Baking| The Le Cordon Bleu Chocolate Bible … Chocolate Creme Brulee & a review!

“Chocolate arouses as much passion among pastry chefs as it does fondness among chocolate lovers.”
Patrick Martin, Chocolate Bible

Chocolate Creme BruleeIf there is one Bible you need this holiday season, it’s got to be the Le Cordon Bleu Chocolate Bible. A book that I first saw when I went to attend the LCB pastry workshop last month, amongst their other 2 publications – The LCB Cook’s Bible,  and LCB Desserts. I have had the LCB Cook’s Bible for a while now, a book which is in effect a culinary bible of how to cook. It is my ready reckoner from basics like eggs, milk, cream, dairy, to more involved stuff like spatchcocking a chicken, to making the perfect omelet etc. It includes also garnishes, presentation, serving suggestions … if there is a culinary question, the answers most likely in there!

Calling all chocoholics!

Le Cordon Bleu’s Chocolate Bible has arrived, showcasing over 160 recipes of chocolate heaven. Released October 2010, the Chocolate Bible is an English translation of the highly successful Petit Larousse du Chocolat, now offering Anglophones the chance to try their hand at Le Cordon Bleu’s decadent delights. From tarts to truffles, cakes to creams, this step by step guide is a must-have for chocolate lovers.

When I saw the Chocolate Bible at the Le Cordon Blue Pastry Workshop I was invited to attend, I was enamored by it, and am delighted to review it. It’s a book that every chocolate lover must have. The English edition is published by Carroll and Brown.

Chocolate Creme BruleeA lot of my readers write in to me asking for cookbook suggestions, especially here in India, as home baking is breaking new ground. This one book is a chocolate lovers dream, a book with recipes you can recreate, and easily so. The instructions are clear and simple. It’s not an overwhelmingly overdose of chocolate in any way. It is a sweet reaffirmation of the quote “9 out of 10 people like chocolate. The 10th person always lies“. I have seen self proclaimed chocolate haters, cross over and enjoy a good chocolate dessert, testimony to the charm and temptation this quintessential ingredient holds.Chocolate Creme BruleeThe Le Cordon Bleu Chocolate Bible is a simple book without complicated techniques and exotic ingredients. It works on a basic premise that good quality basic ingredients, using basic equipment can turn out a delicious and creative recipe. In the book, the LCB chefs share their knowledge and techniques through a variety of recipes which are easy to reproduce by anyone, no matter what her or his level of skill might be.  It allows you to experience the charm of chocolate in all possible ways, offering something suitable for every occasion.

Chocolate Creme BruleeThe book is divided into mouthwatering sections beginning with Temptingly Rich cakes, Tarts to Die For, Mouth-Watering Mousses & Creams, Iced Desserts & Sweet Drinks, Teatime Treats to Share…and ends with Delightful Mouthfuls! Each section begins with ‘The best way to - make a basic ganaché…, prepare pastry dough…, prepare a chocolate meringue…,fill éclairs…, temper chocolate etc. It’s a book worth owning and diving in to!  All along, it offers valuable tips and suggestions, picture tutorials for pastry making, working with chocolate, making garnishes, chocolate shavings, praline paste …. I could go on and on.Chocolate Creme BruleeI chose to try 3 recipes from the book on Boxing Day and I managed all 3 that afternoon. Was as simple as that. It might have taken even lesser time had i not stopped to run back & forth taking pictures. Ah well…that’s part of my culinary adventures, and another reason why I love the book so. The pictures are amazing, each say a 1000 words. The recipes I tried … first the Chocolate Creme Brulee because I needed a really quick and simple dessert that night. This was just the thing, and was soon in the oven. I began to ponder about ways to use up the egg whites I had on hand. The brulee needed 4 egg yolks, and I knew the whites would find their way home one way or the other. A quick look at the index and I knew Chocolate Meringues {with a chocolate Chantilly cream & strawberries} were a great choice. Chocolate Creme BruleeWe had folk coming over for dinner in a few days, and these beauties could be made and stored in an air tight box for weeks in advance! Luxury for someone like me who loves advance planning. Brulee done and cooling, in went my little nests, to be baked for an hour.  I still had time on hand, so was egged on to turn more pages. Teatime was here and there was something charming about these Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Biscuits. Going by the picture, they were like cookies I had never baked before. The dough needed to be rolled and chilled for an hour, the perfect time frame for me, while the meringues baked in a low oven. Such fun juggling time slots! I was out of powdered sugar, so I took the Bibles suggestion and rolled the cookie dough cylinders in cocoa. Chocolate Creme BruleeAm glad I did because it provided great contrast and visual appeal. For me, food which looks good is very pleasing to the eye and palette; a pleasure to serve. A  little note: I found that the suggested baking times for all 3 recipes fell slightly short of the actual time taken. The creme brulee was nowhere set in 20 minutes, and a quick reference to the brulee recipe in INDULGE – 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark had me cranking the oven temperature to 150C and baking the brulees for a further 15 minutes. The meringues also baked for 30 minutes longer to get them crisp dry. The cookies took 17 minutes as against the suggested 10 minutes.

Chocolate Creme BruleeI would probably put this discrepancy down to calibrated vs non calibrated ovens. Professional ovens in test kitchens and the resultant timings are often different from home ovens. Also, the oven I recently bought is one imported from the UK and its baking function works just on the lower element. As with most baking books, I always take the suggested time as a rough guideline, so all was well.Chocolate Creme BruleeOn the whole, the results were delicious. The brulee was rich, chocolaty and creamy … indulgent in every way. The meringues were crisp and delicious, chocolate flavours flooding the mouth with every bite, Chantilly cream & all. My teen tester was won over. She got to taste a few little meringues that were baked independently … just perfect she said. Maybe they’ll make wonderful kisses I thought. The cookies too were wonderful, and ‘The best I’ve had in a while’ declared the lad who was soon queuing up to play tester. I liked that the cookies were different from the regular chocolate chip cookies we make all the time; a great addition to the teatime cookie platter.Chocolate Creme BruleeI’m going to share the Chocolate Creme Brulee recipe with you today. Other temptations that I have bookmarked to try in the future are Chocolate Hazelnut Square, Chocolate Cherry Cake, Darjeeling Infused Chocolate Mousse & Columbian Coffee Cream, Iced Chocolate Parfait with Orange-Basil Cream, Old Fashioned Cream Souffle, Chocolate Coffee Dessertto name just a few!

Thank you Surit Mitra for sending me the book. The distributor for CHOCOLATE BIBLE in India is Book World Enterprises of Mumbai. The book is available for Rs 1495.
Ctc 09820034530 (Mr Satish Shah)

Chocolate Creme BruleeChocolate Creme Brulee
From Le Cordon Bleu Chocolate Bible, pg 138 {Printed with permission}
Serves 4
4 egg yolks
50g castor sugar
100ml milk {original recipe said 125ml}
150ml low fat cream {original recipe said 125ml whipping cream}
100g dark chocolate, chopped
Decoration
Caster Sugar
Chocolate Creme BruleeMethod:
Preheat the oven to 95C/205F. Prepare 4 small baking dishes or low sided ramekins.
Combine the egg yolks and 40g of the sugar in a large bowl, beat until the mixture is cream and pale.
Heat the milk, cream and remaining castor sugar { I added a scraped vanilla bean too} until simmering. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until well cobined and smooth. Slowly stir the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Pour the chocolate mixture into the dishes to come 3/4 up the sides.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven grill to its maximum temperature. Sprinkle the creams evenly with the castor sugar and place under the grill until the sugar has become a dark brown topping. Let cool and serve once the topping had hardened.
Chocolate Creme BruleeChefs Tip: To correctly caramelise or gratinee the creams, put the oven rack as close to the heat source as possible.

My Notes: I decreased the milk and increased the cream as we do not get whipping cream locally in India. Also, whenever I do egg based desserts, I like to add a scraped vanilla bean. Feel free to omit this as it is not part of the original recipe. My creams took about 40 minutes to appear firm. I served mine with some preserved burgundy cherries.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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Food Events| A French Pastry Festival with Le Cordon Bleu. Also, Thermomix comes to India

“I hope that every time Indian consumers taste one our delicacies, they will feel an attachment to French culture and culinary arts, and more importantly our love for food”
Chef Christian Faure M.O.F.

French Pastry Festival LCB Chef Christian FaureIt’s been a busy week of sorts and the words seem like an understatement. There seems to be a buzz in culinary activity here recently and suddenly so much more to do as the year wraps up. The French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries through Sopexa, in partnership with the Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and Le Cordon Bleu launched a 3-week promotion dedicated to French pastry. I had the pleasure of attending a media event  for the French Pastry Festival as a part of the ongoing festival of bringing French delicacies to India.  It coincides with the four-day visit of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and first lady Carla Bruni, and celebrates France’s rich cultural and gastronomic tradition, bringing it to the Indian subcontinent.

Renowned Chef Christian Faure, M.O.F, Pastry Instructor & Director of Operations, Le Cordon Bleu, is conducting master classes on the art of French pastry techniques to perfect the skills of the chefs from the Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai, Bengaluru & Delhi.  The festival also offers the Indian audience a chance to taste authentic French pastries.

Le Cordon Bleu is considered to be the guardian of French culinary technique through its culinary programs that continue to preserve and pass on the mastery and appreciation of the culinary arts that have been the cornerstone of French gastronomy for over 500 years.

French Pastry Festival LCB Chef Christian FaureAbout his India visit, Chef Christian Faure said “I am delighted to be part of this training. Le Cordon Bleu, with 35 schools in 20 countries, is dedicated to the transmission of the culinary arts. It is a pleasure to see the enthusiasm and motivation of the Indian public to learn more about French cuisine and pastries.Blown Sugar WorkShop by LCB Chef Christian Faure, MOFThe chef demonstrated his pull sugar artistry, blown sugar work and talked us through making his signature dish “Pomme Rouge soufflé / Sugar soufflé red apple”. He shared thoughts and emotions that should go into creating a dessert for special occasions, keeping us regaled with his engaging style and humorous banter. Mainly conversing in English with a deep throat-ed French accent, stepping in with quick bursts in French as easily and beautifully as he displayed his art, he had his audience captivated!

Some thoughts he left me with …  ‘THINK; think with your heart!’, ‘Create an emotion through the dish, create an element of surprise, an expectation…’, ‘Spirit dominates matter, and that is what makes a Master Chef’, ‘20% of the dish goes on visual appeal, 80% on taste’.

It was a treat to be able to attend his coveted workshop, and a dream come true to get the opportunity to meet such a celebrated chef from LCB who creates dishes for Heads of States and for events like G20 summits.Blown Sugar WorkShop by LCB Chef Christian Faure, MOFHe introduced a special sugar now available in India from French brand DGF {marketed in India by Inducia}, a sugar for use in the culinary industry, one that doesn’t caramelize on being exposed to heat. DGF specializes in the supply of pastry and bakery products for professionals.French Pastry Festival LCB Chef Christian FaureThere was a dazzling array of desserts prepared by Chef Faure on display; his passion for fruit and light desserts outwardly visible. I expected to find ‘feet‘ here, and those were the first delights my eyes focused on. We had the pleasure of  sampling the spread as dessert after a really nice lunch of Tomato Soup, Sumac Chicken, Fish in  a Lemon & Dill Sauce, Spinach & Garlic Roasted Baby Potatoes, Saffron Risotto, Pasta in a Mushroom Sauce. I tried two of the desserts, in addition to the macaron of course; the crème bavaroise with  strawberry coulis, and the chocolate mousse cake. Both desserts spoke volumes of the chefs signature line. LIGHT, airy, mousse like and with a perfect balance of flavours! The toppings and garnishes caught my eye. Was indeed a celebration of French pastry complete with variety, colour, texture – something for everyone.

Le Cordon Bleu Workshop, DelhiCame back with a certificate of attendance, which I am clearly very proud to own.

The view from The Oberoi rooftop...beautiful, lush, green Delhi!

The view from The Oberoi rooftop...beautiful, lush, green Delhi!

Thank you Khyati from Sopexa for organising this, and thank you ‘The Oberoi‘ for hosting the event at your gorgeous property!

The other exciting event last week was a demo for T H E R M O M I X … a word that spells magic.  I‘ve been bitten, I’m smitten, and I’m in love again! Good heavens…what a dream machine.  The BMW of the culinary world is what it’s been referred to as. It has a heart of gold, almost a miniature aircraft engine in there, with even the proverbial black box! I crawled out from under a rock obviously because when I was contacted by Christina, the Thermomix lady in India, as I had no clue what Thermomix was. It was the Kitchen Aid that was on my wish-list, and this came as a bolt out of the blue; now it has me fascinated.

Take a look at what it can do…Mills, Grinds, Pulverises & Grates coffee beans, chocolate, all grains, pulses, sugar into icing sugar, all nuts, all spices, breadcrumbs; Kneads all breads, pizzas, pasta dough, pastries; Minces; Prepares drinks, salads, dressings, ice creams, cakes, pavlovas, jams,  cappuccino, caffè latte & ice coffee, yogurt; Cooks soups, sauces, curries,pasta,risotto,custard,baby food; Whips egg whites, cake batter, frostings, cream, butter;  Crushes ice {this sharpens the blades too}; Steams fish, vegetables, dumplings…

Thermomix Demo, Delhi, IndiaAll that in one appliance that will even wash itself! You might find that hard to digest, and quite unbelievable, which I did too … until I went for the demo. It does amaze with it’s ability to tirelessly and quickly carry out the above. It certainly lives up to it’s earned title of the world’s smallest, smartest kitchen.

In under 2 hours, we made ‘from scratch’ papaya sorbet {in 3 minutes!}, tomato soup {we ground dried lentils to act as a thickener}, Salad, Hollandaise sauce {including first flavouring the vinegar with spices}, roasting garam masala, making curry powder, a basic curry paste {cooking included}, and a vanilla custard. Did I forget kneading bread dough in a few minutes too? Yes, we did that too, and I came home and baked delicious bread with the dough which rose in the hours drive back home!

Thermomix BreadNow comes the hard part… wanting this magical machine, and counting my pennies because it does cost a packet!! It costs Rs 79,000/= in the Indian market, but then is a replacement for all kitchen appliances {which seem to fall lamely redundant in front of this mean machine}.  I think it’s an investment, a lifestyle change just waiting to happen! I’m seriously thinking of getting one, and am glad Mr PAB got me my DSLR some time back, else given a choice, I might have possibly gone for the Thermomix!French CookingI’ve been cooking up some yummies in my kitchen of late and with some stroke of luck, they seem to share some French origins! The first are these absolutely delicious Chicken, Mushroom and Roasted Pepper Julienes {said to be of French & Russian descent}. The second one is this ‘light as cloud and not to be missedMarie-Helene’s Apple Cake from Dorie Greenspans new book Around My French Table. Those posts should follow soon, to keep in tune with the French food festival!

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The French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries through Sopexa, in partnership with the Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and Le Cordon Bleu will be launching a 3-week promotion dedicated to French pastry.
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