Monday, December 6, 2010

Presenting Desserts at William Angliss

I was off on another self-improvement session on the weekend. Not content with spending a whole weekend close to Christmas making cheese, I devoted last Sunday to attending Presenting Desserts at William Angliss Institute of TAFE. My reason for attending this course is that I am fairly rubbish at food styling, so I thought that a course on presenting desserts would help me to learn some new skills to improve that.

Our teacher was Emma Mackay of Cakes of Our Lives, who can also be seen regularly on Huey's Kitchen (although I am never home to watch it). Here is Emma whipping up a mango coulis for our first dessert:

Emma is a great teacher in that she is bright and breezy and fun, and doesn't get narky if you make a botch of anything; given that the short courses are hobby courses for adults, not industry training, that is how it should be.

Emma and her trusty assistant, Lulu, had made many of the dessert components before class so that all we had to do was to learn how to put them together.

Our first dessert was a mango brioche tart with coconut sorbet. The tart consists of a brioche base, topped with a thin layer of frangipane, then slices of mango and baked. To plate up, we added a rocher (one spoon quenelle) of coconut sorbet on top of the tart, which was then sprinkled with nutmeg, and garnished the plate with mango coulis.

This one is Emma's:

Umm, and this one is mine:

My poor old rocher wouldn't come off the spoon, so I had to "man-handle" it to get it off the spoon - which of course resulted in indentations.

Next, we made biscotti for the purpose of plating up an expresso panna cotta dish with marscapone foam, panforte, biscotti, dried fruit compote and candied oranges:

Although the biscotti were a bit of a nightmare because they crumbled when being cut, this dessert was otherwise a cinch to make because it was just an assembly job from pre-made components. Emma says that this dessert is therefore perfect for functions. Note the serviette on the tray to stop the crockery from sliding.

After a refreshing lunch of creamy quiche and salad, we moved on to make a vacherin. The components of this dessert were unset turkish delight (in a piping bag), meringue, strawberry soup, fresh sliced strawberries, micro basil, guava sorbet, a snow egg, Persian fairy floss and a sugared rose petal.

This is Emma's, where you can clearly see the components:

And this is mine (taken from a glamorous angle so that you can't see where the sorbet doesn't quite meet the meringue):

The dessert was layered as follows: Place a dob of turkish delight on the plate and top with the meringue. Ladle in some strawberry soup and arrange sliced strawberries around the meringue in the soup, and top each slice with micro basil. Using a pastry ring as a mould, position guava sorbet on top of the meringue. Add another dob of turkish delight on top of the sorbet, then position a snow egg on top of it. Zhoush some Persian fairy floss and put on top of the snow egg, and crown it all with a sugared rose petal.

The sugared rose petals were easy enough to make - just organic rose petals painted with egg white then dipped in caster sugar. However, the snow eggs were a bit of a pain, as they had to be formed between two spoons like quenelles, and they had to be smooth to look good. One of mine had a hole in the bottom because I didn't press the Swiss meringue batter down hard enough into the spoon. The snow eggs were simply poached meringues, a la the Floating Islands dessert (bad memories there!).

We finished off with a chocolate plate, comprised of chocolate soil topped with a tuile that had been wrapped around a cannoli tube, then filled with choc-mint mousse and topped with micro- basil, sago "sushi" filled with pineapple and raspberry jelly and a chocolate collar to imitate seaweed and surrounded by chocolate sauce (applied with a squeeze bottle), a square of passionfruit jelly with a peanut butter truffle on top, a smear of strawberry sauce (applied with a pastry brush) topped with a glass biscuit filled with white chocolate granita and crowned with a slice of star anise that had been painted with red sugar syrup then dried, a chocolate "jammy dodger", topped with a maraschino cherry and sprinkled with icing sugar and surrounded by dots of raspberry coulis (applied with a syringe), and a square of opera cake topped with a gold dusted pistachio. We did this in pairs, and this is the handiwork of my awesome benchmate Claudia and I:

The parts that we made were the tuile and the glass biscuit (both from pre-prepared batter), the truffle (using prepared ganache scooped with a melon baller before being dipped in chocolate, dried, then dipped in cocoa) and the chocolate collar on the sago sushi, whereby melted chocolate was painted onto acetate strips the same height as the slices of "sushi", then wrapped around the sago, which was frozen to ensure a quick set for the chocolate.
The choc mint mousse and the chocolate sushi were not to my liking taste-wise, but I enjoyed the rest.

The hardest part of the day was having to eat as much of each dessert as you could on the run, as the components were not "take home" friendly. I never thought I'd say it, but sometimes, you can have too much dessert.

I enjoyed the class, and did learn some interesting new techniques to take on board. Thanks to Emma for being such a great teacher.


Gloria Baker said...

mmmm.! cakelaw look really lovely and yummy! gloria

yummychunklet said...

So fancy! I look forward to your future dessert styling photos!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

You should be very proud -they look brilliant and oh so couture! :D

Anonymous said...

Wow, those are some really professional arrangements! Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

What a neat class! It would be fun to learn these techniques and get to practice them.

stef said...

Wow those look impressive. A dessert styling class would quickly become a dessert eating class for me.

Agnes said...

Cool class! It looks like it was fun - but too much dessert? That is a sad thing to have to realise!

Emma @CakeMistress said...

That looks like such a practical handy and fun class to take. Have heard good things from the short courses at William Angliss. Must see what else they offer and sign-up!