Pastry Wrap-up

Pastry Wrap-up

Day 1: Rethinking Chocolate, and the Joy of Bitters

Bitters Sweet: Cocktail Culture Invades Pastry
Pastry Chef Plinio Sandalio of Carillon – Austin, TX
Bitters Sweet:  Cocktail Culture Invades Pastry
Bitters Sweet: Cocktail Culture Invades Pastry

Rising Star Pastry Chef Plinio Sandalio’s “be liberal” approach to adding bitters and spirits to desserts left attendees eager (thirsty?) to try his sweet concoctions. Sandalio started the session by making a Chilean pisco sour (with the usual suspects of citrus juice, simple syrup, and egg whites), whipping the cocktail into a dessert foam. Next, he combined the bitter, adult-acquired taste for amaro with childhood-favorite pop rocks. For his Campari pop rocks, Sandalio created a Campari brittle and pulsed it in a food processor with unflavored pop rocks. The final tasting of the day was a grapefruit sorbet and a grapefruit custard spiked with Angostura bitters. Sandalio said pastry chefs with small kitchens can make the latter in the microwave; they can also keep their newest flavor weapons stored—temporarily at least—behind the bar.

Chocolate Innovations
Pastry Chef Francisco Migoya of the Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park, NY
Chocolate Innovations
Chocolate Innovations

What is culinary innovation? It may be a flashy ingredient or swanky plating designed to catch the eye of new customers, but according to Pastry Chef Francisco Migoya, former pastry chef of The French Laundry and current instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, innovation doesn’t always need to be about shock value. Migoya presented a number of novel ideas for presentation and flavor of the chocolate bar to an afternoon pastry workshop, showing off his tempering and detail skills, including techniques for intricate appliqués, layering chocolate textures, and highlighting new shapes as a “chocolate bar.” From demonstrating his almond croquant-filled chocolate ring and saffron-infused cocoa butter to forcing cinnamon aroma into a chocolate bar, Migoya showed how chocolate can be brought to the forefront.

Day 2: Three Ingredients Reconsidered: Sugar, Croissant Dough, and Marshmallows

Naturally, No Sugar Added
Chef Josean Alija of Nerua – Bilbao, Spain
Naturally, No Sugar  Added
Naturally, No Sugar Added

Dessert at Nerua is deceptively simple. It acts as a sweet reward at the end of a meal and refreshes the palate, just like it’s supposed to. And it is simple in composition, with only a handful of ingredients at play. But according to Chef Josean Alija, actually getting the dessert onto the plate is only simple “once they show you how.” For those looking to emulate Alija’s methods, a little ultra-modern technique doesn’t hurt. Immersion circulators, the Gastrovac, liquid nitrogen, and syringes are all part of the routine in his kitchen. Perhaps most pivotal, his work with cancer patients since 2004 has led him to employ a lot of kitchen gadgetry in pursuit of healthful eating without sacrificing flavor or appeal. In the last sweet bite of a meal at Nerua, Alija wants to provoke joy and surprise, even nostalgia (what he calls “retrogusto”). So Alija scrapped the Carlota, a towering cone of spun sugar and pure fatty creaminess traditional in the Basque country in favor of desserts like Poached Pear with Cheese Serum and Elderflower, a dish that recreates the flavors of a cheese board but in a creative, healthful, delicious, and very Basque way.

Pâte Perfection: Traditional Laminated Dough
Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery – New York, NY
Pâte Perfection:  Traditional Laminated Dough
Pâte Perfection: Traditional Laminated Dough

In his Monday afternoon pastry workshop, French-born Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel shared the secret of a childhood favorite treat, kouig aman. The pastry, a classic afternoon treat from Brittany, is similar in technique to a croissant dough, but as Ansel pointed out, this is no easy baked good. Ansel starts with a very elastic dough, simply created with salt, water, flour, and yeast. He then chills the dough and butter into blocks—just like in croissant or puff pastry work—and proceeds with four continuous single folds. “We don’t let it rest in between, you do it all at once, so it doesn’t proof in between,” he said. After finishing his folds, Ansel cuts the dough into squares, folds the corners into themselves a number of times, and then bakes the kouig aman on a sugared sheet tray in ring molds. Addictive and completely worth the extra effort (for best results the dough must be made daily and should not be frozen). The result: a light, airy, caramelized, puffed dough.

Modernizing the Marshmallow
Pastry Chef Shawn Gawle of Saison – San Francisco, CA
Modernizing the  Marshmallow
Modernizing the Marshmallow

Following suit with the ICC theme showcasing traditional flavors in new and interesting ways, Shawn Gawle put his spin on the marshmallow in an afternoon pastry workshop on Monday. Gawle demonstrated three techniques, taking the classic marshmallow to a whole new level. The first involved creating a “frozen marshmallow.” First he makes a marshmallow-sorbet base, which he flavored with PreGel's green apple Fortefrutto and spun to create a frozen, fluffy treat. The second technique involved a blood orange marshmallow, which he piped around a small carrot cake and then topped with carrot and orange bubbles. Gawle created the bubbles by submerging a simple aquarium oxygen pump with a diffuser attached into the carrot and orange juices. Lastly he showed off a play on s’mores, piping marshmallow into liquid nitrogen, then torching it and fitting it on top of a small graham cracker, coffee, and chocolate entremet.

Day 3: The Changing World of the Pastry Chef

Taste, Memory, and Avant-garde Composition
Pastry Chef Angela Pinkerton of Eleven Madison Park – New York, NY
Taste, Memory, and Avant-garde Composition
Taste, Memory, and Avant-garde Composition

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: what do beer and pretzels have in common. The answer was as delicious as it was innovative. During Angela Pinkerton’s workshop, the pastry chef made the case that the malt in both create a natural symmetry on the plate, which she deftly displayed via malt sorbet, pretzel tuile, pretzel dust, and malt yogurt. “The most successful dishes bring back childhood memories,” she told the attendees, who made their own tuiles and helped Pinkerton plate. The final dish was what Pinkerton called “unstructured structure,” with shattered tuile, pretzel dust, malt yogurt, peanut brittle, and the sorbet creating a mixture of textures and shapes on the plate.

Not Just Desserts: The State of the Pastry Industry
Antoinette Bruno of StarChefs.com – New York, NY
Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini of Sugar Fueled Inc. – New York, NY
Pastry Chef Jordan Kahn of Red Medicine – Los Angeles, CA
Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis of Institute of Culinary Education – New York, NY
Pastry Chef Sam Mason of Empire Mayonnaise Co. – New York, NY
Pastry Chef Alex Stupak of Empellón Cocina – New York, NY
Not Just Desserts:  The State of the Pastry Industry
Not Just Desserts: The State of the Pastry Industry

As many of the nation’s top pastry chefs leave their posts, ICC demanded a discussion on the future of the sweet kitchen. And these leaders—Johnny Iuzzini,