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Cover: Founding Flavors

March, 2013

31Mar 13

Use Your Five Senses To Become a Dessert Connoisseur

I have recently been retraining myself to slow down when I eat for the purpose of truly appreciating what I’m consuming.  I’m not talking about enjoying the act of eating.  Rather, I’m referring to the use of all my senses to taste food, more specifically desserts, so that my awareness of the texture, color, smell, flavor, and ingredients used enable me to recall them later on when I’m experimenting in the kitchen.

It’s amazing how taking a little extra time to savor a dessert helps you discover a new level of complexity in something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie.  All of sudden, you realize that your taste buds pick up something salty before the sweetness of cookie dough and chocolate spread across your palate.  Or, you realize that the reason you enjoy the cookie so much is that it is a little crunchier from the outside and gooey on the inside.

Even though, at first, I felt silly analyzing my dessert-as I impersonated a wine connoisseur looking for notes of Madagascar vanilla and hints of toasted almonds-the extra effort paid-off when I decided to make pistachio ice cream.

A few months ago, I walked into an ice cream shop and had the most extraordinary pistachio ice cream I’ve ever eaten.   That’s pretty much all I remember from my first visit because by the time I thought to use my senses, it was too late.  But each time I went back to the ice cream shop, I’d take a moment to inspect the ice cream.  It had a soft shade of green that instantly left you feeling calm.   And, what I originally thought were pistachios, actually ended up being bits of pistachio paste.  Finally, the biggest surprise was that the slightly crunchy texture I felt was not pistachios but white chocolate.  Who would have known!  Especially, since it was exclusively labeled as pistachio ice cream.

Well, this past week I recalled the various aspects that made the pistachio ice cream so memorable and incorporated them into my own version, which is listed below.  The result was identical to the one I had eaten at the ice cream shop.  And, I have to admit that the one ingredient that made a world of difference was the white chocolate.  That’s right, the one ingredient that would have gone unnoticed had I not taken a second to contemplate and discover why I enjoyed the ice cream so much in the first place.

Whether you are a pro or just starting to learn to use your senses to appreciate what you consume, I would love to hear about your discoveries and creations.  So, leave a comment or send me an email with any stories or recipes you’ve mastered.


Pistachio Ice Cream Ingredients:
Egg yolks: 4 / 80 grams
Heavy cream: 1 ½ cup / 337 grams
Pistachio paste: ½ of the block
Skim milk: 1 ½ cup / 337 grams
Sugar: 1 cup / 225 grams
Vanilla powder: 2 tablespoons/ 14 grams
White chocolate shavings: 4 -5 tablespoons / 30 grams

Pistachio Paste Ingredients:
Pistachios: ¾ cup / 100 grams
Powdered sugar: ¾ cup /100 grams
Simple syrup: 3 tablespoons / 54 grams (To make simple syrup, place equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan and allow the mixture to come to a boil.  Allow the simple syrup to cool completely before using it. )


1. Combine milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Combine egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla powder into a mixing bowl.
3. Once the milk and cream mixture have come to a boil, add half a cup of it to the bowl containing the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla powder.  Make sure you are constantly mixing the ingredients as you add in the milk and cream mixture so that lumps are not created.  This process is referred to as tempering.  Then, pour the combined mixture into the saucepan containing the remaining milk and cream mixture.
4. Reheat the saucepan and use a thermometer to ensure that the mixture reaches 170-180°F.
5. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
6. To make the pistachio paste, simply add all ingredients to a food processor.  Then, shape the paste into a rectangular block, cover, and refrigerate.
7. After at least 6 hours, remove the ice cream mixture from the refrigerator and pour into the ice cream maker.
8. Add one to two drops of green food coloring to the mixture.  Continue to add food color to get your desired shade of green.
9. After 25 minutes, use your hands or a grater to create pistachio paste shavings and add them to the ice cream maker.
10. Finally, use a grater or knife to create the white chocolate shavings and add them to the ice cream maker.
11. After 30 minutes, pour the ice cream into a container and place in the freezer or serve.

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17Mar 13

Stracciatella Marshmallows

It is true that one can find creative inspiration everywhere but I never expected Peeps to serve as my muse for the creation of Stracciatella Marshmallows.  You read correctly…Peeps…those little marshmallow candies that bombard every grocery store and pharmacy aisle in America about this time of year.  As we become hypnotized by their bright yellow and pink colors, we start to tell ourselves “who cares that they are not truly representative of what a Spring chicken or bunny should look like and why bother contemplating why these sugary treats never seem to melt regardless of how long they are in the microwave.”  For those that think I might be exaggerating, might I point out that only a few weeks ago when our politicians were debating the fiscal future of our country with budget cuts, the Washington Post was announcing calls for participants to join the Seventh Annual Peeps Diorama Contest.  And, it was this particular announcement that reminded me about how absolutely delicious and entertaining marshmallows are in the world of desserts.

So, I started searching for homemade marshmallow recipes and realized that most stick to the same generic vanilla flavored marshmallows with occasional deviations to something a little more unique like peppermint.  But for something so simple to make, there really are endless opportunities to get creative, not only with flavors but also with how you opt to shape your marshmallows.  Below is an easy recipe for Stracciatella Marshmallows that combines a vanilla base layer with shaved milk chocolate and finally topped-off with a chocolate flavored layer of marshmallow that is shaped using a Linzer cookie cutter.


Gelatine: 2 packets
Water, cold: ⅔ cup
Light corn syrup:  ⅔ cup
Salt:  ⅛ teaspoon
Sugar: 1 cup
Vanilla powder: 1 tablespoon
Cocoa powder: 2 tablespoons
Shaved milk chocolate: ½ cup

1. Place ⅓ cup of cold water and gelatine in a standing mixer bowl and whisk on low.

2. Place ⅓ cup of cold water, light corn syrup, salt, and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches 240°F, which should take 8-10 minutes.










3. Once the mixture reaches 240°F, pour it into the standing mixer and whisk on high for 8 minutes.








4. Add in the vanilla powder to the mixture and whisk for another 30 seconds.

5. Pour half of the mixture onto a pan covered with aluminum foil.

6. Use a spatula that has been greased with oil to evenly spread the vanilla marshmallow layer.







7. Sprinkle chocolate savings over the vanilla layer.







8. Now, add in cocoa powder to the remaining mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.

9. Cover the pan with the chocolate layer of marshmallow using the spatula to spread it evenly.







10. Top off with chocolate shavings and powdered sugar.







11. Allow the pan to rest overnight.

12. Use a Linzer cookie cutter to shape the marshmallows.  Apply additional powdered sugar if the marshmallow becomes too sticky.

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03Mar 13

14 Must-have Supplies for Making Memorable Homemade Desserts

The more I bake, the more I’m convinced that anyone is capable of creating wonderful and impressive homemade desserts.  The secret is ensuring you have the proper equipment and use top-notch ingredients.  But, accumulating the proper supplies can be overwhelming, especially when you are new to baking.  There are so many products on the market and, often times, they are sold as items exclusively used for making one particular kind of baked good.  The reality is that you can produce an array of desserts from donuts to croissants to lemon meringue pie with the same 14 must-have baking supplies listed on www.foundingflavors.com.


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