Saturday, September 16, 2006

Baked Chocolate Mousse with Mandarin and Anise Seed & Almond Croustillant

I've tried many times, unsuccessfully, to get a copy of Dominique & Cindy Duby's Wild Sweets - it never seemed to be available. It's finally been re-issued as a paperback edition, which I ordered faster than you can mouth "click". Has it been worth every nail-biting moment of the long wait? Having stayed up all last week way beyond my bedtime engrossed in the book, I can only say a resounding "yes".

The concise, clearly written instructions and explanations make the elaborate fantasy sweets DC Duby is acclaimed for seem accessible. For the curious cook, the approach to pâtisserie as both art and science is a deeply alluring one. As is the genius, positively symphonic use of unconventional ingredients and flavour pairings. And the attractiveness of the final composed desserts? The chapter on ''The Art of Presentation" opens with that old adage, "We eat with our eyes first." Indeed - just take a look at the full-page photographs that lavishly illustrate the volume and feel hungry. Very hungry.

While intrigued by some of the more outre creations - Red Curry Squash Flan with Gnocchi & Coconut Curry Foam, anyone? (really a postmodern pumpkin pie) - I finally settled on a twist on the classic chocolate-and-orange combination. The recipe calls for mandarins - I used unshū mikan - but good old navel oranges can be used as a substitute.

The juice flavours the baked chocolate mousse, the mandarin sorbet, as well as the citrus reduction.

If you happen to have a bit of a plated dessert fetish, this book is a profoundly inspiring source of ideas. I chose a recipe involving klutz-proof construction and assembly - pipe lines of chocolate gelée and citrus reduction, arrange segments of peeled mandarin, top with plank of baked chocolate mousse, finish with scoop of mandarin sorbet sandwiched between pair of anise seed and almond croustillants. But for the adroit and nimble of finger, there's plenty of architecturally challenging fodder (see Keiko's perfect rendition of lemon crépaze with red lentil confit and crispy apple pasta).

The croustillant recipe is an extremely useful trick to have up the sleeve. Very versatile, ring the changes by varying the combination of seeds and nuts used - it's exactly the sort of crisp, delicate and elegant cookie-like thing to serve as a chic accompaniment to any number of sorbets, ice creams and mousses.

Desserts, for me, can be classified into two categories - easy everyday stuff, and what I like to think of as weekend projects. The recipes in this book definitely fall into the latter category, involving as they do several components. But if and when you have the luxury of a long afternoon to yourself, or can steal the occasional moment over a couple of days to check off the components one at a time, it's just the thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This looks stunning! And if such a delicious treat came out of this book, I can't wait to see what other delights it'll produce through you :)

9:18 pm, September 16, 2006  
Blogger Krithika said...

What a gorgeous creation !! croustillant looks fabulous ! Would it be possible for you to post the recipe ?

4:30 am, September 17, 2006  
Blogger Cathy said...

That definitely looks like a weekend project! Amazing Jocelyn!

4:33 am, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic presentation.

5:48 am, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole dessert is gorgeous, but I LOVE the croustillant and fork photo. Beautifully done.

9:21 am, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's kind of eerie, the book-buying path we're following - like you, I was thrilled when it finally came out in paperback, but unlike you, I've been too intimidated to try anything in there. Judging by your gorgeous rendition, I think I'll practice a bit longer before putting up any of my's just too perfect for words.

12:03 pm, September 17, 2006  
Blogger Annette Tan said...

Hi, looks beautiful. I reckon this is another book whose sales you'll help raise this week :-)

1:36 pm, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You amaze me. I am so curious with your cooking process. Your photographs are ALL well art directed. I've worked with food stylsits and food photographers and I know for a fact, it takes alot of time setting up the lights and environment and depending on the dish - the photographer has only a few minutes to capture the wonderful essense of a freshy prepared dish (especially soups and noodles). Because when I am cooking, I'm too engrossed to with the process I don't spend alot of time setting up my props and space for well-lit photography. So do you actually cook and set aside some for photography later or do you pause your cooking process and photograph? You have amazing patience and the fruits are beautiful for all to see!

2:07 pm, September 17, 2006  
Blogger obachan said...

The croustillant does sound like a pretty versatile thing. The sorbet sandwich is so cute.

5:13 pm, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you please share the croustillant recipe J? Thanks!!

1:45 am, September 18, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

incredible and lovely photography! dining vicariously here thru' your photos is always a pleasure

12:52 pm, September 18, 2006  
Blogger Julie said...

Wow, Jocelyn, I'm really glad you finally got that book! I liked reading about your impressions of the very creative flavor components. I'm looking forward to more recipe from the book.

2:24 am, September 19, 2006  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

wonderful photos, I can taste the perfection through the screen! Stunning blog you have created!

10:13 pm, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a funny coincidence - just a couple of days ago I was wondering if Wild Sweets had been released yet and made a mental note to check on amazon, but before I could make it there I saw this! I am now awaiting it more eagerly than ever, though your exquisite, picture-perfect creation here has me more than a little intimidated. I'm hoping a more 'rustic' presentation won't adversely affect the flavor... ;)

11:42 pm, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Ruth Daniels said...

It's been way too long between visits here. I always love your posts - how they're written and of course your beautiful photos.

Thanks so much for sharing.

1:26 am, September 21, 2006  
Blogger daniela said...

wonderfuls photos and great creation!!

4:04 pm, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very complex recipe, however works due to it's minimalist presentation.

It looks absolutely beautiful.

12:04 pm, September 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please post the croustillant recipe, pretty please?

1:39 am, October 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:42 am, April 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:33 am, February 08, 2008  

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