Hot chocolate. No, not the stuff in the mug with marshmallows, but delectable chocolate desserts with a touch of chile pepper.We challenged four locally based, regional chains to send a chef to create a dessert presentation that spoke to chocolate lovers loudly, but at the same time whispered gently with a touch of heat.
Each of the restaurants featured here will have their entry on the menu for the month of February, so feast with more than your eyes and be warmed from the inside out.
Our Challenge: Create a dessert for chocolate lovers that has a touch of heat from chile pepper.Our Restaurants:T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s
Executive Chef Nicole
Nicole has a culinary degree from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. She is responsible for developing menus for all the T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s restaurants throughout the state.
www.t-bones.comLakehouse Grille, Meredith
A member of the Common Man family
Executive Chef Allen Zick
Allen is the executive chef for Camp and the Lakehouse Grille, both in Meredith. He has been in the industry for 24 years, traveling through Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania before settling in Meredith where he focuses on creative infusions of American cuisine.
Fratello’s and the Homestead
Chef Paris Landry
Paris has worked as a pastry chef and chocolatier and now spends her time in the kitchen of Chef Timothy Littlefield at the Homestead Restaurant in Bristol. It is with his support and the encouragement of the rest of the company that she has proudly entered this competition.
www.fratellos.comOur Judges:Chef/Instructor Liz Barbour of Hollis offers cooking demonstrations that help demystify the cooking process by focusing on cooking instruction, knife skills and the healthy benefits of cooking at home while using fresh, local whole food ingredients. Her Web site, www.thecreativefeast.com, lists her schedule and a few of her favorite recipes developed for their ease and great tastes.Barbara Lauterbach of Center Harbor is a cookbook author and serious foodie who teaches in France each year. She is a member in longstanding of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, as well as Les Dames d’Escoffier Internationale and the New England Culinary Guild. Her latest book is “The Splendid Spoonful — From Custard to Crème Brûlée,” published by Chronicle Books. www.barbaralauterbach.comHillary Davis, from the Monadnock Region, is a serious foodie also. Along with her mother, she has written the “Two Blondes Guide to Restaurants in Southern New Hampshire” and a “Follow Me” food guide to lower Manhattan. Hillary has lived abroad for more than 20 years and is fluent in French. Her latest venture is creating new apps for the iPhone.White Chocolate Jalapeno Butter CakeExecutive Chef Nicole
T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s"The dipped almonds are a very nice touch presentation-wise” —BarbaraFive days earlier, Chef Nicole added a few jalapeno chiles to the sugar used in this pound cake. White chocolate was used in the cake batter and almond extract and cayenne was added to the fresh strawberry topping. Almonds dipped in milk chocolate were added as garnish.Judge comments: Barbara — The cake had an excellent texture, but lacked sufficient heat from the jalapeno. Overall, a pleasing combination of flavors. Liz — Very pretty presentation to see during the winter months. Would have liked to have seen fresh strawberries drizzled with an infused jalapeno syrup. Hillary — The white chocolate cake was redolent with the flavors of butter and had a great aroma.Mexican Chocolate Creme BrûléeExecutive Chef Allen Zick
Lakehouse Grille, one of The Common Man Family of Restaurants
Meredith"This was my favorite dessert — I’d have gone back and eaten more. It was surprising — I almost laughed in delight.There was a wonderful kick to the top and a homey pudding underneath.” —HillaryChef Zick started with a touch of Mexican chocolate in a crème brûlée. Each dish was dusted with ancho, chipolte and chile powder and then heated with a torch to create the signature crispy top. As the top cooled, a signature Z made from
chipotle-infused dark chocolate was slipped on top. A light dusting of salt was a finishing touch. Accompanying the dish is a strawberry daiquiri to cool the palate.
Judge comments: Barbara — Plenty of heat in the chocolate “Z,” but would have liked more chocolate in the brûlée. Liz — Lovely presentation and the shooter is a nice addition. Caramel topping had a nice crackle, but the “Z” chile flavor was a bit overpowering. I would have preferred the shooter to be less sweet. Hillary — Nice contrasts of flavors and textures, from crunchy and spicy on top to soft, cool and mellow inside.WinnerGilded PleasurePastry Chef Paris Landry
Fratello’s and The Homestead"When you’re designing a recipe, everything counts and she clearly got that”Chef Landry went for the Mexican heat theme with a dessert molded like a Mayan temple. A thin, tempered chocolate shell enrobes a layer of spiced chocolate ganache. Inside is a cool and creamy orange- and cinnamon-flavored cheesecake center. A light dusting of edible gold powder was the finishing touch.
Judge comments: Barbara — Chocolate vanilla swirls very attractive. Center with orange and the touch of cinnamon was delicious and a nice counterpoint to the ganache. Liz — A pleasure for the chocolate lover. Hillary — Very well balanced use of chiles in relation to other ingredients.Gilded Pleasure
Created by pastry chef Paris Landry
Orange-scented Cheesecake 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ 2 tablespoons sour cream
½ 1/4 cup white sugar
½ 1/4 cup water
1/2 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 orange, zest and juice reserved
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Bring sugar, water and gelatin to a boil for 3 minutes until well dissolved. Cool slightly. Whip cream cheese and sour cream until light and fluffy.Beat orange zest, juice and vanilla into cream cheese mixture. Then beat in gelatin mixture.Pour into 1-inch pyramid molds. Chill 2-3 hours. Freeze overnight to make unmolding easier. Yields 24 centers. Use excess filling to make a cheese cake for your family by pouring it into a pre-made graham crust before you chill it.Spiced Dark Chocolate Ganache 12 ounces dark chocolate chips
11 ounces heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/4 cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon vanillaBring heavy cream to a simmer. Add spices and allow to bloom in cream for one minute.Pour cream over chocolate chips and allow to sit for one minute. Gently stir cream into chocolate. Stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared 2 1/2" pyramid mold.Preparing MoldsCoat 2 1/2" molds with two thin layers of tempered chocolate and allow to set.Tempering ChocolateMelt the dark chocolate in a double boiler while stirring to ensure a uniform temperature.Once the chocolate has fully melted and reached a temperature of over 105°F, remove it from the heat. Add a piece of unmelted chocolate to provide the seed crystals. This piece can be as big as 2 ounces (if you’re melting a sizeable amount of chocolate) or can be chopped up into a few smaller pieces.Stir until the chocolate’s temperature enters the tempering range, 88-90°F. The chocolate should be kept at this temperature until used.To assemble final dessert, fill chocolate shell halfway with Spiced Dark Chocolate Ganache, then insert Orange-scented cheesecake center. Then top with more ganache and finally cap with a thin layer of tempered chocolate.Allow finished dessert to chill in mold for at least one hour. Unmold and dust with gold dust.Chef note: Be creative, this is a cold-set dessert and as such, is forgiving. If you don’t find molds that you like, try building the dessert in layers in ramekins or other small decorative dishes. Enjoy.Silicon molds are available at www.foodservicewarehouse.com
This article appears in the February 2010 issue of New Hampshire Magazine