Chocolate Challenge 2007

We invited three judges to weigh the successes of each chef’s inventiveness in marrying chocolate and maple syrup. The judges were celebrity guests Tom Griffith from WMUR-TV Channel 9, Master Baker Steve James of Portsmouth and food writer Rachel Forrest of Exeter. They looked and tasted, and they found one dessert that exceeded expectation on all counts - taste, presentation and inventiveness. All five entries are pictured here - each a gastronomic journey in its own right. We invite you to judge and taste for yourself any or all of these creations in the month of February at the respective restaurants. P.S. If you don’t see it on the regular menu, ask for it. Winner! Bistro Nouveau Claremont, (603) 542-8000 "Wow, wow, wow!" - Food writer Rachel Forrest Chef Doug Langevin pulled out all the stops with this deep chocolate truffle cake brushed with maple syrup and glazed with a chocolate ganache. The spoonful of white chocolate crème brûlée was topped with caramelized sugar, while more crunch was added by the maple peanut brittle. An Absolut vodka shooter was laced with Starbucks liquor, crème de cacao, maple syrup and a touch of cream.

The French Bistro Milford, (603) 249-9605 "The maple syrup mousse was delicious." - Master Baker Steve James Chef Zoltan Kosa created a Napoleon of flavors, with chocolate cake layered with a chocolate marquis, maple mousse and a lace cookie. The judges were impressed with the simple presentation and the lightness of the dish.

Michael Timothy’s Bistro and Jazz Bar Nashua, (603) 595-9334 "This is incredible." - Editor Rick Broussard Chef Michael Buckley and his pastry chef Michelle Splaine created this “Sweetheart’s Box” — a delicate dark-chocolate pound cake with six layers lined with a cherry-maple buttercream. A dark chocolate glaze, maple spritz cookie and pulled sugar topped the dessert, while a juicy chocolate cherry truffle was ready for plucking.

Aylmer’s Grille Jaffrey, (603) 532-4949 "Wonderful presentation." - Master Baker Steve James Chef/owner Aylmer Given baked maple-glazed bananas and pecans in a phyllo dough bag dressed with a splash of chocolate. The dish was served with a warm chocolate ganache sauce, a drizzle of maple glaze and garnished with a touch of fresh berries. Judges appreciated the use of locally-produced maple syrup.

Luca’s Mediterranean Café Keene, (603) 358-3335 "A taste for every palate." - Master Baker Steve James Chef/owner Luca Paris created a love fest with his “namorati Insieme.” These “lovers together” are a maple syrup terrine and chocolate panna cotta, enhanced by the tart cherry reduction and maple crème anglaise.
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