Wednesday, 6 March 2013

"Cake"uterie or Cheese"cake" Board

A talented young local chef acquaintance sent me a random text one day. We hadn't chatted in while. It basically said... I have been watching you. You can bake for me" It was awesome. Immediately my gears started spinning. He gave me complete freedom, a budget, and a date. I agonised over what to make. I debated between trying to impress him with fantastic design and decorations, or focus on getting the flavors right to please his chefy palette. after much inner turmoil i decided to focus on pleasing his palette.

My next challenge was to narrow down the ideas i had. I knew he was a fan of ginger, so I had to include that somewhere. And since he works in an amazing Italian eatery, i knew an Italian theme in flavors would hit the mark. but how to decide?!?


I love a great charcuterie board. i also get very excitable about i decided to do a dessert version of a charcuterie with the Italian flavors.

I made a simple ricotta cheese. which is done very simply by basically curdling milk and collecting the curds. I did it with lemon juice, which left a slight flavor I didn't care for. Mr chef did notice, and suggested I try sour cream next time, and i shall.

meant to be served with the ricotta, i baked a pound cake sliced it very thin and baked it a second time. it crisped up like a crostini. of course the crostini and ricotta begged for accompaniment. i steeped a luscious local honey with rosemary and lemon, made slightly sweetened espresso into "caviar" using molecular gastronomy, and finally  reduced a nice Merlot with juicy raspberries. delish!!

to appease his fondness for ginger i makes a chocolate  ginger cheesecake, and topped it with dark chocolate ganache and ginger truffles. it wouldn't be Italian desserts without a tiramisu, so i made fluffy sheets of ladyfingers, and rich mascapone fixings and layered them in a  jar with a hint of booziness.

the other cakes were white chocolate pistachio, and brown butter honey and pine nut. and then... AND THEN.... the cheesecake. I stacked two vanilla bean cheesecakes and topped them with fresh strawberries. yeah i know that doesn't sound to great. until i cooked down some balsamic vinegar with vanilla and drizzled it over top. life changing. I think it is in my top three fave things i have ever put in my face. (in other news...this same balsamic reduction is amazing on Greek yogurt)

Charcuteries usually have some sort of spiced nuts, so I candied pecans with brown sugar, Cayenne and paprika. they turned out to be incredibly addictive. mmmmmm i want some right now!!

the final touch was a handful of  my buttery caramels strewn around the board.

hard to believe i started with this empty space, i really crammed in as much as i could. overall i was really pleased with myself. and i was thrilled to watch them taste each component. I enjoyed both the praise and constructive criticism. I had a blast creating everything. it is definitely one of the times where having full creative freedom was AWESOME!