For Pastry Chef Shawn Gawle, dessert creation isn't just about nostalgia or reflections on color. It's about taking traditional ideas and turning them on their head, with an eye toward modern technique and innovative presentation. It's no wonder Gawle has made a name for himself at Chef Paul Liebrandt's Corton, first as our 2011 New York Rising Star and then as one of Food & Wine's 2012 Best New Pastry Chefs.
For Gawle, the task of making marshmallowsa simple marriage of eggs whites or gelatin and a flavoring agentbecomes so much more. Whether he's toasting them as a garnish, or dipping an unset batch into liquid nitrogen (techniques he'll share in a hands-on demonstration at this year's 7th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress), in Gawle's hands, marshmallows are elevated from their fluff status.
In his Marshmallow Sorbet, marshmallow acts as a stabilizer for fruit juice. Gawle first soaks his gelatin directly in fresh ginger syrup for added flavor, using it to make a traditional marshmallow. Once cool, the marshmallow is cubed, combined with blood orange juice and additional sugars, and frozen. During pick-up, Gawle pacotizes the sorbet to order, piping it beehive-style around carrot cake. "The marshmallow is like a frosting for a cake, but frozen," he explains.
Topped with orange cells (separated by a dip in liquid nitrogen), the plate plays with texture and flavor. The sorbet is a novel take on semifreddo and offers bright citrus flavor and airy texture opposite the spices of his rich, dense carrot cake. "It has carrot, ginger, and lemongrass," Gawle says. "I modeled the recipe off my friend's mother's zucchini bread recipe."
Because this sorbet depends on the marshmallow as a thickening agent, a traditional freezing machine won't work. "As it melts, it gets more liquidy and spotty," explains Gawle, who suggests pacotizing just a few orders of the base at a time. When the product becomes too loose, he discharges it into a new canister to refreeze and spin. While the technique may be logistically challenging for large-scale production, it yields an avant-garde presentation and texture that's worth the extra effort.
Marshmallow Sorbet Technique:
1. Bloom gelatin directly in flavored syrup. Transfer the bloomed gelatin with the syrup into the bowl of a mixer.
2. In a small saucepot, combine sugar, water, glucose, and trimoline and cook to 116°C.
3. Pour the sugar syrup over the gelatin syrup and whip on medium speed until the mixture cools to 30°C. Spread onto acetate and set until firm.
4. Cube the marshmallow and blend together with fruit juice and sugar. Freeze in a container overnight.
5. Pacotize the marshmallow sorbet à la minute (it must be very cold, and only spin as much as needed), and pipe to order.