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#1040 - Sophisticated Adult Desserts
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It's High Spring and the national Fancy Food shows are in full swing, which means it's time to get an update from Adam Borden, our food scout. This time Adam is regaling us with tales of Adult Desserts, which are very very intriguing.
Since the late 1990’s, adventurous chefs have been experimenting with a variety of seemingly disparate flavor combinations in an attempt to appeal to a more sophisticated adult palate. These unique creations are prevalent in dessert offerings, mixing sweet and savory with surprising results. Until recently, these products have been available only in high-end restaurants, but there are now a growing number of companies that are bringing these products directly to consumers.
Premium Ice Creams
Ice cream is typically made with milk, cream, eggs, sugar and flavorings. Over the years, manufacturers found ways to make it cheaper by using artificial ingredients such as guar gum and carrageenan which caused the flavor and 'mouth feel' of ice cream to slowly degrade. The late 1970’s saw a return to quality via the emergence of “super-premium” boutique brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs, with high butterfat content and low overrun (air).
When ice cream is churned, air is incorporated. If no air were added, the ice cream would be hard and stiff, like an ice cube. Manufacturers can control the amount of air added to the ice cream mixture before it freezes. This air, called overrun, can increase the volume of the ice cream by as little as 20% (typical of premium brands), or as much as 100% (typical of mass-market brands). More overrun produces a fluffy, light ice cream while less overrun produces a creamy, dense ice cream with little air and a lot of fat. Super-Premium Ice Cream has very low overrun and high fat content (up to 15% versus 10% for regular ice cream). In the latest figures available from Mintel and cited by the International Dairy Foods Association, production of ice creams classified as premium or super premium climbed by 17% between 2009 & 2010, although US ice cream production declined 1.2% overall.
One of the emerging companies catering to this growing trend of more sophisticated adult desserts is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (http://jenisicecreams.com/) based in Columbus, OH. Jeni’s introduces new flavors seasonally, most with unusual spicing or a touch of spirits. To celebrate the release of Sophia Coppola’s movie “Marie Antoinette,” Bauer created a collection of six flavors based on the French revolution including Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet. The ingredients are Bartlett pears, Riesling wine, sugar and tapioca Syrup.
Gelato is the Italian word for frozen. In common usage, Italians use the word gelato to mean a sweet treat that is served frozen. Like traditional ice cream, it is made with milk, cream, various sugars, and flavorings such as fresh fruit and nut purees. Gelato differs from traditional ice cream in that it is lighter, owing to lower butterfat content (gelato typically contains 4-8% butterfat). Depending on the recipe and the artisan making it, dairy based gelato contains 16-24% sugar vs. 12-16% in most US ice cream. Gelato’s sugar acts as an anti-freezing agent to prevent it from hardening solid.
Gelateria Naia (http://gelaterianaia.com/) is a small San Francisco producer that uses local, premium ingredients to make unusual artisan flavors which rotate with the growing seasons. They partner with St. George Spirits, a California distillery, to create their hauntingly smoky single malt whisky gelato (http://bargelato.com/flavors/single-malt-whiskey/).
Caramel dates from early 18th century France and is a beige to dark-brown confectionery product made by heating any of a variety of sugars. The process of caramelization consists of heating sugar slowly with water to around 170 °C (340 °F). As the sugar heats, the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic color and flavor.
Cassandra Chen quit her job as a currency trader to pursue a job in the kitchen. She uses locally sourced ingredients in her CC Made (http://www.ccmade.com/sauces) caramel sauces. Her Sel Gris (Grey Sea Salt) infuses the salt straight into the cream which dissolves the salt. As a result, one tastes the saltiness without the crunch of the crystals. Although she strives for as few processed ingredients as possible, Cassandra has added some corn syrup (not HFCS) to maintain the pliability of her product, something other sweeteners could not provide.