I don't know if sometimes I should be committed to an institution or not. I admit that there's a part of me that looks at something difficult and rubs my hands with glee thinking "Hmm I'd like to try that". And that's the part of me that probably should be institutionalised. I'm studying for my Ps and my husband keeps telling me that it's not that hard, that millions of people already have theirs and that that should prove that it is indeed something easily within reach to an able bodied person. However a perverse part of me knows that if only 5 people in the world had a Driver's License, then I'd be more interested in joining that club than one where millions of people belong. It's utter foolishness for the most part as if I try, I probably wouldn't get in but it's the want in me that desires it.
This item was the best looking of the very gorgeously photographed 3 Star Chef book by Gordon Ramsay in the section he calls "The Dark Arts" (so Harry Potter, love it). So naturally I wanted to try and make it. I knew that I would have to make some adjustments (I used strawberries rather than rapsberries, I made honey ice cream instead of milk and one mousse type was canceled based on the amount of time it took to do another part, but more on that later). So was I able to recreate a 3 Michelin star restaurant dessert? Not exactly really and not without some adjustments to his recipes. I have to say that there were some crucial details missing for those who have never made the tuiles before and some things were just so not possible that I abandoned the recipe and made my own version (the directions for Italian Meringue for the mousse).
I had some issues with parts of this recipe so I've included the easier version which I know worked. I wouldn't want my readers to go through the trauma of a failed recipe. And this dessert was actually served at Royal Hospital Road as seen on the Stomach Expansion blog. So without further ado, please take my hand and I welcome you to the saga that was the Strawberry and Mint Mille Feuille with Honey Ice Cream!
Strawberry and Mint Millefeuille with Honey Ice Cream
For Chocolate Figure 8 swirl decoration
The very first thing I tried, before anything else, was making the pretty patterns in chocolate. If you're confident you can do them, skip ahead to make the ice cream first as that will need time to freeze. I figured that if I couldn't do those, then I wouldn't bother with the rest of the dessert as they looked so spectacular and felt that they added so much to the presentation. So I took out our entire set of plain white plates, all 8 of them, melted some dark chocolate in a zip lock steamer bag, snipped off the end and went to town on the plates. My first was a spectacular failure but by the 5th or 6th I had managed to get something sort of like what he has in the book. The key was even pressure and not pressing too hard, witness when I started to put too much pressure and the squiggly lines that ensued.
On the right hand side of the plate was where I started to put too much pressure and hence the lines turned squiggly
If this is your first time:
- 100g of dark chocolate
- piping bag with small end snipped off
- as many plates as you may need, practise makes perfect
Step 1 - Whilst the chocolate is warm and liquid, make figure 8 swirls starting at the end of one plate (towards the centre) and swirl out drawing 8's. Finish in the centre of one end of the plate with an emphasis. Do not squeeze too hard, this will cause the lines to be squiggly. Ideally I should think that one of those squeezy sauce bottles with a thin tip would be better but mine had too big a dispensing hole.
"WRONG! That's way too thick! What are you f*$*(*&^(*g doing?" I hear Ramsay say in my head
The second part was the other thing that I had never done before, Tuiles. The recipe leaves out a crucial detail in how to divide the mixture and indeed I found that making even half of the mix would yield enough tuiles for the task even with some breakage. What is key is how thin the tuile mixture has to be spread out. The first time, I put it all down and ended up with a thin cake, nothing remotely biscuitty as you can see above. Also his instruction of 2 wooden spoons next to each other should actually read that you will need 6-8 wooden spoons in sets of 2 next to each other and had me scrambling for spoons of an equal handle width which I of course only had two being a non commercial kitchen. I was so peeved after that that I had a bit of a tantrum Ramsay style and retreated to the internet to soothe myself with some LOLCat action. Turns out after my next batch that the wooden spoons weren't needed, read on below...
_Thinner than thin tuile mixture, the greaseproof paper buckles a little (see waves)
I later returned and made another half lot of the batter. This time I made them paper, paper thin, which was hard on the greaseproof paper as it kept wanting to warp and fold underneath it. I baked them for the time needed and straight away was all set to drape them on the spoons when I realised that the little buggers were already frozen in time. Another mini tantrum ensued and I contemplated some more internet distractions (failblog this time, I should've put this on it). I regrouped and made one more lot, this time putting some knives and spoons underneath the paper when putting it in the oven so that it would set in the oven with the wave pattern. Finally, somewhat of a success (although not as pretty as Chef Ramsay's). I didn't take photos as I was too exhausted mentally to do so.
This amount will make about 24-26 tuiles of a paper thin thickness (the way they should be). I actually halved Gordon Ramsay's original recipe quantities although the ingredients and method remain the same.
- 30ml whole milk
- 35g muscovado sugar
- 35g icing sugar
- 75g plain flour
- 7g cocoa powder
- 28g egg white (about 1 medium egg white)
Step 1 - Place milk and muscovado sugar in a small saucepan on low heat until the sugar melts. Cool.
Step 2 - Sift the icing sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a bowl.
Step 3 - Stir in cooled milk and egg white (a little at a time) and mix well so that there are no lumps.
The Tuile batter
Step 4 - Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof baking paper and using a palette knife, use about half of the mixture (or even less) to make a really thin layer of mixture across the surface. It needs to be thin enough so that you can draw 12 12x3cms rectangles using the edge of the palette knife and the lines will stay drawn. Then slide two oven proof long handled items about the thickness of two wooden spoon handles under them. Slide into oven carefully making sure not to move the handled items.
Step 5 - Bake for 5-7 minutes and cool. Store in airtight container.
Honey ice cream
Tuiles and Chocolate patterns done, I was more confident with the mousse and ice cream. I wasn't going to make a milk ice cream as I only have a Kitchenaid ice cream maker which takes up too much room in my freezer (milk freezes in large crystals so a proper ice cream churner is necessary) so I made a honey ice cream instead. This was easy and the result was voluptuous and so ambrosially honeyed.
- 500ml cream
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup of runny honey
Step 1 - Heat cream in small saucepan until almost bubbling but not quite. Meanwhile beat egg yolks and honey together. When cream is ready, pour in honey egg mixture and stir constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Cool in sink with ice cubes then freeze until set.
Strawberry and Mint Mousse
As for the mousse, I made the strawberry sauce which was no hardship, the recipe then suggested that we make Italian Meringue which is one of the harder meringues as it requires a sugar thermometer. However he wanted us to boil the sugar, water and glucose syrup for 5-7 minutes which simply resulted in a caramel (and a burnt one if I had let it go for the whole 5-7 minutes). So after chucking a saucepan with burnt caramel in the sink, I beat two egg whites, added some caster sugar and made a regular meringue. Then I added in the whipped cream and made a mousse (which by the way is fantastic, worth serving on its own even).
This may make more than you need but halving it might not be enough. Trust me, it's divine so just enjoy eating the rest.
- 550g strawberries washed, hulled and cut into halves or quarters
- 2 sheets of leaf gelatine
- 2 egg whites
- 10 tablespoons of caster sugar for egg whites
- 400ml double cream
- 7-8 mint leaves sliced into thin shreds
Step 1 - Soak gelatine sheets in cold water to soften. Put the strawberries in a non stick pan and cook until soft. Once soft, press through a sieve to extract every bit of juice. Cool.
Step 2 - Drain the gelatine and squeeze gently to remove excess water. Add to the warm strawberry juice and mix well until gelatine is dissolved.
Step 3 - Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add sugar tablespoon by tablespoon until you get stiff peaks.
Step 4 - Whip the cream until you get a good thick dolloping consistnecy. Fold this and the stiff egg white into the cooled (make sure it's not warm) strawberry mixture. Place in fridge to firm up slightly and then put into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle to firm up more (I left this overnight as I was too tired after all the other effort but you could leave it for a few hours).
Step 5 - Make scoops of ice cream on a plate and stow in the freezer. Meanwhile heat chocolate and fill piping bag with it and drizzle it over the ice cream. Place back in freezer until ready.
Step 5 - To assemble the plate, take your chocolate decorated plate and pipe two blobs of mousse. Place the tuile and pipe two lines of mousse on each tuile, layer and repeat then top with third tuile. Cut the strawberry and place a mint leaf in it. If the strawberry doesn't sit up properly, use a bit of piped mousse to hold it in place. Lastly add an ice cream scoop to the plate.
Adapted from 3 Star Chef by Gordon Ramsay