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Fruit Vinegar

Pear Vinegar (infused with chamomile) and Concord grape vinegar (infused with lemon thyme) 

When people think of vinegar, salad dressings and pickles usually spring to mind. Rarely does one think of fruit. But after staring wistfully at the couple hundred apple cores left from Thanksgiving pies, I researched fruit vinegars to use these fruit scraps that would otherwise be resigned to the trash heap. There are many ways to make vinegar but the simplest method is to ferment sugar into alcohol which is then oxidized into vinegar. Fruit, ripe with sugar, quickly ferments into alcohol so exposing it to air often spontaneously results in vinegar, much like wine that was forgotten about for decades or more. And like wine, fruit vinegars can preserve the aroma and flavor of fruit well past their harvest months. Peach, cherry, pear, raspberry, Concord grape, apple…any fruit is fair game for making vinegar.

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Orchid and Pearl

Orchid and Pearl

Cake is not just dessert. Cake is a nostalgic treat of joy. Cake celebrates childhood, family, and fertility. An anniversary, a birth, a marriage (and sometimes divorce), they’re all special occasions that we celebrate with cake. My early attempts at baking cake were abysmal and Duncan Hines strawberry frosting rescued an under-baked cake, sagging under the weight of its rawness, on more occasions than I’m willing to admit. Still, I loved baking cakes because I created a joyful experience, limited only by my imagination, and it’s still the reason why I bake today.

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Unbalanced and under~seasoned desserts:  A sweet dessert is not always a good dessert. Sweet is a taste, not a flavor, that sometimes needs to be balanced with salt or acid if one is expected to keep eating… and enjoying.

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Water Ganache

A bowl of seized chocolate
A chocolatier’s worse nightmare.

Watering down my chocolate goes against everything I’ve been taught.  Should a few drops of water land in my chocolate, disaster! My chocolate is no longer fit for duty. As it turns out, mixing water into chocolate isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Banana Consommé

I have this weird obsession with fruit consommés. I usually use the agar filtration technique to clarify fruit consommés but this technique can span three days and sometimes fruit does funky things when frozen and thawed. I had vacuum sealed a couple of bananas with vanilla bean and sprigs of lemon thyme to infuse the banana puree for a cake but when I noticed a clear liquid draining from the pulp, of course my first thought was: consommé!

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Popcorn Flour

Popcorn Powder

Popcorn Flour

For some inexplicable reason, the only way to buy popcorn kernels from my distributors is in 50 lb bags. 50 pounds makes a gargantuan amount of popcorn. (Or you could grind the kernels into cornmeal.) I went on a madcap adventure of popcorn mousse, popcorn ice cream, and popcorn pudding dessert specials. The endless popcorn infusions got tiring and I wondered what would happen if I dumped a bunch of popcorn in a food processor…

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