Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dessert Masterclass

We have been nudging Chef Nicolas of Caprice to teach us how to make some of his amazing desserts, and we were super excited that he spared one Saturday morning last month doing just that at his kitchen for a few of us. Though the lunch service wouldn’t start until a few hours away, the kitchen at Caprice was already getting busy, with much of the preparation well underway.

Our makeshift “classroom” was set-up at the kitchen counter so we didn’t interrupt too much of the regular preparation work, with everything set right on the table - our apron, pen and notepad, and well, champagne and coffee, so as the mis-en-place for all the ingredients for the three desserts Chef Nicolas planned to show us.

Okay, it’s probably more like a demonstration than a serious pastry-making class but overall a great learning experience for all of us nonetheless. Chef Nicolas began with the preparation of the figs, which was splashed with honey and popped in the oven, and while the figs were roasted, he began with the other desserts, glazing the white chocolate onto the namelaka cake which was to become part of the “Trilogie de Chocolat” dessert (the dish we managed to try the month before). The apple dessert was done in two ways – one dish was the soufflé, which Chef Nicolas whipped up the egg white with sugar in the kitchen processor, mixed in with the apple compote and baked in a ramekin, and on another plate, it’s prepared with crumbs, bits of fresh apple, apple crisp and a quenelle of vanilla Chantilly.

We then went back to our fig dessert, with Chef Nicolas setting up the turntable to brush the plate with the colorful coulis in a circular pattern, and began the assembly with other components he already prepared before we arrived. While we were trying on the apple desserts (as the soufflé was pulled from the oven and dusted with icing sugar before served), chef showed us the final steps of the chocolate dessert, dotting the plate and topping the white-chocolate glazed cake with three different kinds of chocolate ganache. And we did our part taking turns in some hands-on work, cutting, dipping, dotting or piping.

We also got a chance to listen to Chef Nicolas share about the thought process of how all these wonderful dessert creations came about, starting with the seasonal ingredients, then added on various components for tastes and textures ("no more than 3 different types of tastes and textures in every dish") and the presentation ("degustation first, then decoration"). That was very inspiring, particularly for me always wanting to get into chef’s mind to get the story behind each dish.

Thanks Four Seasons Hong Kong and Chef Nicolas for this unique experience - that was definitely a Saturday morning well spent and worth getting up early for.

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