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Sweet Dreams Of Christmas
YOU could say that visions of sugar plums - not to mention gold flakes, white truffles and cacao pods - danced in the heads of the four acclaimed chefs we enlisted, to create a few pages of dessert porn to kick off the Christmas feasting season.
Emmanuel Stroobant, chef-owner, Saint Pierre
In the director’s seat is veteran food photographer Edmond Ho, whose name is synonymous with local cookbooks filled with photos that look good enough to eat off the page. This time he’s looking for gold, which is why he hovers over chef Emmanuel Stroobant as the latter releases a shower of glittering flakes over his creation, appropriately titled, ‘18 Carats’.
The key was to bring out the “magical” feel and opulence of the cake, says Mr Ho of chef Stroobant’s indulgent creation of chocolate, pear and Alba white truffle cake.
The chef-owner of Michelin-starred Saint Pierre was inspired to put a contemporary spin on Poire Belle Hélène, a classic French pear dessert, using seasonal ingredients such as pears and white Alba truffles.
The cake itself is a composition of dark manjari chocolate cake mousse, white truffle chiboust with Japanese pears poached in Red Savina pepper, almond, hazelnut biscuit, topped with edible gold flakes.
“Being in Asia/Singapore, I wanted to incorporate the five Chinese elements into the dessert,” chef Stroobant says. “For the wood element, we have chocolate, almond and hazelnut, while the well-loved and prized white truffle brings earthiness into the dessert. Chilli goes very well with chocolate, thus the red Savina pepper spices the dessert up with that hint of fire. Crème chiboust and pears represent water, and finally, the piece de resistance - a generous shower of edible gold flakes as the metal component.”
The dessert is also a reminder to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, “which is hopefully filled with joy, blessings and abundance”.
This dessert was a one-off creation for Weekend and is not available for sale.
#02-02B One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road. Tel: 6438 0887. http://www.saintpierre.com.sg.
Desmond Lee, Assistant Pastry Chef, Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Think Christmas, think chocolate, is the current mantra of Desmond Lee, Assistant Pastry Chef of the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, for whom working with chocolate is practically second nature. The award-winning chef is fresh from representing Singapore at the World Final of the prestigious World Chocolate Masters in Paris in October, where he finished in the top 10. It took him two years to prepare for this competition, during which he was totally immersed in the world of chocolate.
It puts him in good stead to create his symphony of chocolate, presented in its most “natural” form. He assembles whole cacao pods, chocolate twigs, liquid nitrogen-frozen ice cream ‘rocks’, orange gel and orange peel - supplemented with Mr Ho’s idea of a “earth and rubble” theme - into a moody landscape that resembles the rugged terrain of a distant planet, complete with ethereal plumes of liquid nitrogen vapours.
“For getting into the final (of the Chocolate Masters), I was given the opportunity to come up with my own blend, which I named Co-ka-me and I used it in this dessert,” says chef Lee. “It is a combination of African and Mexican chocolate and has a fascinating bittersweet and sour profile. I wanted to show chocolate in its “original” form as a cacao pod. Flavour-wise it is bitter-sweet with a touch of citrus - the flavours of life.”
This dessert is currently not available for sale, but enquiries for custom orders are welcome.
Melt Cafe Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square. Tel: 6885 3500 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stracciatella di Bufala, Tomato, Espresso, Kristal de Chine Caviar
Jason Tan, chef-owner, Corner House
Instead of making a visual statement, Jason Tan of the one-Michelin-starred Corner House prefers to make an impact on the palate, with a “chef’s dessert” where ingredients meant for savoury cooking are reinterpreted as dessert.
“It’s like when a cheesecake, which I love, meets mozzarella cheese and tomato salad,” explains chef Tan. “I smoke stracciatella cheese and turn it into a frozen parfait. The parfait is then topped with caviar for a savoury balance. Under the milk skin, studded with edible flowers, we have a tomato, espresso, wasonbon sugar, olive oil, and basil marmalade. Then you have the caramelised cherry tomato which adds fruitiness and crunch.”
Presentation-wise, chef Tan stays true to his understated style where the final “look” is much dependent on the mood of the moment and also the various ingredients. In this case, Mr Ho plays up his use of edible flowers to create a bigger, botanic theme. It turns out to be a “Garden of Seasons”, with the cheese parfait and caviar representing Winter; milk skin with tomato espresso jam studded with edible flowers for Spring, gold and red cherry tomatoes for Summer; and the flowers scattered by the Autumn wind. It may look a little shy, but it’s packed with flower power.
This dessert is currently not available for sale, but some components may make their way into chef Tan’s degustation menus, so do keep a lookout for them.
1 Cluny Rd, E J H Corner House Singapore Botanic Gardens. Tel: 6469 1000. http://www.cornerhouse.com.sg/
Pang Kok Keong, chef-owner, Antoinette
Pang Kok Keong is fascinated with snow globes, “which I thought was magical when I was a kid”. Now that he’s all grown up, he wants to “create something that both young and old can relate to”. And enjoy too, given that his version is a mesmerising orb made of light vanilla cream cheese mousse, raspberry marmalade, light passionfruit cream, almond nougatine and finger sponge with kirsch.
The whimsical snowy forest in a clear globe becomes the star of a bigger story book tale, with “the wooden features, more green sponge cake and icing sugar to bring out the snow forest element”, says Mr Ho. Dry ice is then added to give some mysterious effect.
The globe itself is available for sale, but if you want the same fancy look, you’ll need to add your own dry ice and props. And possibly your own food photographer too.
30 Penhas Road. Tel: 6293 3121 http://www.antoinette.com.sg/