Side View of My Pistachio Surprise
A chocolate pistachio surprise! Well, not much of a surprise since pistachio is in the name of the dessert, but it still works. The cake layers are macaron, like the trendy little Parisian sandwich cookies that are starting to catch on in the US. It is a simple batter - mainly stiff egg whites, powdered sugar and almond flour, piped into a spiral shape to make the top and bottom layer.
Chef D's Cakes - same ingredients, different looks
I do get more nervous than usual when Chef D is supervising the practical. He sees EVERYTHING. I just tell myself to breathe, since sometimes I forget to when he is around. Really, it sounds silly, and I am not usually nervous in the kitchen, but Chef D has a sixth sense for when anyone is making a mistake, and will say, "Sarah, what are you doing?" Imagine that in a French accent though, kinda like Pepe le Peu. Click Read More for the rest of the story.
We started with the macaron batter, piping the layers and some small cookie sized rounds as well. Then, onto the pistachio creme brulee, more like a pistachio creme anglais, but the pistachio paste we use has a bitter almond extract flavor, with a scary Grinch-like color. No problems with it, so I move on to the chocolate mousse, similar to the one we made for the Heavenly chocolate cake in Intermediate, and that one was a disaster - I made chocolate-flavored butter by accident, and Chef D was not impressed. The chocolate should be at 50 degrees Celsius, the whipped cream should be cold, but not too cold, and the eggs should be at room temperature. The chocolate must be warm enough so it won't seize when it hits the cold cream, which would make chocolate chip mousse instead. Chef D stood over my shoulder as I beat the some egg mixture into the chocolate - very fast, then add the lightened chocolate to the remaining eggs very gently, just until there are no streaks of chocolate or egg white visible. Then STOP! Add the mixture to a pastry bag and start making tall blobs of mousse around the edge of the macaron. Spread some mousse in the center, pipe the pistachio cream next, then cover with more chocolate mousse - this is the surprise - you can't see the pistachio until you cut into the cake.
Set the cake in the freezer and work on decorating the top macaron with a daisy design, and this is where I make my fatal mistake. My mousse is a little to soft to pipe, and I scrape my mistakes off twice, then come up with a decent petal design and start to clean up my station obsessively. I hear the chef say my name, and look up to see him pointing at my sleeve, and of course, there is a good amount of chocolate in my cuff, which is normally rolled up tightly, but the kitchen was cold, and I left them unrolled. I thought he was annoyed that I was dirty, but he then pointed to my cake, and I realized that the chocolate mousse in my sleeve was from the daisy design I had just finished. Seriously?
Another addition to the massive laundry pile
I move on to place the sad daisy top onto the bottom macaron, and get out the chocolate gun to lightly spray the entire cake. Decorate with dried apricots (or mandarin orange segments, if the apricot truck doesn't deliver) and some whole pistachios. Then I realize that my layers are misaligned a bit, and try to wiggle the top layer over to match the bottom, but it is frozen together, so I end up making a hole in the macaron with my finger instead.
I have to say, Chef D was pretty nice about the whole thing, and said the layers were nice, the daisy was OK before I dragged my sleeve through it, and that the chocolate spray was not bad either. This is much higher praise than I would have expected. I would make this again with a few modifications: use higher-quality pistachio paste, less chocolate mousse, or a lighter one, and thicker macaron layers for more crunch. Now I just need 10 people to eat this cake before I do. There are some workmen in the apartment downstairs, maybe I can pawn it off on them?
Monday Morning Breakfast