told you never to do—play with your food!

Smear the chocolate cake through the mango and chocolate purees and hope to pick up a bit of frozen raspberry on the journey.

Try sticking the meringue with some of the blueberry paper and hmm, maybe the crème fraiche.

Or, what turned out to be my favorite, the brown butter crumbs on almost anything, but especially the frozen chocolate mousse fragments and the chocolate sauce.

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House Dessert DesignedThere’s no one, even in my group of chefs, who isn’t smiling.

And, even after the ten or so previous courses, there’s no one who didn’t clean their place.

Okay, so we do still listen to our mothers.

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Caramelized Peaches

by Anne Maxfield on June 30, 2016

Accidental Locavore Caramelized PeachesCaramelized peaches became one of those recipes that I’ve used a lot in the past and then somehow got lost in the shuffle.

Which is a shame because they’re so good!

Sometimes it’s a combo of the thrill of the new along with some old favorites that push the good-but-not-part-of-the-repertoire aside. This is one of them and serves 4:

Caramelized Peaches

  • 4 large peaches, unpeeled
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • Water as needed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Cut the peaches in half and pit them, set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, add sugar, corn syrup and just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Cook until sugar caramelizes and becomes a deep amber color. Keep an eye on it as it can go from good to burnt in an instant.

Add the chilled butter, a few small pieces at a time, whisking constantly until all the butter is emulsified into the caramel.

Place the peaches, cut side down, in one layer in the pot with the caramel. Cover pot with foil and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes. Serve with your favorite ice cream and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Peaches in CaramelMy verdict: I’d forgotten how good this was! As much as the Accidental Locavore loves biting into a perfect peach, there’s something about cooking them that’s equally wonderful.

While this is a great go-to recipe for less-than-perfect peaches, it works even better with ripe ones, and if you can get freestone peaches, it’s a huge help.

I did this as my version of peach shortcake with buttermilk biscuits and vanilla ice cream (homemade) but you really don’t need the biscuits, it’s wonderful just with ice cream.

I have an idea about putting the pot on the side of a hot grill instead of in the oven…for that touch of smoke and so I’m not heating up the kitchen, but haven’t tried it yet. What do you think?

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Have You Ever Had a Restaurant Experience Go Bananas?

by Anne Maxfield on June 20, 2016

 

What could be funny about having a banana for dessert? Read on – it’s probably not what you think.

A long time ago, we’d been traveling through Europe shopping and eating (for work, believe it or not). At that time, the food in London was pretty unexceptional so it was more of a detox place after binging in Milan and Paris.

Late and hungry, we hit the hotel restaurant for what we hoped would be a casual dinner.

No such luck.

White linen tablecloths, silver domes choreographed to reveal carefully prepared dishes – you know the drill. At the end of the meal, the Accidental Locavore just wanted a little something sweet – maybe a piece of fruit, maybe a banana because being American, it could just be picked up, peeled and eaten.

Wrong!

The banana came on a linen-draped mahogany serving cart, under yet another silver dome.

“How would Madame like her banana served?”

Huh?

“Just peel it and I’ll eat it.”

Accidental Locavore Banana on TrayThe waiter carefully started to perform delicate surgery to remove the peel. After a few struggles with a recalcitrant victim he declared it uncooperative and left to find a better victim.

Finally, he liberated it from its skin.

“How would Madame like her banana sliced?”

Seriously?

“Slice it into coins”

“How thick?”

“About the size of a quarter (forgetting for a moment where I was)”.

After being sliced to order and artfully arranged on a plate, I was delighted at the prospect of finally getting my damn banana – not to be.

“What sauce would Madame like with her banana?”

“Sauce?”

“Yes, Chef has prepared two sauces for Madame.”

Not wishing to disappoint the chef and realizing it was just easier to play along, I chose both sauces.

Sadly, I couldn’t tell you what they were, maybe a chocolate sauce and something fruity, because by this time my dinner partner and I were choking, trying so hard not to laugh! We both knew that if either of us started to laugh we were never going to stop!

Instead, I finished my banana, signed the bill and we ran out of the restaurant barely making it to the elevator where we were doubled over with laughter all the way to our rooms!

 

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse

by Anne Maxfield on May 19, 2016

Accidental Locavore Salted Carmel Chocolate MousseThese were the criteria: I needed a dessert for a dinner party, it needed to travel well and since the hostess is another foodie, the dessert needed to be pretty damn good. After spending a lot of time with Made in India, the Accidental Locavore decided to go back to another favorite, David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Since he’s such a dessert guy, he had to have something that would impress 6 people:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel or Malden

Accidental Locavore Mousse PrepSpread the sugar evenly over the bottom of a wide sauce pan. Heat the sugar over medium heat. As it begins to liquefy at the edges, with a heatproof spatula (thank you, GIR), very gently drag the liquefied sugar towards the center. Watch carefully as once the edges start to darken, the sugar is in danger of burning. Continue to cook, stirring gently until all the sugar is melted and begins to caramelize.

When the sugar is a deep amber color and starts to smoke, remove it from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter, stirring until it is melted. Gradually whisk in the cream and stir until the little bits of caramel are completely melted. I find it helps to warm the cream before you add it in.

Accidental Locavore Caramel for MousseOnce smooth, add the chocolate, stirring gently until it’s melted and smooth. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Once it’s no longer warm, whisk in the egg yolks.

In a separate large bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold 1/3 of the mixture into the chocolate and sprinkle in the salt. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until no streaks of white remain.

Divide the mousse into serving glasses or a serving bowl and chill for at least 8 hours. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Who knew 6 ingredients could be so delicious? I had eaten these before when David was cooking at DeGustibus, but somehow (sorry David) these tasted better. Somewhere in the process, it occurred to me that they needed a little something crunchy (probably too much time spent in Nice eating chocolate desserts) so I made some tuiles to go with them and it was the perfect touch. That recipe will go up next week, so stay tuned. Be careful making the (any) caramel, it’s a mere moment in time between beautiful and burnt. Gently warming the cream makes it much easier as the caramel doesn’t harden and take forever to combine with the cream.

And the reaction at the dinner? One of the guests asked if he could lick his dish!

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