One of the benefits of being chefs is that occasionally we get invited to educational demonstrations like the one we attended today at the Institute of Culinary Education. The demonstration was hosted by Valrhona chocolate and featured Philippe Givre, Valrhona’s French pastry chef and assistant director of L’Ecole du Grand Chocolat; and Derek Poirier, Valrhona's North American Pastry Chef. It was a four hour presentation featuring four recipes and some of our favorite chocolate and definitely time well spent.
As chefs, continuing education is incredibly important. The world of food is ever-changing and it's easy to get set in our ways and forget to keep pushing our horizons outward. French pastry is not either of our fortes, we tend toward more American style desserts and so it was a lot of fun to be exposed to this very different approach to desserts. Yes there are classic recipes and techniques that span international style, but the perspectives and the approaches can be very different. I love being able to look into someone else's world and see glimpses of where their inspirations come from.
The recipes that were demonstrated were very solid, with an attention to detail that we both appreciated. I've already been inspired to go back and rework yesterday's sorbet technique for a slightly more labor intensive approach that will yield more consistent results. I'll update the post when I finish this tonight.
One of the very best ideas that we took from the demonstration was caramelized white chocolate. Let me state that again, it was caramelized white chocolate. The chefs at Valrhona roast their white chocolate at 266 degrees Fahrenheit/130 degrees Celsius for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until it reaches the desired color and flavor. Obviously you can adjust cooking times to your own taste. The caramelized white chocolate is simply amazing. The flavor is rich and creamy and almost like butterscotch. Too my taste and nose it was all brown butter, I had to resist dipping my finger in the bowl of melted caramelized white chocolate as it was passed around for us to observe.
Of course we couldn't leave well enough alone. After much discussion on the drive home, Alex fired up the pressure cooker. We chopped the chocolate and sealed it in a bag and cooked it at high pressure for 30 minutes. The results were much darker and deeper than the version we tasted this afternoon. Of course here too, you may adjust the cooking time to suit your own taste. There is definitely something to be said and recipes to be made at both ends of the cooking spectrum. Caramelized white chocolate, oh the places we'll go...