Monday, August 22, 2011

Plaisir Sucre - Sweet Pleasure, it really was.

from top - toasted hazelnut, tempered chocolate sheet, chocolate creme chantilly, chocolate ganache, hazelnut praline feuillantine, hazelnut dacquoise.

My very first entremet - a gorgeous 5 layer chocolate dessert from an esteemed pastry chef, Pierre Hermes. Man was this a lot of effort. Took me a good whole day, plenty of equipment, plenty of chocolate, plenty of stray chocolate and of course plenty of finger picking and licking.

When I first saw the recipe on Evan's blog, I knew that I HAD to make it. I've always been an avid reader of her blog. Her food styling, her pictures, her interests in complex desserts and flavors and her talents just never cease to amaze and inspire me. I wish I had as much finesse as her but I know I'm way too new to attain the magic her hands possess. But it's alright. I'll get there some day!

Gosh I can't even achieve the same effect as her pictures even when I shamelessly copied the positioning. HAHAHA. I've got SO MUCH to learn, and so much more to experiment before I can carve my own style, be it in food styling, photo composition and placement and even blogging styles.

Back to the entremet now. The taste was divine - indulgent, rich and chocolatey. Exactly what I absolutely adore in a pastry. The hazelnuts were an excellent complement, naturally. The textural elements were amazing - the crispy feuillantine, the crunchy chocolate sheets, the light creamy chocolate creme, the thick ganache, the nutty hazelnut dacquoise all played together like a perfect symphony. This was truly a spectacular creation by a spectacular man in the industry. And I can only look forward to trying the real deal from the man himself, someday.

The looks have so much more to improve though, on my part. I didn't know how to slice nor store them appropriately so the dacquoise layer got a little sticky and began losing some of its edges here and there. I didn't know how to slice it cleanly as well so there weren't beautiful lines and angles (which I personally believe is critical in displaying finesse and mastery. After all if it's ugly, then what am I paying for, right? Here is the original from Pierre himself!)

It took so so SO much restraint to not finish them all instead of sharing them with my friends. I remember my sister's face when she first tried it. With wide eyed wonderment and conviction, she said "eh that pastry is Very good. Very good. omg its Very good". =)

The recipe itself assumes some basic knowledge in handling of each component and hence, is very skeletal. I'll share some tips though, things that I've encountered along the way.

Adapted from Evan's blog, from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermes.

Makes 8 3 x 11cm entremet, with plenty of components left overTempered milk chocolate sheets
at least 450g milk couverture choc. please splurge and get a good chocolate. =D The actual

Chocolate creme
143g milk choc, splurge and get good chocolate!
218ml whipping cream

Hazelnut dacquoise
35g ground hazelnuts
50g icing sugar
45g egg whites, room temp (about 2 egg whites)
1.5 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted, skinned & halved

Hazelnut praline feuillantine
100g nutella or hazelnut praline paste
25g milk choc, melted & cooled til lukewarm
1/2 cup rice krispies or 1/4 cup feuilletine flakes. wafer crumbs work as well. just something to give a textural crunch would suffice! =D
1/2 tbsp butter, melted & cooled

Milk choc ganache
95g milk choc (get good ones once again! =D)
83ml whipping cream


1. Temper the chocolate. For milk chocolate, the chocolate has to be melted to no more than 49C, then cooled to 27C, then warmed to 30C. The chocolate at 30C will be liquid and flowable. Upon cooling, the tempered chocolate will have an excellent bite (snap, they call it) that is texturally superior to chocolate that isn't tempered. Visit this site for a step by step photo tutorial on how to temper!

2. After tempering, spoon them into your mouth with a ladle spread them unto a plastic sheets preferably (I used plastic sheets that printing places use to cover the front of booklets) in a thin layer and score the 3cm by 10cm rectangle shapes. I spread the mixture onto 4 A4 plastic sheets and scored roughly 8 rectangles on every sheet. Be careful here cause they break easily. Not that I minded the extra pieces to eat... The remainder can be refrigerated until needed.

2. For chocolate creme, chop the chocolate into small pieces and place them into a large clean dry bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and then pour them over the chocolate. After 15 seconds (to let the chocolate gets warmed up) stir the mixture with a clean dry utensil until homogenous and then cover the bowl with plastic, allowing the plastic to touch the surface of the chocolate mixture. Refrigerate for 5 - 6h at least. Before using, whip the mixture until almost firm then re-refrigerate if not using immediately.

3. For hazelnut dacquoise, sift ground hazelnuts & icing sugar together & set aside. In a clean dry bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy and then gradually add in sugar and whisk until stiff peaks. Fold the hazelnut mixture into the whites gently until all the hazelnut mixture has been incorporated and then spread the mixture evenly onto a 8-inch baking tray lined with parchment paper. Scatter hazelnut halves on top then press down slightly. Bake in a preheated oven of 165C for 25-30 mins or until browned. Leave to cool. The dacquoise will deflate after cooling so don't worry, you didn't fail!

4. For hazelnut praline feuillantine, place nutella/praline paste in bowl then add in the remaining ingredients the order they're listed. Mix well then spread the praline evenly onto the dacquoise, working from the center and spread as far as it will go to the edges. Refrigerate the spread praline feuillantine for at least 30 mins to firm up. More importantly, resist spooning them into your mouth because you WILL end up with nothing left and may have to remake the entire batch of praline feuillantine.

5. For the choc ganache, chop the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a clean dry bowl. Bring cream to a boil and then pour the heated cream into the bowl of chopped chocolate. After 15 seconds, stir the chocolate and cream mixture with a clean dry utensil until the chocolate is completely melted (or when the lumpy bits have been eaten). Allow the ganache to cool & thicken or refrigerate until a pipeable consistency. If overchilled, just let the ganache sit out for a while and it'll soften back. If you're in a cold country, you could warm it up in the microwave in 10 second bursts.

6. To assemble, slice the dacquoise&praline feuillantine into 11x3cm rectangles. I managed to get 7.5 of them. Oops ate the other half. Then, pipe a thin layer of ganache over the dacquoises. Place a milk choc sheet on top, shiny side up and pipe another thin layer of ganache onto the chocolate sheet. Place another chocolate sheet over. Pipe a line of chocolate creme on top of the chocolate sheet and top with one last piece of chocolate sheet. Decorate with toasted whole hazelnuts if desired. I cemented them into place with chocolate ganache.

LOVE how this picture makes me go weak in my knees. And my heart muscles as well I reckon.

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D

Tempering chocolate
1) Start with at least 400g so it's easier to handle and temper correctly. A thermometer is recommended, unless of course you've been tempering chocolate all your life and you KNOW what temperature it is at by just the sensation on your fingers and lips (you WILL dip your lips into chocolate when you are tempering. I can't be the only one in the world that does that, right?!)

2) Youtube it and read up on tempering chocolate thoroughly so you know what you have to achieve.

3) Lay a HUGE piece of parchment paper on the surface you're working on. Licking parchment paper after tempering seems more dignified than licking the table.

4) Ensure that everything that the melted chocolate touches is dry = free from ANY water at all. If not it'll cause the chocolate to sieze (become chunky and chalky) and render it completely unusable in its state.

5) When the chocolate gets chilled in the fridge, it distorts and bends. I used a flat weight (a frozen pizza pizza box) to weigh on top of the chocolate in the fridge so that I will still have my straight rectangles

Chocolate creme chantilly

6) Please chill it sufficiently. The longer it sits in the fridge, the better. If not, it won't hold its shape when its beaten and all you'll have is a lump of chocolate butter that doesn't fluff. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing of course... But that's another recipe already I reckon.

Hazelnut dacquoise
7) It's just like making macarons or meringue. I folded the hazelnut powder mixture until it has just disappeared. It doesn't have to be over babied.

8) The dacquoise will be sticky when it has cooled down for too much and is difficult to handle so don't be surprised that it sticks to the paper!

Overall there isn't much to look out for since each component on its own is very basic. But the beauty is in the composition of the entire entremet itself. Sweet Pleasure, it really was. From the making, to the plating, to the eating, right down to the sharing. Some people may find it too rich and cloying for their liking though (which happened to me and I had some half eaten entremets left over) but not for me. If I am going to spend some of my calorie credit, it better be on something rich, indulgent and chocolatey. =)

1 comment:

  1. Alright, I'm making this today! Found several recipes online, but yours was the most readable...wish me luck! I am going to double it for a crowd. I am most worried about the tempered chocolate, but hoping the video will help!


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