New Winter Desserts

 Thursday, January 10, 2013

I know this is very cliche to say, but I feel like the past year has been passing by so fast. I got caught up in the holidays, and before long, I realized pumpkin cheesecake had a spot on our menu way past it's "seasonal expiration date." Coming up with a new dessert idea and testing recipes during the Christmas-New Year's push proved to be challenging. I knew I wanted to do a mascarpone cheesecake and had to test so many variations of it in order to get the recipe perfect. Because mascarpone has less structure than the typical cream cheese found in cheesecake, it was tricky to figure out a balance so that it would not  collapse, but also still taste like the mascarpone. Once that was done, I played around with a few uses of tangerine before settling on a tangerine gelee made with marmalade and a tangerine sorbet. I was originally thinking of a mulled wine sorbet, which tasted great on its own but really, really did not work with the dish (my sous chef Kristen declared it tasted "like someone spilled their glass of wine on their dessert plate"). I reduced that sorbet into a sauce, and the full dessert finally came together.

Chef Marc was also interested in using meyer lemons in a dessert. Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and mandarins and are sweeter and more fragrant that common lemons. I love using citrus like blood oranges and meyer lemons in winter because they really brighten up a dessert menu. I didn't want to do something as straight-forward as a classic lemon meringue because the idea wasn't interesting to me. I opted instead to make a sesame sucree (sucree is a sweet tart dough) and line the tarts with those and paired it with honey tahini ice cream. Everyone's first reaction to the sesame/tahini was that it sounded weird, but I think I won most people over when they tasted it. The tart filling is lemon curd, one of my absolute favorite things to eat. The word "curd" is weird and scares a lot of people off from how delicious it really is. Curd is basically just a fruit pudding made with a lot of butter. Ok, that description probably doesn't sound much better, but it really is amazing. The tart is topped with a little dehydrated lemon zest and served with a huckleberry sauce. For a bit of "wow" factor, I made a sesame "glass" which is just sugar that's cooked to a high temperature, poured out onto black and white sesame seeds, and pulled super thin while it's still hot. Both desserts start on the menu tomorrow, just in time for the weekend.


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