Saturday, October 23, 2010

Creme Diplomat, Caramel, Gateau St Honore, Tarte Au Chocolate Noir

Chef's Gateau St Honore & Tarte Au Chocolate Noir

In Asia we honor the Fortune God, oh Great One who bestows upon us blessings of wealth and lottery winnings. For the French, more specifically French bakers and pastry chefs, their revered patron saint is the 7th bishop of Amiens, Saint Honore, and no better tribute befits a patron saint than a gateau in his name and honor. What did I tell you about the French, eh?

French bakers and pastry chefs, is there a sexier calling? Stuff the cop uniform and handcuffs, on my hen night my stripper will be in a chef jacket, tall hat and a whisk, but I digress.

Pouring Filling Into Blind Baked Tart Shell

French chocolate tart is a double whammy of a chocolate sensation. A dark chocolate tart shell is blind baked, then filled with a heavy duty solution of full cream and good quality dark chocolate. Into the oven it goes to bake at a low temperature until the filling is set.

Instant Gratification

The tart is simple to knock out, the filling dense and the chocolate flavor very full-on, hence it's usually served in very thin slices. Quality over quantity, folks.

Cooking Caramel, Piping Choux Puffs

While most of the mise en place for the St Honore was done, the sum is always greater than its parts, which meant more work in store as we brought the components together.

Water, sugar and glucose is heated until the sugar caramelized into a rich golden hue. The puffs are dipped, very cautiously, in the lava-hot caramel and left for a glossy top to form.

Sugar work, not my favourite thing in patisserie. Reaching a temperature of up to 190'C, when it burns, it burns man. So be very careful not to come into direct contact when you're working with it, or be prepared to have your skin completely burnt off.

Piping Creme Diplomat, Rounding Up The Gateau

Creme patisserie is mixed with whipped cream and gelatin to create a stiffer yet lighter Creme Diplomat which, when piped onto the gateau in the trademark "leaves", helps it hold its shape.

The puffs are also filled with the cream before being placed around the edge of the cake with some caramel to help them stick. Topped with berries and spun sugar, and you're good to go.

Making Spun Sugar

You've gone through the trouble and 3rd degree burns to create that beautiful caramel, so might as well make full use of it and do some spun sugar work. Boil the caramel down till light amber in color, then dip a brush in and swish it about till web-like strands gather. Round them up gently into a ball and you have yourself a beautiful centerpiece for any occasion.

Mini St Honores

Mille Feuille

With the leftover puff pastry, Chef Gert made Mille Feuille by filling each slice with diplomat, whipped cream and raspberry jam. Finally, fondant and chocolate is poured on top to decorate.

Dripping Delicious

My Shiny Top

I didn't expect my St Honore to turn out so well, as I was having a hard time with the caramel, which at times was either too hot to handle or too cold to glaze the puffs with. I am lucky to have Petra as a partner, that girl knows her sugar and cooked the caramel beautifully. 

I covered 1 gateau only partially with the spun sugar, so the piping can be more clearly seen. At the end of the day, you do want your hard work noticed.

Function Over Form

I might have done myself in with this one. While the other tarts were baking gently in the oven, mine was feriously bubbling away, which probably had sometime to do with the half litre of brandy I put in my filling. Sure it's ugly, but it'll go down well. Alcohol never lets you down.


  1. I did the cuisine diploma at Le Cordon Bleu London, and didn't tell my mum either. Looking at your pictures makes me wish I'd done pastry.

  2. well for me i wish i could be in Le Cordon Bleu, Unfortunately i don't have the resources. But my frustrations diminished for i have books from Le Cordon Blue, it helps me a lot. As if i was there too.. I envy you..

  3. Le Cordon Bleu London alumni myself. I'm broke now but I don't regret going it was the best experience of my life!!!

  4. oh boy, i could never bake puff pastry well enough. some how its always either too high or not well baked inside. can you please intruct me to the perfect way (...and light:)
    TNX Alto