Monday, May 14, 2007

Mocha anyone?

The past week has been extremely busy for me. Mother's Day Brunch was massive; the preparation on Sunday morning was controlled mayhem as the whole team assembled all the last minute items for the buffet. The highlight of the event for me was making two croquembouches by myself, one of which was at least 2 feet tall (without using a mold), and placing them onto the buffet table. I was able to admire my perfectly conical croquembouche there for 3 seconds before a guest began to rip it apart while I internally gasped in shock at its destruction.

Meanwhile, my plated dessert assignment required a considerable amount of preparation during the week and ultimately, my three creations were well received overall. The common theme to all three desserts was a mocha mousse which I used in three different ways. Chef Ted gave enormously constructive feedback with which I totally agreed. For example, in my first dessert, the mocha mousse in the espresso cup was too firm and required a different element for contrast within the cup. The cassis pâte de fruit "sugar cubes" were cut too large but my Bailey's sauce Anglaise was lovely.

My second dessert, a Concorde, was my favorite. The mocha mousse was sandwiched between layers of cocoa meringue along with a thin layer of raspberry gelée. It was accompanied by a pistachio sabayon, fresh raspberries and accented with my signature dragonfly tuile (which has made several appearances previously at school). For an even better plate, the dragonfly should have been tilted forward so it could be viewed fully from the front and placing fewer raspberries in an alternate position would have allowed the sabayon design to be visible.

My third dessert was fraught with mistakes in presentation although the flavour combinations were delicious. The mocha mousse domes were glorious before they were put on the plate, filled with an amaretto crème brûlée, crumbled nougatine, on an apricot financier base, glazed with dark chocolate ganache and a hit of copper metallic powder. Unfortunately, when I plated it, the edges were messy so I tried to hide it with flaked almonds which cheapened the look of the plate. The caramel sauce which I made in advance became too thick and dribbled unpredictably off my spoon into an unattractive blob; however the apricot sorbet was deliciously refreshing.

I recognize now that having a creative outlet is a key component to my professional happiness. The challenge will be to find employment in the local pastry industry where a happy medium balances productivity with creativity. My fear is that this does not exist, at least for an entry-level position where the focus would be on producing what you are told to produce without a hint of creative freedom. But enough of fear...simply enjoying this time to experiment and learn should be my focus!


Kimberley said...

Beautiful work, Charmaine! You definitely have talent in the pastry kitchen. Things will fall into place for you. Sooner than later I'm sure I'll see "Charmaine's Pastry Shop" somewhere here in Vancouver.

Turtlekeeper Designs said...

Yummy...I love Mocha! I especially liked the Mocha Mousse Domes with their copper metallic powder...and Bailey's sauce Anglaise has me salivating!