I love baking. I honestly almost went to culinary school to study baking and pastry, but then I didn't. I know a lot of culinary folks don't care for making desserts, but I am blissfully happy every day I get to make pastries. It's therapeutic and the results are beautiful. Sometimes the most memorable course is the final one, so there's no point in skimping when you want to make an impression.
Last Friday we made some pastry cream and put it aside to use today to make fruit tarts and fruit strips. I've made my share of fruit tarts, and the short dough is really easy to work with (it's like a cookie, really), so my group agreed that it would be a nice change to make fruit strips instead, using puff pastry. You dock the whole piece of puff pastry so it doesn't puff up too much. Then you slice 4 thin strips, and then cut the rest in half lengthwise. You lightly brush egg wash on the large pieces and lay the narrow pieces along the edges. Trim the ends and brush the whole thing with more egg wash and you're ready to go! Bake them off and pipe pastry cream along the length and then make strips of fruit along the length. We thought cutting them on the bias would be nice and I think it looked prettier than if we had just cut them at right angles.
I really love the way the fruit strips looked and they were so flaky and light as well. Considering there is so much butter in puff pastry (that's how they are leavened, just air from the butter melting at a high temp), this creamy, fruit-laden pastry did not taste like it was unhealthy! Maybe that's why it's so dangerous... you can't stop from eating it, haha. We also made a mango Chantilly cream, some chocolate sauce, and some colorful white chocolate crisps using a transfer sheet for our plating design. It came together somewhat hastily since we were running out of time, but I really like the way it looked and tasted :)
For tomorrow's plating, our class made custard-based desserts today (ie flan, creme brulee, cheesecakes, etc). My group opted for a cheesecake, which took longer to put together than the other options. We made a cherry chocolate-swirl cheesecake to be exact, using some chopped up dried cherries, a chocolatey crust, and some milk chocolate couverture to make the swirls. We made it in a 9-inch cake pan and put it in the freezer overnight. We will flip it out of the pan tomorrow and slice it up semi-frozen to get more perfect slices.
Cherry Cheesecake Mixture, with the Chocolate Mixture Beside it
Baked Cherry Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake
Making the Puff Pastry Base for Fruit Strips
First Batch was Slightly Undercooked... Our Second Batch was Better!
Our Gorgeous Fruit Strips Cut on the Bias... I Arranged the Fruit and I Think I Did a Pretty Nice Job Considering the Rush :)
Assembling our Plates
Our Finished Plate: Fruit Strip with Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Kiwi, and Strawberries, Mango Chantilly Cream Topped with Blackberry, Mandarin Orange, and White Chocolate Crisp, and Chocolate Sauce Dots