Page 52 - NA_5_3_2011

Basic HTML Version

50 Pastry & Baking
North America
Sweet Spectrum
typical choices for this approach, with their various flavor profiles re-imagined
in new, complimentary textures: ice cream, soft sponge cakes, and crumbly
cookies. My one caution for this approach is that, by sticking too close to the
original, the desserts often come across as one-dimensional, are too sweet
and sticky, and fail to provide the necessary flavor balance of acidity and
A few years ago, I traveled through France and visited dozens of pastry
and confectionery shops and came back home with a few new favorite sweets,
among them the Provençal candy called Calisson d’Aix. This is a marzipan-
style candy, made from almond paste flavored with melon and citrus, with
a thin glaze of pure white royal icing, and it is instantly recognizable by its
long, thin almond shape. I fell in love with this candy because of its unusual
combination of flavors and its elegant presentation.
Reinterpreting this candy as a dessert was a creative exercise. I built a
base from a typical “pain de genes,” an almond paste sponge cake. I love the
moist texture of this cake, and its soft but firm texture provides a solid base
to build upon. It’s easy to mimic the classic look of the original confection
by selecting from a graduated set of “eye” (football) shape cookie cutters,
and I use a second, larger cutter to prepare a template for making a thin
cookie from the whipped royal icing. The baked icing cookie provides a
delicate sweet crunch to the dessert and mimics the textural crunch of a
crème brûlée. I’ve flavored this one with some dehydrated citrus zest.
The melon parfait is interesting, because it presented a particular challenge
to create. Most frozen fruit mousses start with fruit puree, but melon puree
is too watery and yields an icy finished product. Reducing melon puree on
the stove thickens the texture but results in an unappealing “squashy”
flavor. To solve this problem, I reached for the dehydrator, slowly drying
slices of ripe melon until they were about 66% of their original weight. The
resulting puree had great texture and a bright melon flavor. This technique
works well with other moist fruits (berries, for instance) when you want to
firm up the puree without getting a “cooked” or “jammy” flavor.
So here we have the flavors of the original, presented in a new way but
respecting the look and appeal of the original. On its own, however, like
most “candy bar” inspirations, it lacks the needed punch to be a memorable
dessert. To develop its potential required something bitter to balance the
sweetness and something lean to balance the richness of the parfait. I found
both in a cleansing sorbet flavored with quinine, the recognizable ingredient
that flavors tonic water – it’s refreshing, summery, and unusual, and adds a
real quality of intrigue to the finished dessert.
Getting Creative with
Sweet Candy Favorites
Photography by Kristen Loken
By Stephen L. Durfee
Cutting board
Kitchen mixer
Hemisphere molds
Paint spray gun
Ice cream machine or paco jet
-sheet pan
Set of “football”– shaped cutters
Mini melon baller
Publisher’s Note:
Stephen L. Durfee, CEPC is
a pastry instructor at The Culinary Institute of
America (CIA) at Greystone in St. Helena, CA,
where he teaches Plated Desserts and Chocolate
Confectionery courses to students pursuing their
associate degrees in baking and pastry arts as they
experience the abundance of the world-renowned
Napa Valley. Before he joined the CIA faculty, he
was pastry chef atThe French Laundry inYountville,
CA. In 1998, he won the James Beard Award for
“Outstanding Pastry Chef.” Here he recounts his
experience with reinterpreting a candy favorite
into a creative recipe and – even better! – shares
that recipe.
astry chefs are frequently looking to recreate the flavor combinations
of their favorite candy bars and turn them into plated desserts.
Peanut butter cups, Snickers, and Almond Joy come to mind as