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Diamond Chai Bar by Chef Jimmy MacMillian of Avenues in Chicago, IL
Uni Foam Technique

Diamond Chai Bar Technique
Chef Jimmy MacMillian of Avenues – Chicago, IL
June 2009

As a former musician and painter, MacMillan applies his passion and aptitude for artistry to the concept of high pastry in each of his desserts. In his Flavors of Chai dish, he fits a bar of chocolate chai gelato inside of a perfectly formed diamond of vanilla gelato—a technique so surprisingly basic MacMillan says he gets a kick out of hearing, “How did they get that inside the diamond,” every time.

This geometric puzzler begins with the formation of MacMillan’s chai bars. Ahead of time he lines a small terrine mold with plastic wrap. To make the bars, he first prepares the chocolate chai and vanilla gelato mixes. Once prepared the mixtures are processed in a batch freezer then placed into piping bags. He makes a cut in the bottom of the milk chocolate gelato bag and pipes dollops across the bottom of the mold with an inch separation between them. MacMillan stresses the asthetic importance of making sure that the dollops are not symmetrical and not uniform. Vanilla gelato is then piped into the negative space using the same method as the chai gelato, filling in the first layer of the terrine. MacMillian repeats this pattern of piping, ensuring that the top and bottom layers also remain asymmetrical (for instance, vanilla can not be directly on top of another vanilla), until the top of the terrine is reached. Once the terrine is filled, he freezes the mold.

After freezing, MacMillan unmolds the terrine and slices ¾ inches thick. “For a nice clean pattern, slice and wipe the knife,” says MacMillian. Then, using a diamond cutter he punches out a diamond shape in each slice, and that is the way the two geometries are imposed.

Step 1: Combine ingredients for Chocolate Chai Gelato.
Step 2: Process in batch freezer
Step 3: Place in piping bags immediately
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 for Vanilla Gelato
Step 5:  Line terrine mold with plastic wrap.
Step 6: Pipe the chai gelato in dollops and cover with the vanilla gelato
Step 7: Repeat until the top of the terrine is reached
Step 8: Wrap and freeze
Step 9: Remove the Chai bars from the freezer
Step 10: Cut ¾ inch slices
Step 11: Punch slices with a diamond cutter

Flavors of Chai: Kumquat, Milk Chocolate, Bergamot
Pastry Chef Jimmy MacMillan of Avenues – Chicago, IL
Adapted by
June 2009


Candied Kumquat Jam: (Makes 3 cups)
1000 grams water
500 grams sugar
1500 grams kumquats; sliced and seeded

Milk Chocolate Chai Gelato: (Makes 3 bars)
1036 grams milk (steeped with 20g chai tea)
44 grams milk powder
136 grams sugar
71 grams glucose, atomized
14 grams stabilizer
250 grams 35% cream
270 grams Chocovic Nayarit Milk chocolate

Vanilla Gelato:(Makes 3 bars)
975 grams whole milk
60 grams milk powder
150 grams butter
62 grams yolks
150 grams sugar
60 grams glucose powder
6 grams stabilizer
scrapings of 1 vanilla bean

Earl Grey Bubbles: (Makes 3 cups)
1000 grams earl grey tea (1 L= 20grams infusion)
8 grams egg white powder
5 grams Xanthan gum
15 grams Sucro (or soy lecithin)
28 grams sugar

Chai Tea Pudding: (Makes 3 ½ cups)
50 grams sugar
4 grams agar
250 grams chai tea water (1 L = 20grams infusion)
250 grams whole milk

Bergamot Gelee: (Makes100’s of cubes)
500 grams bergamot tea water (1 L = 20grams infusion)
6 g star anise
5 g cardamom
50 grams glucose
100 grams sugar
3 grams Low acyl (F gellan)

Earl Grey Tea Gel: (Makes 1 ½ pints)
2 grams low acyl (F gellan)
440 grams Earl grey tea
4 grams gelatin

Napal Chai Chips: (Yields 1 sheet pan)
300 grams Chocovic Nepal chocolate
330 grams egg whites (approximately 11 egg whites)
110 grams sugar
5 yolks
3 grams salt
dried ginger, grated to taste
black peppercorn, ground to taste

Sugar Chip: (Yields ¾ sheet pan)
300 grams Demerera sugar (raw)
30 grams egg whites

Orange Peel: (Makes 1 ½ cups)
200 grams orange dried zest
20 grams raw sugar
Granulated sugar, as needed

To Assemble and Serve:
bergamot herbs


For the Candied Kumquat Jam:
Bring the water and sugar to a boil to make syrup. Then add the sliced kumquats and let them simmer for 3 hours covered. Remove the pan from heat, and let the mixture cool. Then strain, and chop into a jam consistency.

For the Milk Chocolate Chai Gelato:
Heat the milk and infuse with the chai for 30 minutes. Strain; Dissolve the milk powder, and sugar with glucose and stabilizers. Add the milk, and the cream to equal 1036g and reheat. Melt the chocolate at 35°C, and add to the mixture. Process in batch freezer; place into piping bags immediately.

For the Vanilla Gelato:
Combine the milk, milk powder, butter, yolks, sugar, glucose powder, stabilizer, and vanilla bean scrapings, and warm the mixture to 85 °C. Process them in a batch freezer, then place the mixture into piping bags.

For the Chai Bars:
Line a small terrine mold with plastic wrap. Pipe the chai gelato in dollops and cover with the vanilla gelato to make the first layer. Repeat this piping method until the top of the terrine is reached. Level off the top. Wrap and freeze.

For the Earl Grey Bubbles:
Sheer together the ingredients and create bubbles by adding air with a hand blender.

For the Chai Tea Pudding:
Sheer the sugar and agar into the chai tea and milk with a hand blender. Add the milk. Pour mixture into a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Set into a shallow pan. Chill. Blend in Vita-Prep blender until the mixture reaches a smooth pudding consistency. Then load the mixture into a squeeze bottle.

For the Bergamot Gelee:
Infuse bergamot water with star anise and cardamom. Sheer in the dry ingredients with a hand blender. Transfer to a pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, pour into a shallow pan, and let chill. Once the mixture has chilled, cut into 1/8 inch cubes.  

For the Earl Grey Tea Gel:
Hydrate Low acyl (F gellan) into cold water, and bring to boil. Add the gelatin, and pour the mixture into a shallow pan. Allow the mixture to set. Blend with a hand blender until liquid gel forms. Then add salt and agave to taste. Load into a squeeze bottle.

For the Napal Chai Chips:
Melt chocolate to 35°C. Whip the egg whites with the sugar until it reaches medium peaks. Fold the egg the mixture into the melted chocolate in parts. Then, whip the yolks until ribbon stage, and fold in. Season with salt, ginger and black pepper to taste. Spread thinly on a Silpat and let it dry out in the oven

For the Sugar Chips:
Whisk the sugar and egg whites together in a mixer until a paste forms and they are well combined. Spread the mixture on a Silpat and dry out in the oven.

For the Orange Peel:
Braise the orange zest in the raw sugar. Dry it out on a Silpat at room temperature. Toss the braised orange peel in the granulated sugar right before serving.

To Assemble and Serve:
Remove the Chai bars from the freezer. Unwrap and unmold the gelato. Cut ¾ inch slices and then punch them with a diamond cutter. In bottom of a dessert bowl, pipe a small amount of Chai pudding. Place the frozen Chai gelato bar in the center. Arrange the bergamot gelee cubes around base. Place the sugar chip, bergamot jam, earl grey gel and braised orange on the top corner of the bar. Add the Chai bubbles and Chai chip. Finish with the fresh bergamot herbs.


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  Published: June 2009