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Michael Laiskonis

Wed, 05/14/2008 - 15:31
Submitted by admin_rg
Michael Laiskonis
Le Bernardin New York

Tuesday, September 16 2:00PM—3:10PM

A Modern Petits-Fours Primer: Classic Flavors, New Techniques Pastry Workshop

Biography

Michael Laiskonis excels in revitalizing classic desserts by experimenting with contrasting textures, temperatures, and unexpected ingredients. As executive pastry chef at New York’s 4-star Le Bernardin, he is known for exquisite desserts that balance of art and science. New York Times critic Frank Bruni says it well, calling Laiskonis’ desserts “sophisticated without being pretentious, multifaceted but not unduly fanciful.”

A native of Michigan, Laiskonis trained in the visual arts at Wayne State University and started baking (while in college, and without a formal culinary degree) at a friend’s bakery. While there, he logged 16 hour days turning out all their breads, cakes, pastries, and savories. Initially fascinated by the science of bread, Laiskonis immersed himself in learning everything he could about baking and pastry. He recognized the architectural nature of dessert and its foundation in flavor and form, and realized he’d found a way to unite his passions for art and science.

After two years, he was appointed pastry chef and sous chef under Rick Halberg at Emily’s in Northville, MI. In 1997 he joined Tribute restaurant, starting as a line cook before assuming the role of pastry chef. Influenced by this experience in both culinary realms, Laiskonis’ current approach to dessert often combines tastes that are both savory and sweet.

At Le Bernardin, where he has worked since 2004, 34-year-old Laiskonis has found the perfect venue for his creative, elegant confections. In addition to his restaurant work, Laiskonis acts as a consultant and participates in numerous events – he has acted as the moderator of the pastry forum at eGullet.com and has participated as a challenger on Food Network’s first season of Iron Chef America. In 2006, Laiskonis was invited to create a special line of desserts for Hankyu department store in Osaka, Japan, and worked closely with the National Peanut Board developing dessert ideas using health conscious techniques and ingredients.

In addition to being named a Rising Star by StarChefs.com in 2006, Laiskonis is the recipient of Bon Appétit magazine’s 2004 American Food & Entertaining Award and was twice named one of the “10 Best Pastry Chefs in America” (2002, 2003) by Pastry Art and Design. In 2005, he contributed to Le Bernardin’s four-star review by Frank Bruni in The New York Times, and in 2007 received the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award.

Recipe

Inventive Petit Fours: Chocolate-Peanut, Chocolate-Corn, Chocolate-Menthol
Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin – New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 48 pieces

Ingredients

Chocolate-Peanut:
• 250 grams peanut butter
• 25 grams roasted peanut oil
• 50 to 75 grams N-Zorbit tapioca maltodextrin
• 75% dark chocolate couverture, tempered

Chocolate-Corn:
• 300 grams 70% dark chocolate couverture, chopped
• 20 grams unsalted butter
• 500 grams heavy cream
• 375 grams granulated sugar
• 350 grams glucose syrup
• 50 grams trimoline
• 80 grams freeze-dried corn, finely ground
• 20 grams all-purpose flour
• 20 grams confectioner’s sugar
• Pinch of fine sea salt
• 70 grams skim milk
• 80 grams egg whites
• Dark chocolate couverture, melted
• Freeze dried corn, finely ground
• Piment d'espelette

Chocolate-Menthol:
• 8 grams (4 sheets) gelatin
• 40 grams water
• 2 grams agar agar
• 0.6 gram menthol crystals
• 75 grams sugar
• 400 grams water
• 200 grams 63% dark chocolate couverture, tempered
• Chocolate sauce
• Micro mint

Method

For the Chocolate-Peanut:
Put peanut butter and peanut oil in bowl of a food processor. Slowly add maltodextrin, pulsing until mixture resembles a light powder. Prepare 2 24-cavity polycarbonate dome molds and pour dark chocolate into mold, completely filling each cavity, tapping to release any air bubbles. Invert mold and pour out excess, tapping again, to ensure a thin coating. Keep mold inverted and allow to set, scraping off any excess. Once set, refrigerate for 10 minutes and invert mold, gently tapping, if necessary, to release finished chocolate forms. To serve, fill each piece with a spoonful of the peanut butter powder.

For the Chocolate-Corn:
Put chocolate and butter in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a large saucepan, combine cream, sugar, glucose, and trimoline; bring to 121°C/249°F. Meanwhile, prepare a quarter sheet pan with non-stick spray. When correct temperature is attained, pour cooked sugar mixture over chocolate and butter. Quickly stir to combine, ensuring there are no lumps of un-melted chocolate. Immediately pour into prepared pan; allow to set 8 hours (or overnight). Preheat oven to 122°C/250°F. Put dry ingredients in mixing bowl and slowly incorporate skim milk, followed by egg white. Apply to a Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake until dry and just lightly browned. To server, use a sharp knife to cut chocolate into 5x4 millimeter rectangles. Place some of the melted chocolate into a cornet and place a small amount along one side of chocolate rectangle, affixing a corn tuile. Garnish each piece with a spoonful of ground freeze-dried corn and a pinch of piment d'espelette.

For the Chocolate-Menthol:
Bloom gelatin in 40 grams water. Put 400 grams water in a pot, mix together agar agar, menthol, and sugar, and disperse into pot of water. Gently bring to a boil; reduce heat while maintaining a simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in bloomed gelatin. Allow to cool slightly for a few moments, and then transfer to a plastic-lined 6x12 centimeter form. Chill and allow to set. Meanwhile, place one sheet of acetate on a smooth and level work surface. Pour chocolate couverture onto acetate and spread into a thin, even layer, covering entire sheet. Allow chocolate to slowly set just until it no longer appears “wet” or “tacky”. Working quickly to avoid chocolate setting too hard, mark 15 millimeter increments along the length of chocolate sheet, and 20 millimeter increments along the shorter sides. Use a ruler to connect these marks; gently cut rectangle shapes into chocolate using a small knife, applying just enough pressure to cut through chocolate, but not through acetate. Once all rectangles are cut (there will be many more than needed for the recipe to allow for any breakage) place a second sheet of acetate on top of chocolate, and place an even sheet pan on top (applying this light pressure prevents the chocolate sheet from curling, as tempered chocolate naturally contracts as continues to set). Once set, cut menthol gelée into 10x15 millimeter rectangles. Place one rectangle of gelée onto each square of chocolate and garnish with a drop of chocolate sauce and micro mint.

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