Pine Sherbet Fountain ‘Pre-Hit’ & Mango and Douglas Fir Puree, Bavarois of Lychee and Mango, Blackcurrant Sorbet, Blackcurrant and Green Peppercorn Jelly
Specialty Equipment: dehydrator, ice cream machine
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F, sodium citrate, gelatine 170 Bloom, tartaric acid, Douglas fir essential oil, lychee essential oil, pine Flexarome®
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
I tried. I did. But obtaining pine Flexarome® is impossible. I might just have well walked in the garden of my neighbours and started digging away in the hope of some gold. My pursuit of the stuff started with an e-mail to Firmenich, the company that sells it to The Fat Duck. I got a very polite response with an invitation to discuss my request on the phone. I called them and talked for some time, at which point I was told Firmenich is strictly business to business and only sends out products to registered clients. In a last attempt I told I made a deal with CP Kelco some time ago to get samples and asked if there was any way I could make a similar arrangement. Unfortunately the answer was a two letter word. The reason is Firmenich sells specialised products for particular needs instead of standardised stuff like CP Kelco, resulting in lots of paper work when processing products and no way to just send something out. My second attempt of obtaining the Flexarome was The Fat Duck. My request, to keep it short, was not fulfilled.
Damn. I hate it when I have to start a recipe without a particular ingredient. Luckily I could find all the other ingredients and found a solution for the missing Flexarome, but more on that later. Taking centre stage of the dessert are a mango & lychee mousse and a scoop of blackcurrant sorbet. Obtaining blackcurrants and lychee puree required me jumping through a whole field of hoops. All the stores I visited offered a range of frozen fruits, but never blackcurrants. The same goes for the lychee purée. After a long search I found a store, which sold both and I was ready to start. A note, the recipe asks for mango and lychee puree. You could blitz fresh fruit, what I did with mangos, but the recipe states purees specifically, so I went for the fruit purees of Boiron.
The bottom layer of the mousse is made from an Italian meringue, whipped cream, lychee puree, lychee essential oil and gelatine. To boost the flavor of lychee, the recipe uses lychee essential oil. I’ve used essential oils in other recipes and can say that it is powerful stuff. Without it the lychee would be a very distant background flavor in the mousse.
To get all the oil in he mix I usually weigh it out with another fluid, so it doesn’t stick to the scale.
The top layer is a mango jelly made from mangos, black pepper, Douglas fir essential oil, vanilla and gelatine. I used a pine essential oil, which is about the same as Douglas fir essential oil. It really is a bit like eating your Christmas tree, but as weird as its sounds, it’s pretty tasty.
To remove the flesh of a mango, I cut along the flat pit, turn it 90˚ and cut the flesh from the edges of the pit.
The top layer of the mousse.
Pastry supplies. I’m always in need of them, but never have them at hand. I think almost everyone can relate to this situation. Whether it are different type of moulds, a number of baking sheets, cake tins or a good kitchen aid, I always curse not having them. For this recipe the missing piece of equipment was a rectangular mould. The thing is that the mousse is lighter than air, so a bottomless mould is ideal. You can remove it without disturbing the delicate content and cut the mousse in rectangles. I had a plastic box, the former owner of fresh pasta, and let getting the mousse out of the box be a future worry.
In the end it went, luckily, quite smoothly. I removed one side from the plastic container and could pick up individual pieces from the mousse, only damaging the edges.
The jellies are made from blackcurrant juice and green pepper flavored water. The blackcurrants have to be macerated to extract fluid and passed through muslin. Just as I wanted to follow this step, I discovered I ran out of hair nets. Without the nets I just sieved the juice, resulting in some solids seeping into the strained juice.
Making the jellies with gellan F, see other posts.
The sorbet is made from water, fructose, blackcurrants, lemon juice and vodka. Fructose is used, because it brings out the fruitiness from our fruit brethren. I never did a side by side comparison, but I trust in the book. In the absence of a Refractometer I couldn’t check if my mix had the desired Brix level, so I just tasted for a good balance between sourness, bitterness and sweetness.
The dollop of yellow on the plate is a mango sauce made from mango puree, Douglas fir essential oil, rum and butter. It is made like a classic butter sauce: emulsifying a warm fluid with cubes of butter.
The tuile on top of the sorbet is a red beet crisp. It is made from fine beet puree (looking at pictures of the dish I think you want some texture and not an ultra smooth puree) and icing sugar. It is another component of the dish made easier by pastry supplies, in this case tuile templates. I just formed one big rectangle and divided it in rectangles with a palette knife.
Ok, the sherbet fountain. The straws are made from hollowed out and dried vanilla pods. First you remove the seeds. Then you soak them in vodka and dry them. To remove the seeds I used a barbecue stick, which worked fine.
Forgot all about them. Pine nuts have to be coated in egg white and salt and baked in the oven.
After all the hassle with obtaining some pine Flexarome I was not ready to throw in the towel. Fuck that. The solution to my impasse came from my ice cream machine. With my machine I have to use a salt solution (or alcohol) as a conductor to connect the churning container with the cooling element. After some uses I noticed that the water evaporated, leaving behind salt crystals. Why not do this with flavored sugar?
So, I dissolved sugar in water and added pine essential oil to taste. You can then put it in a storage cabinet and wait a week or more for the water to evaporate, but I needed it much faster. I popped the syrup in the dehydrator with the vanilla pods and ended up with dry sugar crystals with a pine flavor. Mixing it with tartaric acid and cornflour resulted in a pine sherbet. I don’t know if the pine Flexarome only contains a pine essential oil, or something completely different, but I think I ended up with a comparable sherbet. I hope.
To plate I cut the mango mousse in rectangles and dressed them with the jellies, pine nuts and grated lime zest. Around the mousse goes some mango sauce and more jellies. The dish is finished with a scoop of sorbet and a beetroot tuile (luckily I had a few larger ones). When comparing the instructions to photos on the internet it often seems as if the dimensions of components are cut back in the book. The recipe instructs to make 4 x 2 cm tuiles. On all the photos I’ve seen they look much bigger and the width looks more than twice the height. Same goes for the jellies. Could someone measure them for me in the restaurant?
Forgetting about whipping out your set square in the restaurant, how does a Christmas tree + mangos + blackcurrants + lychee taste? Well, surprisingly good. While making components of the dish and previewing them I thought: what the hell is going on in my kitchen. Then you eat it all on the same plate and the dish works its magic. Like the strawberries dish it is composing a dish to the extreme. The lychee and the mango have the back of the pine oil, while the green pepper is protected by the blackcurrant juice. The blackcurrant sorbet is the only exception. It is freely let loose in your mouth, exploding upon impact, not saying it is not good.
The sherbet is a tasty and fun prelude to the main symphony of flavors.
Is it one of the best desserts I ever had? No. It didn’t blow my mind like the red cabbage gazpacho & pommery grain mustard ice cream or the crab biscuit. Though, I judge my amateur attempt, not the beyond perfect restaurant version. You never know what gets lost in translation.
Just as in the conclusion of the Sole Veronique post, a picture speaks at thousand words. Not portrayed in the photo are the two other plates I feasted upon. Hmm, maybe the dish was really, really good… The people I gave it to all loved it…