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Sweet Cheese

For some reason, I always associate blueberries with cheesecake.   I don’t recall having it more often than any other blueberry dessert as a kid, so I don’t really know where the correlation comes from.   I do know, however, that when you pair the silkiest of cheesecakes with an awesome blueberry sauce, it can be heaven in your mouth.

This is my attempt at that celestial mouthful…and there isn’t a graham cracker crust in sight.  Instead, I’ve replaced the traditional with a “cremet”, an ethereally light mixture of cream cheese and crème fraiche lightened with meringue and drained overnight through cheesecloth.  Its sweet-floral notes come from the addition of elderflower syrup & liquor.  Blueberries make the sauce and a most intense pickled sorbet.  Toasted shreds of cornmeal cake add texture and a breath of warmth to this summer dessert.  A sprinkle each of fresh lemon thyme leaves and espellete pepper keep every bite as interesting as the last.

Sweet Cheese Cremet
About 10 portions

670 g  cream cheese at room temperature
690 g  creme fraiche

40 g   fresh lemon juice
10 g   vanilla extract
2 g    kosher salt
60 g   St. Germain elderflower liquor
20 g   elderflower syrup

230 g  pasteurized egg white

Line a perforated half hotel pan with a double layer of damp cheesecloth, allowing it to drape over the sides.  Place this pan over a solid half hotel.  Set aside.

Blend cream cheese & creme fraiche in a food processor until smooth, scraping sides of bowl.  While machine is running, stream in liquid flavorings.  Scrape the bowl down again and make sure this mixture is completely smooth.

Meanwhile, whip the egg whites to firm peaks.  Pour some of the liquid cheese mixture into the stiff whites, and fold to loosen. Pour in the remaining liquid and fold until homogeneous.  

Pour the cremet mixture into the lined pan and gently fold the cheesecloth over it to cover.  Wrap this in plastic and allow to rest in the fridge overnight.  Next day, gently peel away the cheesecloth from the surface and scoop about 3 ounce of cremet into a bowl and serve with blueberries or whatever fruit you have on hand.

Note:  Once the cremet has been set overnight, do not stir it.  When scooping, try to do this in one motion, allowing the pattern of the cheesecloth be part of the character of the cremet.

Serve within 2 days of making.

Strawberry Delice

I'm a sucker for the tableside pour.  I've been doing it for a while and I don't see myself stopping.  It's a way to add a touch of theatre to an otherwise simple dish. If the liquid is quite fluid, pouring in front of the guest keeps presentation clean and eliminates undesired sloshing.  And people seem to like it.  

This pour in particular is of an ice cold strawberry consommé.  As it hits the porcelain, the vivid red pools around my new favorite mouthful - a heaped quenelle of Dulcey cremeux.  Garnished with an aleppo flecked caramel lace, the two textures make for a creme brulee like experience.  Succulent summer strawberries and a shower of peppery baby cress add freshness and a peppery finish.

Dulcey Cremeux
The technique is actually of a panna cotta, but the addition of the chocolate gives it a much deeper mouthfeel.

About 8 portions

480 g  heavy cream 
1 g    kosher salt
2.5 g    caramel paste (found in specialty stores, can omit if unavailable)

325 g  Dulcey chocolate (by Valrhona, it is a caramelized white chocolate)
3 ea   gelatin leaves, bloomed in ice water and drained

250 g  cold buttermilk
200 g  cold heavy cream

Boil together the cream, salt, and caramel paste.  In separate bowl, have ready your chocolate and drained gelatin.  Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Immediately add the cold liquids to cool everything down.  Blend everything with a hand blender to ensure there are no lumps of chocolate left.  Pour into 3 pint containers and allow to set at least 4 hours.

Once set, use a warm spoon to quenelle the cream into a bowl.  Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Serve crémeux within 2 days of making.