Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Chocolate Creme Chiboust Fail (and a giveaway)

Posted by osakaben41 on January 26, 2010

The pre-fail shot

There have been a few baking fails along the way, most of which I try to ignore and pretend they never happened.  Except of course when they’re really spectacular and noteworthy.  Under those standards have I got a whopper for you.

The idea was to recreate another Johnny Iuzzuni creation, which Aran did so beautifully some time ago  (how is it that every time I get inspired it turns out she’s already beat me to it?).  It’s a chocolate tart shell filled with a lemon custard and topped with a Chocolate Chiboust (Chocolate meringue stabilized with some gelatin, baked ever so briefly).  Having never had chocolate and lemon together I was initially skeptical, but there are some examples out there to look to.The initial fail was early and tragic in its own right, more so because I really should have known better.  Long story made short, tart dough is supposed to be light and tender, not rubbery as play dough and about as tasty.  I had overworked the dough to the point of NASA level elasticity, and ended up dumping the whole batch.  Furthermore, my tart rings were far to shallow for this recipe, so I went instead with some mini brioche molds.

For what it’s worth, the lemon custard worked out just great, and the chiboust was pretty easy to put together.  As an unexpected bonus, the rounds I had cut out and placed atop my tarts spread out nicely and filled in the flutes of my mold like they were born that way.  Johnny actually calls for plating this with an Earl Grey Jelly, which to be honest sounded at first just downright disgusting, but if I had gone this far already, why not all the way.


The one little thing that went wrong however, was in trying to extract these from the molds too early.  The shells were still warm (and pliant), and the cream hadn’t had a chance to fully set.  Half the shell stuck to the tin, leaving me with what I imagine a slump or a fool is supposed to look like.

What I will say though is this, it tasted fan-frigin-tastic.  The Earl Grey jelly added a sophisticated touch to an otherwise already interesting plate, and something about the creamy custard paired with the pillowy meringue just really worked.  This blog has been mostly about trying to put together stuff that looks good online, but given a choice, I’d rather have it taste good and look like a mess than the reverse.

As a side note, The Gastronomers Bookshelf is hosting a giveaway of Momofuku by David Chang (thanks for the heads up Sweet Tooth).  Simply stated, any book favorably compared to Ad Hoc or the Fat Duck needs to be taken seriously.  To qualify we’re asked to name the most important food book in our lives.  Tall order that, and in some cases, depends on the day.  There have been some great ones over the years, with Mark Bitmans How to Cook Everything getting me through college, to Michale Rhulmans chef series about studying at the CIA.  Anthony Bourdains Kitchen Confidential was like a culinary On the Road, and Heat by Bill Buford made me want to quit my job and move to Tuscany.  As for cookbooks, I’m always flipping through Charlie Trotter’s Desserts, and Johnny Iuzzuni’s Dessert Fourplay for inspiration.  But if pressed, the one book that changed it all for me, that stands out, stained and dog-eared on my shelf, has to be Wayne Gisslens Professional Baking.  Finding this at Borders by accident one day set me off on this strange dessert obsession that I don’t see (or particularly want) any way out of.  They say people may find good books, but Great books find you, and so it was with this one.  Not that there was anything unique about any of the recipes contained, it’s a text-book after all.  But reading it and randomly flipping through the glossy photographs got me thinking about food and pastries in a whole new way.  Yup, this is the one that made me the expanding, sugar obsessed freak I am today.

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