forest heartbeat

September 24th, 2014 | Posted by greg in Classes & Demo | Recipes | Travel


The massive forest I love to wander in back home is host to a lot of pine trees, and scattered among them are the very special Silver Pine, or at least that’s how we call them back home. They have such an heavenly fresh pine tree smell (I wonder why!) that it’s very easy to get inspired to create. I didn’t have anything in mind, I simply thought that bringing back a small branch would be a good idea. So I picked a branch on a tree that seemed very healthy, trying not to be too destructive to my favorite forest. Then I dried it by hanging the branch outside our mountain Chalet, commonly called Mayen in our area of the Alps.


I had a few projects in the pipeline, including a demonstration at the Restaurant & Bar here in Hong Kong, where few other chefs including Ryan Zimmer or Thierry Marx also did demonstrations, and at the same time, I also had a request from US based Pastry Chef Jimmy MacMillan from Dessert Professional for a choux dessert with a twist. I’ve put all this in my idea bag and shook it well with a pinch of sourdough, single malt whiskey…. and voila!


It resulted in toasted seeds choux filled with a nice and warm freshly made vanilla cream. In order to get a nice seeded crust, I piped the choux pastry in half sphere molds, then froze it. Once hard, I dipped the choux dough in egg wash and then in the mixed seeds to completely cover it, much like breading tempura in bread crumbs! Once defrosted, I baked it as I would bake normal choux. Then, I fill the choux with warm pastry cream just before plating! (one of the best thing on Earth after coffee!)

With that, I thought nice to add a little whiskey caramel sauce made with Yamazaki whiskey that is; which I fell in love with during my recent trip to Osaka. To add a nice crunch, I used our rye sourdough loaf sliced super thinly and toasted until all the chewiness of the bread was out, leaving the skeleton of the bread alone standing on the dish packed with aromas; this addition is surprising, yet fitting well with the smoothness of the frozen blackberry yogurt and the fresh blackberries.


Our Rye Campagne loaf for the shavings – photographed in all its splendor by the talented Josephine Rozman

Adding the super toasted rye sourdough shavings was a rather bold move, but it matched very well in flavor and texture as well of course with the design and the forms of the dessert. After being completely dehydrated and toasted, the shavings are becoming super thin, crisp and full of concentrated rye sourdough flavor. Of course, we are not looking at making a sandwich here! So, the critical point here is to slice it as thin as possible. I sliced it using a very sharp knife and with my loaf partly frozen. Then I dried the shavings on a muffin tray placed up-side-down.

Finally, the home touch is the silver pine sugar. The branch of pine tree I brought back had plenty of time to dry, then I simply used a coffee or spice grinder/blender with white sugar to blend it into a very fine powdered sugar, loaded of pine flavor to the point where it almost had some sort of fresh “eucalyptus” feel to it. You’ll have to strain it a bit as there will be some left over fibers from the needles. I could picture that to be used for a nice and creative opaline, or to be caramelized, blended through a ganache or a guimauve – no need to add chemical flavor here, nature did it all on its own!

When you eat the warm custard filled seeds puffs together with a hint of whiskey caramel sauce, a bite of refreshing blackberry frozen yogurt, a pinch of pine sugar and the super crunch of the rye sourdough, it just feels like all heaven broke loose! ;)  


Photo of myself in the forest taken by 8 year old Clement Michaud ;) 

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