Chocolate Challenge 2009

We asked two bakery cafés to present us with a chocolate dessert that was beautiful, wonderfully chocolate and incorporated a “secret” ingredient of ginger.

We impaneled four judges with serious food backgrounds to taste, comment and proclaim a winner.

Jennifer Beach – WinnerExecutive Pastry Chef
Popovers on the Square

Jennifer joined the Popovers team in May 2006. Prior to that she was the pastry chef at The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch. She spent 14 years at The Balsams learning her craft under the tutelage of Certified Master Baker Stephen James. She has traveled throughout the United States, working at many other prestigious resorts, including The Broadmoor Hotel, The Pinehurst Resort and The Duquesne Club. Jennifer has been an associate instructor for the N.H. Community Technical College in Berlin and has won numerous medals in culinary competitions throughout New England, and was named “Chef of the Year” in both 1994 and 2005 by the Northern N.H. Chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

Popovers on the Square
8 Congress St.
Portsmouth, (603) 431-1119
www.popoversonthesquare.comSteamed Chocolate Gingerbread PuddingWith vanilla and chocolate sauces, macerated berries, almond ginger lace cookie and vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy this dessert at Popovers on the Square through February.

Judges’ Comments

Simple and elegant presentation — pudding was nicely balanced on plate and garnishes were not over processed. Adding ginger to the ice cream would have tied this dessert together even better.
— Chef Tom Puskarich

No matter how the components paired on a fork, it all works — warm pudding/cold ice cream, crisp cookie/soft pudding, sweet sauces/tart berries.
— Barbara Rodgers

Wonderful collection of taste sensations and textures. Loved the soft, melt-in-your-mouth interior with a pronounced spice overlay, but credit to the chef for not allowing the ginger to overpower.
— Frisky Stal

Nice verticality and attractive treatment of chocolate and vanilla sauce on plate. Lace cookie was a nice touch.
—Barbara Lauterbach

Jessilyn Wojcik – Runner UpPastry Chef
Madeleines, Elegance Defined

Jessilyn is originally from Merrimack, but after living in Guatemala, Florida and Rhode Island, she now calls New Hampshire home again. She attended Johnson and Wales University, earning two degrees in Baking and Pastry Arts. While at JWU she was privileged to work with Colette Peters in New York City. This experience allowed her creativity to blossom. As Jessilyn says, “No two cakes are ever really the same. They may have similar components, but they are all unique.”

Madeleines Elegance Defined
124 N. Main St., Concord, (603) 224-5353
www.madeleinesed.comGinger MousseWith chocolate ganache and genoise cake.

Enjoy this dessert at madeleines, elegance defined in concord through February.

Judges’ Comments

Ginger mousse delivered the goods — it was light and creamy with good body. Thoughtfully composed, but looks a little crowded on the plate.
— Chef Tom Puskarich

Ginger mousse is piquant and melts in creaminess. Ginger pieces a bit over-candied, but tasty.
— Barbara Rodgers

Very strong ginger taste to the mousse and the strawberries offered a respite from the heavy rich, very chocolately ganache. I feel the liquid chocolate spots didn’t add anything but more chocolate.
— Frisky Stal

Genoise and ganache base deliver the chocolate punch and the mousse is delightfully gingery.
—Barbara Lauterbach
Steamed Chocolate Gingerbread PuddingWith vanilla and chocolate sauces, macerated berries, almond ginger lace cookie and vanilla ice cream

Steamed Puddings
Makes 10 four-ounce portions

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons gingerbread cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons toasted bread crumbs
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons rum
1 cup toasted ground almonds
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
Butter and sugar molds, set aside
Use four-ounce ramekins, rub butter inside and dust with granulated sugar.
Set aside.

Combine crumbs, cream and vanilla and let sit at least 15 minutes. Melt chocolate over double boiler and keep warm. Cream butter and sugar until light, then add egg yolks slowly into mixture scraping down sides of the bowl. When mixed, add chocolate, rum and almonds and cream mixture that had been set aside.

Whip whites with sugar until stiff, then fold gently into chocolate mixture.

Pipe or scoop pudding mixture into prepared ramekins and bake in water bath at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes, then gently unmold onto parchment paper.

Almond Lace Cookies
with Candied Ginger

1 cup pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 teaspoons candied ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

Combine first set of ingredients and cream until smooth. Fold in almonds and ginger.

Pipe 1/2-inch thick strips the length of a sheet pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Remove from oven and cut with knife to desired shapes and sizes. Can be molded onto dowel for a curl. Let cool.

Candied Ginger

Peel and thinly slice fresh ginger root. Place in sauce pan and cover with cold water. Simmer gently about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain water. Weigh the cooked ginger and measure equal amounts of sugar and ginger. Add 2 tablespoons water with sugar and ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until liquid is almost fully evaporated. Toss ginger in granulated sugar to coat.

Macerated Berries

Slice fresh strawberries and toss with granulated sugar and small squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Let sit about 10 minutes. Add raspberries right before plating. Sprinkle with minced candied ginger.

Chocolate Sauce

1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt

Bring corn syrup, sugar and cream to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate. Mix until smooth. Add water, vanilla and salt last.

Vanilla Sauce

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar and starch together. Add milk slowly to make a slurry. Add yolk. Set aside.
Bring milk and cream to boil; slowly add slurry, pouring mixtures back and forth and cook until thick. Add the vanilla last. Cool over ice bath.

Jennifer Beach
Executive Pastry Chef
Popovers on the Square

Assisted by Melissa Chapman
Pastry CookOur Judges
Tom Puskarich
Chef/Owner Z Food and Drink

Barbara Lauterbach
Center Harbor
Food writer and author of several cookbooks, including
“The Splendid Spoonful”
Chronicle Books

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers
Food and Travel Writer
“New Hampshire Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places”

Frisky Stal
Serious foodie and food writer
Principal Stal-Mclane, Inc. AdvertisingMore resources for your just dessertsChocolatiers with cafés
Have your cake and chocolate, too.

Burdick’s Café
47 Main St., Walpole
(603) 756-3701

Enjoy delicate pastries in the restaurant or the adjoining café with a potent cup of hot chocolate. Sample signature chocolate mice or the cute new penquins. Take a bag of discounted blemished chocolates for the ride home.

Cafe Van Otis
341 Elm St., Manchester,
(603) 627-1611

Enjoy soups and salads in the café before you shop for chocolates in hundreds of shapes and shades in the store. The smooth Swiss fudge melts in your mouth and your hand. New is a line of high-end candy bars.

Swan Chocolates
436 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack

Order online or sit with coffee and a gooey hot fudge cake. Great gelato, too.

Le Rendez Vous French Bakery Café & Belgium Chocolate
146 Main St., Colebrook
(603) 237-5150

Bakers Marc Ounis and Verlaine Daeron came from Paris to open a real French café that would be warm and inviting. Enjoy delicate pastries or confections made with Belgian chocolate.

Bakery Cafés

The Dutch Epicure
141 Route 101A, Heritage Plaza
Amherst, (603) 879-9400

Fine pastries made with Belgian chocolate.

Frederick’s Pastries
Amherst and Bedford
Amherst: (603) 882-7725
109 Route 101A

Bedford: (603) 647-CAKE
25 South River Road

Frederick’s Pastries is a specialty cake and pastry shop. They are known for their custom wedding cakes, classical tortes, old world pastries and cakes for all other occasions.

Riverwalk Café and Coffee House
35 Railroad Sq., Nashua
(603) 578-0200

Freshly roasted and brewed coffee to savor along with a fresh apple strudel. If you must, soups and panini sandwiches are available, too.

Miller’s Café and Bakery
16 Mill St., Littleton
(603) 444-2146

Historic riverfront location on the Ammonoosic offers views of the cascades and the 300-foot covered bridge. Great deck dining in summer. Cupcakes, cookies and pastries made from scratch are the order of the day, along with soup and a sandwich.

Umpleby’s Bakery
3 South St., Hanover
(603) 643-3030

A savory pork pie for lunch and then onto a lemon tart, passion fruit cake or a dacquoise, with layers of almond meringue and chocolate mousse masked with mocha buttercream.

Kristin’s Bistro and Bakery Downtown
28 Washington St., Keene
(603) 352-5700

Stop in for exotic coffee flavors, the quiche of the day and fresh Danish pastries.

Bread & Chocolate
29 S Main St., Concord
(603) 228-3330

Chocolate bread? Yes, and great eclairs and chocolate pudding cake, too.


Ava Marie Chocolates
43 Grove St., Peterborough

(603) 924-5993

The Noiret has a red wine ganache made with Candia Vineyard’s Noiret red wine in a dark chocolate shell.

The Chocolatier
27 Water St., Exeter
(888) 246-5528

They offer loads of confections, but try their popcorn with a combination of caramel, marshmallows, almonds, white, milk and dark chocolate and other “secret” ingredients.

Unbridled Chocolates, LLC
135 Main St. (Rte. 101) Marlborough, (603) 876-9111

Their aphrodisiac chocolates have seven natural herbs in a soft chocolate ganache coated with Belgian chocolate. What’s not to love?

Chocolate Bars

Order these beautiful bars online, each named for the geography of the region.

Stainer Chocolate

A variety of high-quality chocolate bars made from chocolate grown in a variety of regions including Ecuador and a 100-percent cacao bar from Venezuela. Distributor is in Littleton.

Sanborn’s Fine Candies
Rte. 1, 293 Lafayette Rd.
Hampton, (603) 926.5061

The only chocolate shop on the Web that lets you create a custom assortment of chocolates. They make custom molds, too.

Categories: Food & Drink