Friday, February 26, 2010

Plating and Piping

Besides French pastry our class has also been working on honing our piping and plating skills. For piping practice, we work on creating borders, writing and various design elements. We made faux buttercream using shortening in lieu of butter so that we don't waste the good stuff for practice. It sounds as gross as it looks, but it serves its purpose. We also practiced using a little of the ultra bitter chocolate that was accidentally purchased instead of semi-sweet. Chocolate flows a lot smoother than buttercream, which is ideal for writing and intricate design work.

We also tried our hand at plating design with a few leftover raspberry mousse cakes made a few weeks ago. Clearly, my piping skills need a lot more practice since the lines aren't quite even all around and they get a bit shaky here and there. I really enjoy practicing piping though and I aim to get really good at it since it's pertinent to my culinary career aspirations.

Our chef taught us a great little trick for creating small decorative chocolate pieces like the little circles on the mousse cake pictured to the right. You can't see it very well in the photo, but the circles are streaked with red and brown chocolate. Very cool and arty looking and it gives the cake a bit of a mod flair.

He starts by taking a square of acetate and using a 2-inch paint brush to repeatedly spread colored cocoa butter (we used red) back and forth several times until the chocolate set into a streaky pattern. Then he melted chocolate in a double-boiler and applied a thin coating on top of the red pattern using an offset spatula. Then leave it out to allow the chocolate to set. Then you can take a cookie cutter and cut out various shapes to have on hand whenever you need to add decoration to a dessert. VERY impressive looking, yet incredibly easy to do. I LOVE this technique!

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