Pastry School — Lessons 9, 10 & 11 — it’s all about the eggs

Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Souffle, Lime Souffle

This week is definitely all about eggs!

After spending hours in lesson 8 whipping eggs, we finally got to make things out of them in lesson 9. We started out learning all about meringue. I never realized there were 3 types. Ordinary, Swiss and Italian. Also, I’ve always seen recipes call for a pinch of cream of tartar when whipping whites, but apparently, that is not necessary. Salt, lemon juice, cream of tartar, or any acid will help stabilize whites, but if you know how to whip them correctly, they are unnecessary.

Ordinary is very unstable and is typically used in cakes and souffles. This type of meringue is sometimes called French Meringue and is prepared by whipping the egg whites until they hold a soft peak and then whipping in half the sugar. After that’s done, fold in the other half of the sugar by hand. Ordinary meringue is intensely sweet so it is usually used in combination with other flavors.

The 2nd type is Swiss Meringue. This meringue is more stable and is created by gently whisking egg whites and sugar over simmering water until they are hot and the sugar is dissolved.  After being heated, the meringue is whipped until cool. This meringue is more stable because the sugar has been allowed to dissolve in the egg whites. Usually this meringue is used as a base to buttercream, in mousses, or Lemon Meringue Pie.

The last kind of meringue is the Italian Meringue. This is the most stable of meringues and is made by whipping hot sugar syrup into firm peaked egg whites, until the meringue is cool.

We spent most of our time on Swiss Meringue and even got to make some shapes out of it by placing it over stencils. Then we added A POUND of butter to our meringue and made buttercream icing.

To end class we made a rich chocolate mousse. This was done by melting chocolate with some butter and whipping up cream. Next we made a sabayon and mixed it with the chocolate and finally folded the whipped cream into our chocolate/sabayon mixture. We piped some into glasses and finished them with a stenciled piece of meringue done earlier.

In the next lessons we tackled one of the scariest pastries to me, souffles. You always hear about how delicate souffles are. Don’t open the oven door! Hold your breath the whole time you’re making them! Turns out they’re not as difficult as they sound! A successful souffle starts way before you even make the batter. To ensure you get a good rise, you need to butter and sugar your dishes really well and then put the dishes in the freezer. The butter and sugar mixture gives the batter some traction and is what helps the souffle rise in a straight tower! You need to put the dishes in the freezer to ensure that neither the butter nor the sugar start to melt before you’re ready to bake.

Lesson 10 was all about flourless souffles. We all made flourless chocolate souffles and then my group made banana and caramel pear souffles. Turns out, after you’ve properly buttered your dishes, the rest of making souffles is a piece of cake! For the chocolate ones you melt some chocolate, liquid and butter over hot water and after cooled stir in some yolks. Then whip egg whites to a very soft peak and add in some sugar. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture, fold the other 3/4 in, put the batter in a piping bag, pipe the souffle batter into your prepared dish and put them in the oven. That’s it! You’ll know they’re done when they are dry.

Next we tackled fruit flourless souffles. I was less than excited to make both the banana and caramel pear souffles, but turns out, the caramel pear ones were amazing! They were one of the only combinations that had a bit more flavors in them. In entirety the class made: strawberry, apple, banana, caramel pear, raspberry, peach, pear and cranberry.

We also learned a couple of neat tricks along the way.

1. Always make a large cut at the bottom of your piping bag so the souffle batter really just pours out (you don’t want to squeeze the bag too much or you’ll flatten your egg whites)

2. Smaller souffles will rise more than larger ones, and they will puff up the most in a convection oven, but because of the fan they may then fall over.

3. Too little liquid will seize chocolate, so make sure your recipes always have enough!

4. Most importantly — make sure to butter your dishes well before beginning

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