It’s bright red, smooth and shiny. Chef Christian Faure, M.O.F (Master Craftsman of France), places a white dish with an apple carved out of sugar on our table as we meet at The Oberoi, Mumbai, where he is conducting master classes on French pastry techniques. Faure has been making pastry since he was 14 years old. “In France we need to finish with a sweet touch,” he says. “All the ingredients of desserts are the same. You have sugar, eggs, flour, milk, chocolate and coffee. It’s your knowledge and passion that makes the difference,” he says. His passion is quite evident. He tells us what a “catastrophe” it would be if you set a temperature above 90 degrees Celsius for crème brûlée.
Voila: Faure transforms simple ingredients into an exotic dessert. Priyam Dhar
A crucial knowledge, he says, is knowing how to whisk egg whites. While making a chocolate mousse, adding a bit of sugar to the eggs does the trick. The sugar and the moisture help the molecules stick for a smooth mix. “There are no chef’s secrets today. This is the time of Internet and Facebook and all the information can be found,” says Faure, who is also director of operations for Le Cordon Bleu, Ottawa. Faure believes in using seasonal ingredients. Since it’s strawberry season in Mumbai, his tip is to place the strawberries in the sun for 10 minutes. The warmth helps bring out the flavour of the fruit.
When it’s time to finish the dessert in progress, he points to the plate: he calls it Apple of Love. “You meet a pretty girl, she’s prefect and you take her out to a restaurant. You need to discover how she’s inside. And I don’t mean sex. Now break into the dessert,” he says. The brittle layer of sugar cracks open to reveal a layer of ivory cream, golden apple compote with a core of soft moist cake. The flavours are sweet, comforting and complex. A lot like love?
125g dark (55%) chocolate
50g unsalted butter
150ml whipped cream
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
45g castor sugar
Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a water bath, add the unsalted butter; stir until smooth. Set aside to cool. Whisk the cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks cling to the whisk. Beat the egg yolks and blend into the cream. Refrigerate.
Put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk until frothy. To start with, add 15g of sugar a little at a time, whisking until the egg whites are smooth and shiny. Gradually add the remaining sugar, whisking until stiff peaks form. Whisk one-third of the egg whites into the cream-and-egg-yolk mixture to lighten it. Using a spatula, carefully fold in the remainder in two separate batches. Quickly whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, making sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Refrigerate the chocolate mousse for at least 3 hours, or until firm before serving.
Chef’s tip: To get a lighter mousse, remove the eggs from the refrigerator well before starting the recipe.