Candied Dandelion

Ingredients

  • Dandelion flowers 10 10
  • Simple syrup, at 50° Brix 500 g 1 lb 1.6 oz

Method

  1. Make sure you are using organic dandelions. They grow wild practically everywhere, but you have to make sure that they are not taken from an area that has been sprayed with pesticides or where house pets roam freely. Remove the stems.
  2. Line a sheet of Plexiglas large enough to hold the dandelions (a 12.5-cm/5-in square should be sufficient) with a square of acetate that is the same size. Lightly spray the Plexiglas first with a light coating of nonstick oil spray; this will help the acetate cling to it. Once it is sprayed, wipe the surface of the Plexiglas with a paper towel to spread the oil evenly on the surface. Place the square of acetate on top of the Plexiglas and smooth it out with a clean cloth or paper towel to obtain a flat surface.
  3. Turn a dehydrator on to 50°C/120°F.
  4. Warm the simple syrup to a low simmer over medium heat.
  5. Put the dandelions in and simmer them for about 2 minutes; any longer than that will damage them.
  6. Remove the flowers from the syrup and put them on the prepared acetate. Spread them out with your hands, face down.
  7. Dry them in the dehydrator for at least 2 hours.
  8. Once they are dried, take them off the acetate carefully so as to not break them.
  9. Keep them in an airtight container with silica gel packs to keep them from getting soft. If there are any left over after service, it is a good idea to re-dry them for about 30 minutes on a daily basis.

Cheese as Dessert

There are two approaches to cheese as dessert. One is to have a cheese cart with options for your customers to choose from, and another is to compose a dish that showcases a cheese (for Robiola and Cherry Jam with Toasted Brioche). Either way is acceptable, but you need to understand what each style entails.

The variety to offer on a cheese cart is a difficult decision. Before you even get started, it is important to know a lot about cheese. What types of milk are used? The cheese could be made from buffalo, cow, ewe, goat, or a combination of these milks. How is cheese categorized by type and texture? They could be blue, hard, semihard, semisoft, soft, soft pâte, soft washed, soft white. How long will this cheese keep? What is affinage? (Answer: This French word refers to the process of maturing and ripening cheese.) This is an educational process that takes time; taste as many cheeses as possible and learn as much as you can about them before you commit to a cheese program. You can have a simple cheese selection or offer every type of cheese there is; it all depends on what you are looking for and what your staff is trained to do. Now, it doesn’t mean that the pastry chef is responsible for developing a cheese program, but it is within the realm of possibility that you may want to take on such a responsibility, since theoretically cheese, as well as dessert, is eaten at the end of a meal. Consider also that offering cheese means there will be one more plate of food that might keep customers from ordering one of your actual desserts.

Composed cheese plates can be a smart alternative to a cheese cart since you can limit these to just a few choices (two or three cheeses, for example, each one with its own garnish, sauce, and so forth). This type of offering is a terrific transition between the last course and dessert (or predessert), since you can combine savory components with sweeter ones.

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