• LJS

Marco Polo

Updated: Apr 23

I’ve been MIA. I know. Its been crazy lately, with classes lastly 16 hours, getting up at 3am to go to a market, making a quick stop by the Champagne powerhouse of Taittanger, going to various pastry shops around Paris to figure out my internship (or stage, if we’re going to be French-like…), and all in all, getting into the Christmas spirit. Oh, and baking up a storm. Luckily for my blog, its freezing in Paris and currently snowing. So I’m wrapped up in a blanket, with my best leg warmers on under my comfy pants, and I’m ready to catch you up.

Sidenote, I thought Paris wasn’t that cold? Sort of like DC, I thought it wasn’t supposed to be freezing. These past few weeks have had me in more layers than I wore in that one freezing year in Boston. I miss my puffy coat right now…

Back to the focus of this post. With school almost being done – eek!! – we have been really firing up our output. We had another week of entremets, where we crafted 6 cakes. I was partnered with Chef that week, and since it was all things we had basically done before, we were on our own. Which meant I was on my own. It went pretty well, with only one incident with the whipped cream becoming butter…but I didn’t burn my pastry cream!

We made 5 cakes at the same time for 4 days (another post – catching up today, I told you!), then wrapped up with the week with this sort of masterpiece of skills, the San Marco.

Pause for my clever Marco Polo-San Marco correlation (I’ve been slacking on posts, therefore missing, and the cake in this post entitled San Marco). Right?! Keep the comments to a minimum on this and just say yes please. Thanks.

Ok, as with all entremets, it started off with well with some simple syrup and kirsch soaked pistachio dacquois. A dacquois is a type of meringue almost, made with egg whites, powdered sugar, almond powder and in this case, pistachio paste.

*Pistachio Paste: one of the best smelling, looking, amazing products out there. I love pistachio.

On our dacquois, we piled on some chocolate parfait, similar to a mousse, with simple syrup, egg yolks, dark chocolate and whipped cream. I wanted to lick the bowl like a little kid once we had poured it on our cakes. It was delicious.

The next layer was a pistachio bavarois. I just know I would love bavarois – a bit like cream anglaise or pastry cream, but set by cooling it quickly and made thick with whipped cream. But it has gelatin in it, and I can’t eat it. Well, I could eat it, but I won’t. Gelatin isn’t vegetarian and therefore its presence in many desserts we’ve made has saved me approximately 20 pounds of weight I would have otherwise gained from eating all the really lovely, pretty, delicious desserts this year. Woe is me. I guess another dessert to be served to others…

The top of the cake is finished with a chocolate mousse, made with sugar instead of simple syrup like the parfait chocolate. Its softer, which is key to the decoration of this cake. Making one side flat and smooth, you build up the other side with a thicker layer of mousse. Also, since after each layer, we toss our cakes into the Koma (super-fast amazing freezer!), the cake is frozen and the application of applying a smooth layer of mousse must be done quickly. The mousse begins to set almost immediately with the cold cake and any mess up’s are blatantly obvious. You can tell how fast we must be from Chef’s blurred hand in my picture. Totally on purpose. Artistic. Movement. Action. And my art teacher thinks I don’t plan well…HA.

On the thicker side, you grab a toothed-comb (that, true story, once fell out of the cabinet and tried to kill me. We’ve gotten past it and I have recovered and healed from the physical cuts on my hands. Now we are buddies, working as a team to show the mousse who’s boss), and rake it over the mousse to form a peak and valley decoration on half the cake.

Then the fun happens – chocolate gun! We spray a thin layer of chocolate to finish off the mountainous side of the cake, making it look more polished and finished.

End result = more chocolate. Always a good idea.

Finally, we make a chocolate finishing glaze to pour over the other side of the cake. And you thought I just forgot about the poor smooth side. Nope, it gets fancied up too. The glaze is a mix of sugar, chocolate and a few other trade secrets, made as smooth as possible. It was so lovely looking, but again, gelatin. I didn’t taste this. Its ok though, there was leftover mousse that I grabbed a spoon and ate to feel better.

Finished! Isn’t it beautiful?

No?

Of course we weren’t done. This was a test of skills, a practice of many layers of our education over the past few months, an ode to our new level of pastry chef-ing, a dedication to chocolate…mostly we had more time in class and we needed to practice tempering chocolate. So we did and spread a layer on a plastic sheet measured to be the same thickness of the cake.

And then we wrapped that cake up in chocolate, like I’m wrapped up in a blanket.

Then we took the chocolate and made leaves.

Then Chef made a flower out of chocolate and we sat around oohing and aahing over the lily. We are pastry chefs, its really cool when Chef whips up a flower out of chocolate in 5 minutes in front of our eyes.

Unfortunately, the oohing and aahing took up a bit of time and we didn’t have the time to make flowers. So I grabbed the leaves and did my own thing, yet again. Chef, as per usual, just laughed and kept going…I see a trend.

Anyway, here’s my finished cake! Yeah! Chocolate and Pistachio Wonderland! All in all, really a great cake to make, super pretty. We ended up serving it in our school’s restaurant for dessert one of the days we were scheduled up there. And think, it only took the group 6 hours to make one!

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