As you can tell from the title, our new article will travel us a long time ago… into the kitchens of the Royal Pavilion in 19th century Brighton, where we will meet great confectioner Antonin Carême. The book Δέκα by former journalist and now pâtissière Despina Antypa published by Potamos Publishers will take us there. In the end, as usual, we will make our dessert, chocolate truffles with whiskey according to a recipe from the book!
Despina Antypa, as we have read in her CV, after having worked for many years in newspapers and TV channels, she attended pastry classes for two years and created an online business of macarons with Greek flavours. Today she is employed at the five-star Steigenberger Wiltcher’s hotel in Brussels as a pâtissière.
Despina Antypa lost her job because of the crisis, changed her profession and left Greece. As she mentions in her book, pastry was the hand that saved her from drowning. In her book she has included the ten recipes for her ten favourite desserts. “Sweets that survived global wars and natural disasters, that surpassed the boundaries of countries and political systems, that characterised an era and then the next one and the next one.”
Let’s let her take us a while ago, with her book as a vehicle and Antonin Carême as a driver… Let’s arrive at the kitchens of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, where ideal conditions for the time prevailed, secured by the great confectioner Antonin Carême in 1816 from Prince of Whales and later George IV.
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is an impressive building with a rooftop of Indian turrets, renovated by the famous architect John Nash. In this imposing building, as we have read in the book Δέκα, there were five pastry rooms and an ice storage connected to the central kitchen of 150 sq.m. At the time, due to the sensitive to temperature and humidity materials, the patisserie was always in a different place from the kitchen.
According to Despina Antypa “bronze, shiny, well-polished utensils covered the wall from end to end like a wallpaper”. In the centre of the space stood the first in history heated table. What is that? It is an invention that solved a problem of the times, a table that could keep warm a hundred plates for over an hour. What was the need for that? From the Middle Ages until 19th century plates weren’t served consecutively like today but all together, according to the so-called french service (service à la française). Carême started the Russian service (service à la russe) according to which food was served consecutively, the next one coming after the preceding has been eaten.
The kitchen of the Brighton Pavilion, as we have read in the book Δέκα, was had lots of natural light, something very important for the employees. As Carême later wrote “the false day that artificial light creates weakens your eyesight”.
Ιn the book Δέκα we have read that Antonin Carême wasn’t particularly beloved by his co-workers and the kitchen’s staff. Except for his difficult and smug character, as well as the favorable treatment by his employers, at the time there was another reason. In the kitchens of the time there was the custom of selling what was left over from the aflouent meals to be sold by the staff, who would share the profits. Carême’s dishes at the Royal Pavilion were sold a hundred times more expensive than the rest. He decided to keep all the profits to himself, and we can imagine what he would look like to the rest of the staff.
Despina Antypa narrates how Carême found consolation in his saucepans and that “the bigger his sorrow, the more complicate the preparation he would make to ease it”. One of the desserts he would turn to were chocolate truffles.
Chocolate truffles demand time, attention and precision, and this is why we like them a lot! So, let’s make chocolate truffles trying to approach -as much as we can of course- the way Carême made them: from a large piece of chocolate he would make slices so thin that they would melt in his hands. He would boil milk and as soon as it started boiling he would pour it over the chocolate. He would move the bowl circularly and let it stand for a few minutes. Three minutes latee he would stir with a hand whisk with fast and decisive movements, stirring as little as possible, so that the ganache doesn’t become dull and heavy. Then he would pour half a glass of whiskey, and as soon as the temperature dropped enough he would add butter. King George liked the combination of chocolate and whiskey a lot!
Truffes au chocolat
*We are translating the original recipe, as it is published in the book.
|200 gr heavy cream 40 %|
|60 gr glucose syrup|
|410 gr chocolate 55%|
|10 gr butter at room temperature|
|40 gr whiskey|
Boil the heavy cream with the glucose. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and pour the warm cream on top. Stir until dissolving and getting a uniform texture. Add the whiskey. Add the butter and mix with a hand blender.
The author suggests covering the truffles as follows: Melt chocolate in the microwave and dip the truffles with a fork or a wooden straw. Shake the fork well on the walls of the bowl to remove all the excess chocolate and immediately after put them in cocoa. Make sure they are well covered. Then place them one by one on a plate and put them in the fridge. Because chocolate is not tempered (that is, it has not been processed properly), truffles should be refrigerated to be crispy.
Happy creations everyone!