The history of New Hampshire is irrevocably linked to the progression of grand hotels that dotted our state near the turn of the century. The grand hotel experience involved a long journey, a lengthy stay and excellent cuisine with a view to match.
Today, only four of the more than a dozen original hotels live to keep our connection with that glorious, grand style of living. It will not take a week’s journey or a king’s ransom to catch a glimpse or even better, a taste, of that past. The views remain pristine, the accommodations are awe-inspiring and the cuisine, along with first-class service, feeds the soul a heaping serving of pleasure.
We visited The Balsams, the prince of the Great North Woods; the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort, a grand lady at the foot of our tallest mountain; the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa, sitting atop a hill north of Whitefield with views all around; and the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa, tightly hugging the coastline.
We asked each to prepare a predominately chocolate dessert, uniquely for us and available to you during the month of February.
Unfold your starched white linen napkin as we present to you the results of our Chocolate Challenge 2006.
Elegantly presented, this simple but disarmingly charming trio of hot chocolate, marshmallows and a cookie hark back to childhood. But if only mother had formed fresh marshmallow kisses with egg white, topped rich hot chocolate with a white chocolate foam and added a crispy Florentine chocolate chip cookie atop a rich chocolate mousse.
Created by Pastry Chef Perrie Purcell, under the executive direction of Chef Dan Dumont
Wentworth by the Sea
Valrhona Tuxedo Cake
Your first question will be, “How did they do this?” This chocolate midnight cake and vanilla sponge cake is layered with Valrhona chocolate buttercream and then glazed with a Valrhona ganache. The cake is assembled with a few tricky cuts to create this puzzling design. On the side, almond Rocca candy is chopped up and folded into bittersweet chocolate ice cream. Like all the cakes created at The Balsams, it is not too sweet and the presentation is impeccable.
Created by Pastry Chef Jennifer Beach, under the direction of Master Baker Steve James
Mango Chocolate Mousse
This smooth, chocolatey mousse using the mellow flavors of Schokinag chocolate is accompanied and well complemented with a mango-apricot mint salad. The elegant mousse is served in a martini glass, rimmed with grated chocolate. The mango for the salad is grilled and caramelized, then dusted with a five-spice powder. The apricots are caramelized and seasoned with crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne. Adding another chocolate component, a deep chocolate tart drizzled with icing, caresses the salad.
Created by Beth Rollins, under the direction of Executive Pastry Chef Cheryl Emerson
The Mount Washington Hotel & Resort
Route 302, Bretton Woods
Mountain View Chocolate Trio
A trio of desserts to please any pair of sweethearts. First, a chocolate hazelnut pot de crème with a silky smooth hazelnut liqueur, dark chocolate and a spiced Chantilly cream is topped with a creamy white chocolate cannoli. Second, a few bits of Godiva white chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate shell and a hazelnut and graham crust will quiet your lust for a trip to the Cheesecake Factory. And finally, a milk chocolate ganache cake topped with the chef’s signature garnish, a rose sculpted from a beet (remember, that’s where sugar came from) will flood your spoon with warm, soft chocolate.
Created by Executive Chef Kevin Cottle
Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa
This article appears in the February 2006 issue of New Hampshire Magazine