Most human beings have an irrepressible appetite for sweet things, and desserts exist to indulge it. As a young chef learning my trade in London, I always looked on the pastry section as another world. In those day’s, pastry chefs occupied a very special place in the pecking order of top kitchens and I always dreamed of learning and working with a great “pastissier”.
One day I got my chance and I still remember being absolutely spellbound by the delicacy and sheer artistry of the pastry chef’s work. It was a very tough and very steep learning curve for me but it was also one of the most rewarding periods of my professional life.
Later on I realised that most head chefs seemed to run scared of pastry chefs because it was invariably the weakest link in their culinary armoury and they would very often leave the selection and execution of the desserts entirely in their hands. That has never made any sense to me because its an essential part of a chef’s repertoire and sometimes you can see a totally different style and philosophy on the plate when your desserts arrive in a restaurant.
Food for the soul
Desserts are designed to give pleasure; they should be food for the soul and sensuous by their very nature. They can arouse passion and be provocative, but they should also provide a structure and balance to a restaurant menu. Importantly, they are the final thing that you eat and it’s important to leave a great lasting impression and a wonderful, lingering taste.
At Simply Fosh, some of our desserts tend to be fairly complex constructions that require a lot of time and occasionally special equipment that are not usually found in domestic kitchens. Obviously when I’m cooking at home for family or friends, I want something that can be whipped up in a flash while still looking impressive and tasting absolutely delicious. So do you need something sweet but have no time to spare? These quick and easy desserts take just 15 minutes from start to finish and are guaranteed to impress.
Recipe 1: Coffee “Cappuccino” Mousse
- 180g Chocolate
- 4 Tbsp Strong Black Coffee
- 5 Egg Whites
- 50g Sugar
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 100ml Cream (whipped)
- 2 Tbsp Tia Maria
Melt the Chocolate with the coffee and remove from the heat. Add the Tia Maria and egg yolks. Now beat the egg whites and sugar to a stiff meringue fold into the chocolate mixture and then gently fold in the whipped cream. Pour into moulds or coffee cups and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Recipe 2: Chilled red fruit and lemon verbena soup with chocolate foam
Ingredients: serves 6
Chilled strawberry and lemon verbena soup:
- 400g Strawberries
- 300g raspberries
- 150 redcurrants
- 75g caster sugar
- 100ml sweet dessert wine such as Muscat or sauternes
- 6 *lemon verbena leaves
- Juice of 2 lemons
Bring to the boil the sweet wine, verbena leaves, lemon juice and sugar. Leave to infuse and cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. In a food processor, puree the strawberries with the lemon verbena syrup. Pass through a sieve and chill for at least 2-3 hours.
White chocolate foam:
- 380ml milk
- 150g white chocolate
Chop the white chocolate and place in a bowl. Bring the milk to the boil and pour over the chopped chocolate. Stir until all the white chocolate has melted and pour into a soda siphon. Charge with gas and leave to chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
To serve: Pour the chilled strawberry into tall glasses and top with white chocolate foam. Garnish with red fruits and lemon verbena.
*You can substitute the lemon verbena with 2 finely chopped lemongrass sticks