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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Carte D'Or Dessert Masterclass with Jean-Christophe Novelli

I was VERY excited to be invited to a Dessert Masterclass with Jean-Christophe Novelli courtesy of Carte D'Or and their Ice Cream Sundays campaign.

The Masterclass was held at the Jean-Christophe Novelli Cookery School in rural Herfordshire.  It was an amazing day and I learnt so much!

After a long train journey, a dash through the enormous St Pancras train station, another train journey and a taxi ride - I finally arrived at the gorgeous 14th Century home and cookery school of the delectable Jean-Christophe Novelli .  The taxi driver had an  unusual sense of direction and navigation was rather hit and miss but I got there in the end, thanks to Google Maps on my phone and directions from Neil our fabulous PR.

The Jean-Christophe Novelli Cookery School, which is also his home, is breathtaking.  There are extensive gardens and views over the countryside.  It's a lovely rural setting but is still fairly close to Luton Airport.

The Cookery School has a mahoooosive multi-oven cooker with an enormous amount of gas hob rings which gave us all a severe case of cooker envy.  Here's only one half of it, my camera couldn't do the whole cooker justice, it was so HUGE.

So, after a long journey we were greeted by the very lovely Jean Christophe and offered coffee and/or Champagne.  After managing to stop swooning at the gorgeous Jean Christophe, but only just, we started the Masterclass.  Jean Christophe was fab and answered all our questions and queries - nothing was too much trouble.  He is incredibly knowledgeable and was more than happy to share time saving and flavour enhancing tips, hints and techniques with us.  I learnt SO much!!  

Jean-Christophe showed us how to make the dishes we were going to be eating for lunch.  The starter was a stunning Sea Bass in Rich Tomato Sauce which tasted amazing, and the main was slow roasted pork belly with Boulangere potatoes.  The pork belly, which had been cooking for almost 6 hours, was melt-in-the-mouth tender.  Jean Christophe also showed us how to make a rich gravy using fresh filter coffee grounds and a little cocoa powder.  I was struggling to find polite words for how good it all tasted. Oh my goodness it was utterly divine!

The side dishes we had with lunch. NOM NOM NOM!!
The lovely Richard who assisted Jean Christophe during the Masterclass

Anyway, on to the purpose of the day.  The desserts Masterclass was fab! The recipes use two new Carte D'Or ice cream flavours - Macadamia Night and Cherry Blossom.  They're part of the new Carte D'Or Ice Cream Sundays campaign.

The Masterclass covered 4 delicous and really easy dessert recipes, all of which (and a few more) are available on the Ice Cream Sundays website - complete with videos. 
I'll only feature two of the recipes in this post but may post more recipes over the next couple of weeks to tempt your tastebuds. 
Here's the recipes - from Jean-Christophe Novelli via the Carte D'Or website:

Jean-Christophe Novelli’s Summer Baked Alaska
450g soft fruits – strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackberries

Splash of water

Star anise

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Approximately half a white loaf or very thin slices of Genoese sponge cake

Sprinkle of caster sugar

For the meringue:

6 egg whites

Pinch of salt

250g caster sugar

½ vanilla pod

Carte D’Or Cherry Blossom ice cream (300g)

Caster sugar for dusting

The night before . . . .Toss the fruit and the spices, along with a splash of water, into a hot pan and let it simmer. After 3 minutes, take it off the heat and remove the star anise before you cover up your purée and let the flavours infuse.

Cut the crusts off the bread and lightly toast the slices. Or if you’re using sponge cake, cut it very thinly and toast it in a dry hot pan.

Drizzle a bit of fruit puree into the bottom of 6 dariole moulds and line them with the toasted bread (or sponge). Remember to keep some slices back for the tops.

Spoon in the rest of the fruit purée mixture and top with a toasted slice, then press it all down firmly. Balance a heavy plate on top of the puddings and leave them overnight in your fridge.

On the day . . . . . . .Place six scoops of Carte D’Or Cherry Blossom ice cream in the fridge for 3 hours prior to serving.

Now for the meringue. Add a pinch of salt to your egg whites and roughly whisk, then add 2-3 teaspoons of caster sugar, along with the vanilla seeds and start whisking again until the mixture is stiff.  Sprinkle in the remaining sugar and spoon all of the mixture into a piping bag.

Turn out the puddings onto a heatproof plate and balance a scoop of Carte D’Or ice cream on the top of each one. Quickly pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cover the puddings completely. Give them a dusting with caster sugar and flash them under a hot grill until the meringue is golden. Speed is of the essence.

Serve immediately and tuck in at once, before the ice cream melts!

White Chocolate Macadamia Bon Bons

Serves: 6

1 tub Carte D’Or Macadamia Night Ice cream

250 g good quality white chocolate

Using a melon baller, scoop as many balls of Macadamia Night as desired and place on a tray covered with baking paper

Return tray to freezer for 30 mins to firm up the ice cream again

Just before you’re ready to remove the ice cream, break the white chocolate into pieces and place into a microwave proof bowl and place in the microwave

Cook on medium for 1-2 minutes or until the chocolate has melted. Stir until smooth

Remove the ice cream balls from the freezer. Stick a cocktail stick in a ball, spoon over the melted chocolate to cover and return to the tray, removing the cocktail stick. Repeat quickly with the remaining scoops.

Return to the freezer until ready to serve.  To serve, stack on a chilled plate and place in the centre of the table for guests to help themselves

*This would also work with Cherry Blossom Carte D’Or and dark chocolate*

The desserts that Jean Christophe has created for the Ice Cream Sundays campaign are really easy but also delicious and impressive.  You can whip them up for a family treat or serve them at a dinner party to WOW your guests with your culinary brilliance.  Either way, I totally recommend you give them a go.  We all had an amazing day and discovered that making tasty desserts is not has complicated as you might think.  Even using caramel to make spun chocolate bowls and twirls is much easier than I thought.  Have fun creating the fab puddings on the Ice Cream Sundays website!

It was a fabulous day, we all received a surprise cookbook at the end of the Masterclass which Jean Christophe happily signed for us. The lovely Jan from A Glug Of Oil was there too, as well as Kavey from Kavey Eats

A HUGE thank you to Neil and Mel, the lovely PR's who organised the Masterclass and dealt with all the transport issues whilst still remaining both polite and sane.

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