What happens when you combine six driven students and a brilliant chef? Magic in the kitchen!
Our challenge: As a class, create 15 identical desserts using pineapple. Sounds easy enough eh?
Of course each of us came prepared with ideas when we held our first powwow. We knew we wanted something with an island flare so we decided to combine five key elements. (1) Spiced pineapple pan-seared in citrus and brown sugar, (2) something coconut, (3) a cake, (4) two incredible sauces, and (5) an out-of-this-world garnish. As we further considered texture, temperature, and flavor we decided to go with pineapple rings, coconut mousse, soaked orange chiffon cake, caramel and a vinaigrette blackberry gastrique, and some sort of tuile cookie for height. Mirtha immediately seized the task of creating an original coconut mousse, while Laura and Michael started on the cake. En started to prep the pineapple leaving Bianca and me to finish the aesthetic concept and sauces and garnish.
Originally we planned on a round dessert, but Bianca and I soon realized that the pineapple pieces were much too large for our concept. After much deliberation and many sketches, we decided to cut the pineapple into three small disks that we would lay on top of a miniature plank of mouse and cake. For more embellishment, some macadamia nuts were toasted to sprinkle on top of the pineapple. The gastrique was prepped and the caramel mise-ed. After consulting with Chef Rocque, we decided to go with a custom designed tuile cookie garnished with shredded coconut. Chef gave me some rubber-like material, 1/16" in thickness, which I used to cut the shape we desired for the tuile. We spread the batter into the handmade mold to create the cookies on a silpat-lined pan then garnished them with the shredded coconut. Once out of the oven, we grabbed the searing hot cookies--browned to perfection--with our hands to curved them over a mise cup with a slight slant to the left. After they hardened, we had our out-of-this-world garnish. The mousse and the cake were cut to the appropriate size, the cake was soaked in the remaining juices from the spiced pineapple, and all 15 plates were set out--ready to go.
We worked in an assembly line as we constructed our dessert. Cake, first. Mousse, second. Pineapple trio, third. Macadamia nuts, forth. Clean check and wipe down. Garnish, in (Chef had the great idea of tucking it under the dessert instead of just placing it over for a more stable structure). One more clean check and wipe down. The finished the plated dessert with our two sauces just minutes before our 8:45 AM deadline. We decided on the name, "Reine du Paradis" translated Queen of Paradise for our incredible dessert. Chef gave us his kind critique after which we photographed and then enjoyed the fruits of our labor. It was delicious--the combination of flavors was superb! You know, with the little experience each of us has, we really came together on this and created something magnificent. I'm so proud of our teamwork! There's no way we would have been able to come up with this creation without all six of us (well, seven of us--sorry Chef). Enjoy the pictures!
Reine du Paradis
Our Fifteen Identical Desserts
The Final Product
A Closer Look