Sugar Galore!

Hello again, friends!

In a world full of sweets and other delectables, sweet foods have become one of the biggest pick-me-ups and cravings we have today. While a lot of sugary treats take shape in the form of candies, we often forget that sugar is not just meant to be eaten. In the pastry world, sugar is like a pastry chef’s clay – there are many forms pastry chefs can shape sugar into, whether it’s pulled sugar, blown sugar, cast/poured sugar, spun sugar, or rock sugar (all of these were used in the showpiece, below).

Fish Showpiece

Cast or poured sugar is cooked and poured into molds to achieve any desired shape used for the base of a showpiece, like the the green circle base at the bottom of the showpiece (above) and the red coral used to decorate the base. Rock sugar is used to make edible rocks due to its bubbling affect as it cools over crumpled-up foil to give the mass a textured look, similar to rocks. As for pulled or blown sugar, once the sugar mixture is cooked, it is poured onto a Silpat on the counter and left to cool shortly before it is kneaded onto itself. Spun sugar is when sugar is cooked and then a spun sugar tool (a tool made up of a base with nails and attached to a handle), is dipped into the sugar and then the tool with the sugar is whipped over two dowels for the cooled sugar to hang on. This is used to make decorative bird’s nests and for other decorative purposes, such as for cakes.

One of the products from the sugar mixture, the pulled sugar, is formed by literally pulling, cutting, and forming the sugar into a specific shape. The pulled sugar can be made more opaque and shinier by repeatedly folding and pulling the sugar mass (using multiple layers of gloves, as the mixture is extremely hot) until the desired opaqueness is reached. The other product, blown sugar, is made just after kneading by creating an open pocket over a pump and then pumping air into the sugar pocket until the desired size is reached, closing up the gap between the sugar and the pump, cutting the sugar off the pump and then heating up the loose ends to close off the gap.

There is a substitute for sugar when creating showpieces – this is called isomalt, primarily used for decorative purposes and gluing sugar pieces to the base when all of the elements are made and ready to assemble. While it is edible, isomalt is only mildly sweet compared to regular sugar and it is not used in baking like regular sugar is, so isomalt is only used for garnishes and decorative elements of a dessert. Isomalt can cook to a higher temperature without caramelizing and must be stirred while cooking to dissolve, unlike regular sugar (which caramelizes at a lower temperature and must not be stirred while it is cooking). Isomalt granules are also larger in size than granulated sugar granules.

The first time I worked with sugar was in lab, about three weeks ago, and I found it fairly easy to cook and mold the sugar. We also made spun sugar on the first day, which I loved. However, making pulled sugar and blown sugar is much trickier as it sets up so quickly. If I let the sugar sit too long it rapidly became unusable. With all of this being said, I was able to make the fish showpiece above, which is one of my favorite pieces so far.

Thank you all so much for staying with me throughout this journey I am on and I hope you enjoyed reading this post.

See you soon!

Sincerely,

Lisa

Modern Times, Modern Desserts

Hello again, friends!

In today’s food scene, so much more has been channelled into the food that we make, such as how we represent our family memories through holiday dishes or even if we just feel like being creative. From sticking to Grandma’s original recipe to updating a regional classic, food truly represents what we feel at the moment and how we feel during and after it’s being made. No matter the circumstances, food has become a huge form of art for some establishments, such as El Celler de Can Roca (www.molecularrecipes.com, pg. 1) in Girona, Spain (Google, pg. 1).

El Celler de Can Roca is owned by the three Roca brothers (Joan, Josep, and Jordi), with Joan as the chef (cellercanroca.com/timeline/cuina_a.html, pg. 1) and Jordi Roca as the pastry chef (http://www.traveller.com.au/el-celler-de-can-roca-girona-spain-what-its-like-to-eat-at-the-best-restaurant-on-the-planet-116epr, pg.1). El Celler de Can Roca focuses on being original with their dishes while keeping with the original concept of why their ancestors fed others (cellercanroca.com/timeline/cuina_a.html, pg. 1). With items such as Iberian Suckling Pig with Pepper Sauce and Garlic and Quince Terrine and Dublin Bay Prawns with Curry Smoke (pg. 1), modernist cuisine* runs through the veins of this restaurant. The menu changes according to the discovery of a new cooking technique or any other sort of inspiration, whether it’s a specific cuisine or an old memory (pg. 1). Over the course of 14 years (1995-2009), the restaurant has been awarded 3 Michelin stars (pg.1).

lactic-celler-bona-albert 

(The Lactic Dessert at El Celler de Can Roca)

One of the famous desserts at El Celler de Can Roca is what they call “Lactic Dessert” (http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-celler-de-can-roca-gerona?hrid=XoSi7e_MaIQe-eG2paiKIA&rh_type=phrase&rh_ident=festival_menu and http://elcellerdecanroca.bbva.com/en/blog/the-famous-lactic-dessert-by-el-celler-de-can-roca-and-rocambolesc, pg. 1). A heavily dairy-based dessert, it comprises of “ ‘curd foam, sheep milk ricotta ice cream, sheep milk custard, guava and cotton candy’ ” (http://elcellerdecanroca.bbva.com/en/blog/the-famous-lactic-dessert-by-el-celler-de-can-roca-and-rocambolesc, pg. 1). It is not only sold at the restaurant, but a variant of it using guava marmalade instead of slices is now a best-seller at Rocambolsesc, the restaurant’s partner ice-cream shop (pg. 1).

In the last Advanced Pastry lab I was in, we made chocolate mousse using only boiling water and dark chocolate to enhance the flavor of the chocolate instead of using primarily dairy and egg items for the base and whipped the water and chocolate by hand to aerate the mixture (which did not take very long). This was unique – the focus was on the flavor of the chocolate used, not the chocolate combined with sugar and dairy. Also, it defied the way mousse is traditionally made, showing that there may be no need for the longer process of whipping cream and egg whites to fold into the mousse for the light and airy texture of the mousse to be achieved.

I  was in a group that made a dessert with mint and chocolate elements to it, one of them being a modern version of the tuile cookie. This is completely different from a regular tuile cookie in which while normal tuiles would rely on egg whites and flour for structure, this tuile batter is cooked and uses slow-set pectin and a lot of sugar to create the structure of the cookie. Also, while traditional tuiles are used quickly to form a shape when warm, you leave this cookie to cool after baking and then break it into pieces to serve as a crunch factor for the dessert, since there was also a sorbet within the dessert.

Food has truly evolved, from its humble beginnings as a necessity to survive to becoming more of an event to the point where restaurants prepare dishes that involve the somewhat psychological way we eat food. Aside from visual presentation in which we “eat with our eyes first”, food has now come to play with our taste buds as well. From the textures to the tastes and even to the temperatures of each component, it is truly an art form in which there are (almost) endless possibilities.

Thank you all so much for staying with me. I hope you enjoyed this read.

See you later!

Sincerely,

Lisa

Resources:

“ricard67.” Ricard67’s review of El Celler de Can Roca. (2009, May 24). Retrieved March   07, 2016, from http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-celler-de-can-roca-gerona?hrid=XoSi7e_MaIQe-eG2paiKIA

Dessert by Jordi Roca on Trencadís [Photograph found in Art in a dish, El Celler de Can Roca]. (2012, August 09). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://blog.pordamsa.com/en/pordamsa-en/art-in-a-dish/

 – Pordamsa is the blog name.

El celler de can roca_cuina. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://cellercanroca.com/timeline/cuina_a.html

El celler de can roca_index_a. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://cellercanroca.com/menu/menu_a.html

  • Can Sunyer may be the author of this website (author unknown).

Girona – Google Search. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from https://www.google.com/search?q=girona

Modernist Cuisine in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. (2013, May 01). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://www.molecularrecipes.com/molecular-gastronomy/modernist-cuisine-worlds-50-restaurants/

Smith, O. (2015, April 09). One-year wait: Eating at the ‘best restaurant on the planet’ Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://www.traveller.com.au/el-celler-de-can-roca-girona-spain-what-its-like-to-eat-at-the-best-restaurant-on-the-planet-116epr