Into the Forest…

One of my favourite things to do sometimes is to take classic flavour combinations and do a little spin on them. To be honest, I’m one of those who believes in the saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. I love the classics and oftentimes when it comes to choosing flavours of cakes or pastries to eat, I usually go for the ‘originals’ – plain New York cheesecake, vanilla crème pâtissière-filled profiteroles, the original lotus paste mooncakes instead of the snazzy champagne truffle ones… I guess familiarity breeds comfort!

Then once in a while, my mind starts thinking of how one flavour might work well with another, and if I add this ingredient to that, perhaps that will enhance it even more! Sure, the classics are awesome but maybe, just maybe a little play on it won’t do it any harm. Old is gold but could a revamped version be… A diamond? Hmm…

Anyway, a few weeks ago, Drool Cook Club carried out an Instagram contest where home cooks and bakers had to highlight Chocolate as the main ingredient in their dish. My brain kicked into gear and while it was easy thinking of the usual chocolatey items – think: Chocolate cake, Chocolate mousse, Chocolate tart… I began wondering about how I could do that extra bit more while keeping Chocolate the star.

Now, it’s been years since I left Le Cordon Bleu and since leaving, the number of plated desserts I have done can probably be counted on one hand. A big shame I know! And yet, I was determined to undertake a plated dessert and a poke around my kitchen pointed me in the direction of a Blackforest.

After all, I still had my jar of homemade Kirsch cherries and I was adamant not to keep them sitting around too much longer.

Rather than go with a traditional Chocolate Sponge soaked with a Kirsch syrup, layered with fresh Whipped Cream and studded with Kirsch Cherries, I decided that a Chocolate Mousse might work instead. No, make that a Chilli Chocolate Mousse… With a White Chocolate Lime Cremeux, and Kirsch Cherry Compote all enclosed in a tempered Dark Chocolate ball.

So I got to work and…

This happened.

The chocolate ball wasn’t as refined as I’d have liked but I decided to cut myself some slack since it’d been a while anyway. I brushed some chocolate ganache on the plate, made a bed of Chilli Lime Shortbread Crumble for the Chocolate Ball to sit on, and within the ball was a layer of the Chilli Chocolate Mousse, a Kirsch-soaked Chocolate Sponge, White Chocolate Lime Cremeux, a bit more Chilli Chocolate Mousse, and then the Kirsch Cherries Compote.

Then of course, we had to dig in.

As you can see, it wasn’t the neatest of affairs but it actually tasted really good. A hint of spicy heat threaded through the dark chocolate but the creaminess of the white chocolate and the refreshing acidity of the citrus helped tame the gentle flame. The boozy hit played well against the sweet, fruity cherries and dark chocolate mousse. I loved the buttery chilli-lime crumble which not only provided texture and crunch, but served to highlight the flavours already present within the dessert.

So it was quite a hit to those who tried this spin on the Blackforest – One that I am now calling ‘The Twisted Blackforest’. The Instagram contest was fun and reminded me that I do have the capacity to be creative in stretching my baking skills instead of sticking to the cakes and pastries that have become part of my daily grind.

And yes, as much as the old classics are comforting to our tastebuds and our bellies, jazzing them up can also be an experience in its own. We can dress them up all we want, but at the heart of it all, their essense remains unchanged.

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