Pear, Chocolate & Caramel...

certain flavors go quite well when paired together and such is the case in this modern spin on a classic French dessert preparation. A Bavarian cream, or Bavarois as the French call it, is a rich yet light pastry cream concoction used in various layered desserts (trifles, parfaits, charlottes, millefeuilles etc) and as an ethereal filling for layered cakes and gateaux. In the turn towards new preparations and individual style dessert presentations back in the late 80's and early 90's, the bavarois started to appear as itself, as a featured item with it's own embellishments, sauces and garnishes. What was once a filling,(and usually not venturing much beyond the simple flavors of vanilla, chocolate, chestnut or nuts and coffee) had been replaced and transcended into flavorful and light renditions with a multitude of fresh flavors. Raspberry and Anise Hyssop, Pear and Caramel, Rose and Lychee, Lemon Verbena and Stonefuits led the way. Even the proportions of the structure of itself were being re-considered and questioned. Once just a base of creme anglaise, gelatin and whipped cream, now became more fruit forward, less cloying and fresh with seasonal ingredients, which paved the way for a lighter and more desirable flavor and texture. They were still being layered in elegant stemware, as well as being set in unique and refined molds giving the plate and presentation a new sense of sharpness and sophistication. I first witnessed this first hand at the 1988 Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany while watching Christopher Northmore C.M.P.C.(certified master pastry chef) crank out 150 of these for the U.S. team's hot food menu earning them their 3rd gold medal and world championship designation in a row. For the next 8-10 years, the bavarois was developed and re-enhanced on many a plated dessert the world over. Still, as so many things tend to do, the bavarian has in some ways been pushed aside to make room for the evolution of much more of a modern day dessert. Foams, powders, fluidgels, capsules and caviars, along with simply a minimalistic approach to desserts(as well as to savory cooking) have virtually taken over. The new preparations are striking, unique and flavorful with an emphasis on technique and style without any sacrifice to flavor. As a cook...I try to embrace all things new, yet without casting away what got us to where we are today. Every now and again, I like to reintroduce the bavarois in some form or fashion. In this case, I wanted to focus on the great seasonal flavors of pears, chocolate and caramel. For the pear; we centered our sights on the ingredient for the bavarian itself, infused with the pear caramel, in addition to using it as a fruit garnish and sorbet. The caramel, also deriving from the pear scraps was used as a rich cloak for the ivory cylinder and a foil to serve as a bridge for the fleur de sel. Caramel was also the focus for the sponge that lay inside as a base for the next ingredient(and my favorite foodstuff); chocolate. In this case, we made an earl grey infused chocolate truffle to be set inside the bavarian as a "surprise" and a huge burst of flavor.
Some pistachio dust and florentine finished out the dish. Although somewhat classic or "outdated", these flavors worked well together and presented nicely. I always feel it important and necessary to teach our cooks about the fundamentals and foundations of yesterday in order to understand and forge ahead to tomorrow, for it is these techniques and methodry that segues into the newest of creations. It is exciting knowing that in some ways...looking into the past is really seeing into the future.


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