Thursday, August 24, 2006
What to Do With My Rings?
I bought these lovely dessert rings at Dehillerin. Once again, I don't know which exact recipe inspired me to get these, but it was probably this blog and this one that made me dream I could create beautiful little jewels of desserts.
However, I haven't had such great results so far. First, I made little chocolate cakes (molten) in them. Perhaps I filled them too high, but they sunk after cooling, giving them a fold in the belly that was not pretty (no photo).
Then I tried to make chocolate shells, as I like "sculpting" with chocolate (read playing). I thought I could fill these with a combination of dacquoise and chocolate mousse that would be scrumptious and wouldn't require any gelatin to stand firm as it would be propped up by the chocolate shell.
I tempered chocolate (thank goodness I had the sense not to waste Valrhona on this practice run), then spread it on strips of rhodoïd plastic.
I then wrapped the chocolate strips around the rings and let them solidify. I tried one attempt with the plastic inside the ring, but that was clearly a mistake as it didn't hold a nice circular shape. Another mistake I made was not waiting long enough for the chocolate to firm up on the strip before wrapping. The first ring I wrapped had chocolate pooling around its foot. Which was not only unsightly but made it impossible to peel off the plastic without breaking the whole thing (see the chocolate shards below).
Sigh, the result looks like something from a beginner's pottery class. There's holes, finger prints, and worst of all, the rings didn't stay closed as the chocolate dried so there is no way they could hold any mousse.
Oh, I could perhaps improve my technique and learn to glue the rings shut with chocolate... but I'm a bit discouraged at this point. I think I'll stick to wrapping things in chocolate as I did with this cake, rather than trying to create stand-alone chocolate containers.
Finally the greatest success I've had so far with these rings was not what I had in mind when I bought them: as a tool for plating salads.
I have very little imagination when it comes to first courses in a meal. I almost always serve some sort of salad. The rings gave me a new way to present my old standby appetizer. Despite its simplicity, I will glorify this little salad by including it as a recipe, since I definitely need to beef up the selection of savory dishes on this blog.
Recipe: Mediterranean Salad
I grilled some slices of eggplant on a stove-top grill after first brushing both faces of each slice with a bit of olive oil.
I made a dressing of balsamic vinegar, fleur de sel (salt), olive oil and added a clove of garlic to marinate for a few hours. I then discarded the clove.
I placed a ring in each plate, and layered arugola, baby spinach, basil, thinly sliced tomato and mozzarella, with a fewteaspoonss of dressing between some of the layers. I topped each ring with a grilled slice of eggplant.
I then took off the rings and snipped off anything that was sticking out too much. I sprinkled some fleur de sel on top, and decorated with a basil leaf.
I tried to drizzle aestheticc drops of vinaigrette on the side of the dish but the dropper I used from our toddler's fever medecine would get stuck and squirt out long unsightly streaks of dressing across the plate. (She's going to wonder why her medicine tastes of balsamic vinegar).
So, the salad's OK. But I haven't given up trying to make cylindrical desserts. One day, maybe one day, I'll be able to make desserts that look as beautiful as this, this, or this.
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Update Nov. 2007: I have since found a dessert to make with my rings! I posted about it here.