On Chocolate & Plating
Okay, I admit it. I don't really like chocolate. When out to dinner, I'll always opt for a fruit or ice cream based dessert; never the rich chocolate ganache or molten cake. Of course, my profession requires me to provide the public with what they want.. and that is almost inevitably, Chocolate! This is my version of a non-chocolate lover's chocolate dessert, and it uses no less than four types of said ingredient. I think my gripe about most chocolate desserts is that they end up being a gut bomb of too bitter, too sweet, and too heavy. In this dish, I've aimed to obliterate everything I hate about chocolate desserts.
I heart Valrhona, and it is well exploited here. "Caramelia" panna cotta, dehydrated "Coeur de Guanaja" mousse, caramelized "Ivoire" ganache, and a super light "Guanaja" sponge. The whole shebang is offset with a refreshing and tangy quenelle of buttermilk sorbet. Nothing in this dish is overly creamy, overly rich, nor overly dense.
One more thing to admit: I don't care for ring molds, or most things molded for that matter. This is not to say I like to see a mess on a plate. Food in general lately has become much more free flowing and organic in presentation, and I consider my plating style to be in the same frame of thought. For example, the panna cotta, instead of being set into a mold and plopped onto the plate, is gently quenelled into a wobbly & shiny mound. The dehydrated mousse is roughly chopped into a dark rubble. The Guanaja sponge is hand torn to naturally expose those beautiful air pockets. What you can't see is the caramelized Ivoire ganache (professionally known as "nemalaka") that's hidden under all of the above. The whole composition is then condensed onto one third of the plate. As with Valrhona, I heart negative space. I am one of those freaks who has absolutely no qualms about using a huge piece of porcelain to hold four bites of food. No apologies.