Friday, September 21, 2007

Artisan Cheese and Caramel Tasting Platter

Let me start this post by saying that I am extremely fond of cheese. If I hadn't become a chocolatier, I sometimes wonder if I would have eventually opened a creamery instead. Well... maybe not, but I would have spent a lot of time loitering around one?

This post details a passion of mine that began three years ago, back in the infancy of Eclipse. My first Xmas, I had a client who wanted me to come to her holiday party and do a fancy-schmancy dessert presentation for her guests. At the time, I had recently developed a new caramel sauce and I hit upon the idea of serving it with fruit and artisan cheeses. Thus the Artisan Cheese and Caramel Platter was born! Its changed over time as I have discovered new caramel and cheese pairings, but the essentials are the same. In short, its gooey, creamy, tangy, and very satisfying. Here are the elements (and there and many!):

Chile-burnt Caramel Sauce- Slightly spicy, with a poignant smoky note. Served warm.
Candied mango slices- Sweet and chewy, perfect foil to the caramel's heat.
Sugared torta- From Andulacia, an olive oil crisp bread topped with coarse sugar, anise, sesame, and fennel pollen.
But most important (!), four lovely artisan cheeses, from left to right:
Lemon Stilton- From Leicestershire. Tangy and crumbly, studded with candied lemon zest.
Our own house-made Cacao Chevre- Fresh goat cheese flecked with lavender, rolled in cocoa nibs.
Bucherondin- French. Sharp and tangy, with an aged rind that has a rich finish.
Drunken Goat- Spanish. Dense with overtones of berries that come from a Cabernet-drenched rind.

Its fun, interactive, and more than enough food fit for two. What more can you ask for?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cranberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

I have to admit, the last post, Frozen Gianduja Petit Four, was shockingly delicious. But when has toasted hazelnuts and milk chocolate ever led someone astray? That's a brand new recipe for me, so its exciting so see it hit the mark so closely so early on in development. This next one, however, is an old standard of mine that I know will always please the crowds.

Cranberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise seems to be the antithesis of a stressful day. Custard-soaked challah-bread pudding, studded with sweet white chocolate bits and tart cranberries, served warm.... then topped with chilled vanilla-bean creme anglaise sauce. Crazy, no? Its quite a complicated description, but trust me when I say that its smooth and relaxing, with no complications. Just the perfect thing to wind down with after a long day.