Someone somewhere had this great idea of setting desserts in pretty glass jars (I am sure he or she is French) and people are now making a fortune out of it. I know of a place in Mumbai that sells red velvet jar at Rs 800 (or more); that’s approximately $14, if I have to speak globally.
But it makes absolute sense, doesn’t it? What is the point of creating all those beautiful layers if you can’t even see them? I don’t mean to sound like a fine-dining snob, but food is as much about aesthetics as it is about taste.
I am a lurker; I lurk at food magazines and blogs to take in some beautiful food-styling ideas. I mean, I can go on and on staring at beautiful food pictures for several hours.
During one such moments of lurking I found this beautiful Le Cordon Bleu recipe in a French magazine and I just wanted to make it that instant; it was love at first sight. Not all food pictures do that to you, not to me at least.
I’ve not really worked with hazelnuts a lot and that is strange considering I love making French desserts. Hazelnuts in French pâtisserie are like cashews in Indian dessert making – they are used in making tart shells, caramelized and broken down to make praline, used as macaron fillings and widely used in chocolate and coffee desserts.
There are three layers to this jar – hazelnut cream layer, a coffee cream layer and to top it off, a caramel jelly layer. It might seem complicated, but believe me, it’s not, especially if you are organized.
For Crème Anglaise (English custard)
- 275 ml milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla pod (slit and seeds extracted)
- 80 g caster sugar
Scrap the vanilla seeds, drop it in milk along with the pod. Bring milk to the boil. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together. Pour the boiling milk into the egg yolks mixture while whisking thoroughly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and simmer in medium flam while stirring. Simmer until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard into a clean bowl through a sieve. Allow to cool and cover with cling film.
For 4 glass jars
For hazelnut praline powder
- 25 g hazelnuts, toasted
- 25 caster sugar
In a saucepan, add sugar and hazelnuts. Turn on the heat to a medium flame and place the saucepan. Allow the sugar to caramelize and coat the hazelnuts (an auburn colour). Pour the caramelized hazelnut mixture on an oiled tray. Allow to cool. Blend in a food processor into a fine powder. Set aside.
For caramelized hazelnuts
- 50 g hazelnut, toasted
- 50 g caster sugar
- 100 ml water
Bring water and sugar to the boil in medium heat. Simmer until the mixture becomes blonde (7-8 minutes). Put off the heat and pour the hazelnuts into the sugar mixture. Mix with a spatula and pour it on a greased tray. Once cool, chop the caramelized hazelnuts into pieces. Set aside.
For hazelnut cream
- 2 g gelatin powder
- 50 g praline powder (prepared earlier)
Divide the crème anglaise into two halves. In a bowl, add 3 tbsp of water. Sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 10 minutes or until dissolved. In one half of the crème anglaise, add the praline powder, caramelized hazelnuts (reserve a few for decoration) and the dissolved gelatin mixture. Mix well. Pour the mixture until half of the glass jar is full. Repeat for the remaining jars. Place the jars in the freezer for 10 minutes.
For the coffee cream
- 3 g gelatin powder
- 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
- 2 tbsp coffee extract
- 140 ml whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
In a bowl, add 4 tbsp of water, sprinkle gelatin powder on top and set aside for 10 minutes or until dissolved. In the other half of the crème anglaise, add instant coffee powder, coffee extract and prepared gelatin. Combine well. Fold in the whipped cream. Take the jars out of the freezer and pour the coffee cream mixture until the neck of the jar. Repeat for remaining jars. Replace the jars back in the freezer for 10 minutes.
For the caramel jelly
- 1 g gelatin powder
- 50 g caster sugar
- 50 ml water
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp dark rum (optional)
Add 2 tbsp of water to a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top and set aside. Bring water and sugar to the boil in medium heat. Simmer till the mixture caramelizes and turns into a rich, auburn colour. Put off the heat at this stage, add the butter and the cream. Once the mixture is cool, add the dissolved gelatin. Cool the mixture. Once cool, pour the caramel jelly into the glass jars, till the brim.
Refrigerate for 2 hours until set. Decorate with reserved caramelized hazelnuts before serving.