July 31, 2011
The Cherries, Berries, and Plums (oh my!) Dessert Sandwich
This is a very special episode of the Aubergine Chef and I’m really excited to be sharing it with all of you. Just like the Dessert Sushi, this is an original recipe but instead of developing it for a school project this recipe has been entered into the Mezzetta sandwich contest! I had a lot of fun creating this dessert and I wish I could share it with all of you as a finished product. The taste is really unique and just one bite will change your concept of dessert! Hm, that sounds a little odd. It’s not a magic sandwich (unless I win, then it is) but rather it brings together techniques and flavors more commonly seen in savory dishes.
The dessert sandwich is actually three separate components. The first component is the plum sauce ice cream made with the Kona Coast brand of plum sauce. Plum sauce, for those of you who don’t know, is a tangy dipping sauce that kind of tastes like a sweet and sour barbecue sauce. I know it may sound strange but just trust me when I say it works. I enhance the exotic flavor of the plum sauce by adding a pinch of lavender. The recipe is very similar to the Saffron Ice Cream because they are both French style ice creams. Recall that French style ice creams are made with a cooked egg base – basically a creme anglais base.
The second component is macerated berry reduction sauce. A very strict definition of
macerating is berries that have been lightly coated in sugar. The sugar draws out the water in the berries and creates a syrup. I’m taking a little bit of a liberty in this dessert because instead of just using sugar, I actually make a complete marinating liquid. I combined Viognier wine along with the Kona Coast Orange Teriyaki sauce. Viognier wine is said to go well with teriyaki sauce, and in my experiments and I found it to be true. To the wine and sauce I added sugar as well as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and grapes. The citrus flavor in the teriyaki sauce helps bring out the flavors of the fruits while the teriyaki sauce gives them a warm, caramel, soy-sauce-like tang. It’s a really unique flavor! To be honest during my tests I was apprehensive that it would actually taste good but I’m a total believer now. What’s great about the macerating liquid is that after the berries have soaked for at least 1 days you have a great sangria. The sangria can then be incorporated into the dessert as a reduction sauce by boiling the liquid on the stove until it reaches 220-230 degrees F. The boiling helps concentrate the flavors and it develops an almost fruit and caramel-like flavor. Plus the reduced sauce is thicker and looks great for plating.
The final component is a maraschino cherry pound cake made with Mezzetta maraschino cherries. The pound cake recipe is one we used from school to make wedding cakes and was slightly altered to accommodate for the maraschino cherries. Some bakers find that when adding pieces of fruit (or anything solid like chocolate chips or nuts) to a cake recipe that the pieces sink to the bottom of the pan instead of being dispersed evenly throughout. One way to help prevent this is by tossing your solid additive in a little bit of flour and fold them in carefully. The dry flour stuck to your solid acts like brakes on a car and holds them in place. I’ve found greater success by making a paste out of some of the dry ingredients and some of the liquid ingredients. In this case because the finely chopped cherries were so juicy all I had to do was add about 2 ounces of the dry ingredients to them and mix to make the paste. I added the paste at the end of the recipe. After the cake was baked the pieces of cherry stayed in place.
In addition to the cherry flavored pound cake I also grilled slices of pound cake on a grill-like griddle with a little bit of Mezzetta’s extra virgin olive oil. This unique way of preparing pound cake helps give the pound cake a more complex flavor. You’re not really toasting the pound cake but rather just grilling it until the lines form. The lines add a blackened and caramelized flavor to the slice of cake and help add to the illusion of a real sandwich. The olive oil also contributes to the developing color as well as adds a mild nutty flavor which marries well with the cherry flavor.
After that it was just a simple matter of plating the sandwich up. On the plate I poured a few ounces of the reduction sauce then on top of that I placed a slice of the grilled pound cake. On top of the slice of pound cake I added two scoops of the ice cream along with about 1 cup of the macerated berries. I also sprinkled some chiffonade mint throughout the plate including on top of the ice cream and berries.
Chiffonade (pronounced shif-uh-nod) is a culinary technique that involves the preparation
of fresh herbs. The leaves are rolled up tight, like a cinnamon roll, and then thinly sliced with a very sharp knife. The result is thin strips of mint. While many people feel that whole mint leaves and mint sprigs contribute a beautiful freshness to desserts many chefs have found that mint leaves have become very overused and cliche. Pastry chefs still appreciate the mint’s light flavor which helps lighten heavy desserts and cuts through fatty desserts as well as its beautiful and natural green color. In order to use mint leaves without being trite pastry chefs use chiffonade mint. One great benefit of using chiffonade mint is that the mint actually gets eaten. Many people pluck the mint leaves off their dessert dismissing it as a garnish much like parsley – even if the pastry chef intended for them to be eaten. When mint is sprinkled throughout the plate people are more likely to eat it since it’s difficult to pick out and because it looks like it belongs in the dessert as opposed to looking like an afterthought.
Anyway, after sprinkling the mint the last slice of pound cake is placed on top and viola
you’ve got yourself one fancy plated dessert sandwich. I particularly love the uniqueness of this plated dessert and how it looks so similar to a real deli sandwich. One interesting thing about this dessert is that while the individual components taste okay when combined all together in one bite the bursts of flavors marry brilliantly together. In addition I was able to incorporate several points of plated desserts by using lots of color, unique flavors, and contrasts in shapes and temperatures (cold ice cream, warm grilled pound cake, warm reduction sauce). For the traditionalists out there the plated dessert may seem like it’s missing a significant crunch component but the grilled parts of the pound cake are nice and crisp as well as the grapes mixed in with the berries.
I hope I’ve inspired you to think outside the box when it comes to flavors and dessert. One of the reasons I used so many savory flavors is that one of the requirements of the contest was to use Mezzetta or Kona Coast products. I almost didn’t try when I found that they don’t really make dessert oriented ingredients but then I thought I could use that to my advantage. Since flavor and plated desserts were some of my specialties from college I could think of a unique way to bring the savory flavors into the dessert. In addition, my sandwich would stand out from the crowd as most entrants will make savory sandwiches.
At this point all I can really do is hope that I win. Despite all the practicing, experimenting, and encouragement from friends it’s never a sure thing but I’m just happy that I gave it my all. What do you all think? Have I inspired you to look at ingredients and flavors differently? Do you think I have a shot at winning?
Here is the complete recipe for the Cherries, Berries, and Plum (oh my!) Dessert Sandwich which includes the Plum Sauce ice cream, the Macerated Berry Reduction Sauce, and the Maraschino Cherry pound cake as well as instructions for plating the sandwich up. If you’d rather have the individual recipes each name is linked to their respective recipe. Thank you for all your support this past year and I hope you all wish me luck! Below is the video – enjoy!