Monday, December 5, 2011

Speaking French with a Southern Accent

On their way to the Main House.
 At last, the cooking school I've been waiting for all year, since becoming the pastry chef for the second time at Blackberry Farm, is here! Chef Francois Payard ( is here in east Tennessee!  Every time I've been to New York since becoming a pastry chef, I've gone to Payard Patisserie on Lexington to get a box of macaroons.  The pastry display cases lining the entryway were just like the pastry shops in Paris, full of beautiful, precisely-made pastries.  He's famous for his macaroons, and they are amazing.  The shop on Lexington closed, sadly, but I see from the web that he has two new bakeries open in New York.
All plated up and ready to go!
   I didn't find out until Saturday night at 10:30 that I'd be making the dessert for Sunday night, and I had no idea what to make.  It came to me early in the morning that I should combine something quintessentially Southern with something iconically French.  I don't care for Chess Pie, but I've seen a photo somewhere recently of a chess pie made of piped custard, rather than the baked kind.  I pulled out my notebooks from school and saw the St. Honore, a dessert made to honor the patron saint of pastry chefs.  He was the seventh bishop of Amiens in the 6th century.  I have no idea why he's our patron saint.  He never did any actual recorded baking, and his name is invoked against drought.  But, hey!  Bless his heart!  He's got a really cute little dessert!
  It's sweet pie crust topped with a ring of pate au choux, the stuff cream puffs are made of.  That is baked, then filled with chibouste, a cream made of pastry cream and Italian meringue.  In this version, I put some of our peach preserves on the very bottom and topped it with sorghum and Jack Daniel's flavored chibouste.  The cream puffs are filled with pastry cream made with Anson Mills corn flour, since there's cornmeal in Chess Pie, and more vanilla-infused Jack Daniel's.  Then they're dipped in caramel, an long, hot and possibly painful process, then attached to the rim of the cake.  The cream on top is piped with a special piping tip designed only for this dessert.  The schmear on the plate--that's a technical term--is pureed peach preserves.
  Et voila!  A dessert combining both my adopted Southern culture and my French education!  Today is the class lunch after Joseph's demo, and I'll be making Chocolate & Hazelnuts, a stacked torte of choco-nutty cake, Gianduja chocolate, tempered dark chocolate, chocolate mousse and Gianduja ganache.  It's yummy and pretty.  I'll probably make some orange sorbet to go with it, since there's orange zest in the cake, and the tortes are quite small.
  Chef Payard has his cooking demo tomorrow and his desserts will be served tomorrow night at the finale.  I'll be helping him make everything today and tomorrow, so I'd better get up and at it!


Theresa said...

OMG, I didn't think I could be hungry this early in the morning, but you've got my sweet tooth craving one of those amazing desserts!
Have a grand day.

LA said...

Please let us know what HE says about your sweet concoction!!!! Saints preserve all looks wonderful!

Tina J said...

It all looks wonderful!