Live Delice-ious with Chandon Delice

‘I don’t believe in the Republican party or the Democratic party. I just believe in parties’ – said Samantha Jones from Sex and the City.

While I may or may not agree with her on most other things, this is surely something I agree with. Come summer and its time to host a zillion get-togethers at home – be it a boozy brunch, a celebration dinner or just another drunken night – we don’t really need a reason to party, do we? Also, considering how hot its getting in the city, the best way to beat the heat is by downing one-two-many glasses of bubbly.

So when I heard that Chandon India is introducing a new sparkling wine variant, I knew I had found my drink for the season. Launched over a fun soiree hosted at TOTE on the Turf, Délice was just as delice-ious as its name. Crafted at the brand’s state-of-the-art winery in Dindori, Nashik, keeping the Indian palate in mind, this vibrant and versatile variant goes perfectly well with spicy Indian flavors. Its versatility comes from the fact that it breaks the typical sparkling wine codes and is best enjoyed when had directly from a tumbler – chilled, on the rocks or with a slice of fruit (preferably a slice of orange).

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Speaking about the new offering, Stéphane de Meurville – Managing Director, Moët Hennessy India said, “At Chandon India, our endeavour has been not only to gain share of heart, but also to introduce new consumers to the Chandon world. One way in which we will do this is by reaching out to consumers who currently shy away from the traditional Brut and Rose style of drinking. Délice is our next step towards consolidating this vision. While the Indian market loves its bubbles, there is still a strong affinity for sweeter drinks and cocktails. Délice is the result of 2 years of extensive research and development by our team of winemakers led by Gustavo Agostini. We are very proud of this new product from the house of Chandon India which we believe will resonate with the Indian consumer.”

The launch was a sparkling affair with some renowned names from the industry. The decor, inspired by a French Fête in an orchard was a visual treat with orange trees bursting through the bar, an ice cream trolley serving Délice ice lollies, and a walkway inspired by the gardens of Versailles. That’s not it. The soiree also brought together 7 of Mumbai’s coolest Chefs like Chefs Alex Sanchez (The Table), Shilarna Vaze and Chris Perrin (Gaia Gourmet), Kelvin Cheung (Bastian and One Street Over), Pooja Dhingra (Le15 Café), Prateek Sadhu (Masque) and Viraf Patel (Café Zoe), each of who prepared dishes inspired from the taste and spirit of Délice.

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Here’s a run down of all the dishes we sampled. So next time you have your girls coming in or a brunch with the fam, you know what you need:

– Mag St. Vada Pav (a tempura-fried potato puree scented with saffron tucked into a buttery brioche roll) by Chef Alex Sanchez (The Table).

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– Szechuan Snapper & Wild Mushrooms by Chef Kelvin Cheung (Bastian & One Street Over) made with corn pudding, corn husk powder and pickled cucumbers (Corn was the main ingredient used in both the dishes as he thought it would go perfectly with Delice’s refreshing fruitiness).

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– Chilly Caramel Truffles, Dark Chocolate Macarons, Ginger Raspberry Financiers by Pooja Dhingra (Le 15 Cafe).

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– Caciocavallo Brûlée with figs and a Char Sui Pork Belly with Chicharrón and green apple by Chef Prateek Sadhu (Masque)…Cheese and sparkling wine are a match made
in heaven.

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– Chevre with watermelon, grape and blueberry by Chef Viraf Patel (Cafe Zoe). His creation was as fresh and fruity as the bubbly.

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I think its time to stock up on Chandon Délice for all your upcoming celebrations. After all what’s a party without some bubbly?

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FYI:
Chandon Délice is available at leading wine boutiques, hotels and restaurants in Mumbai and is priced at INR 1500.

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Cheese Workshop organized by the European Union & CNIEL

The best cheese in the world comes from Europe where artisans and big producers use their ancestral know-how to produce a wide variety of fine cheese. From French Camembert to Italian Burrata, the range of cheese is very diverse.

Today, the dairy industry in the European Union is the most productive and the most successful in the world. Its strict regulations by the European Union and the CNIEL (National Interprofessional Center of the Dairy Economy, France), a privately run organization whose main objective is to promote dairy products and to facilitate relationships between dairy producers and processors, makes cheese from Europe, the best and safest product for the consumer.

In order to promote French cheese, the European Union and CNIEL organized a cheese tasting workshop, this afternoon, with French Chef François Robin at Artisan, Sofitel Mumbai BKC. Awarded the Best Cheese Monger of France, Chef Robin demonstrated exclusive recipes based on the available vegetarian cheese (without any animal rennet) and added a unique Indian touch to create fusion food, using cheese as the main ingredient. ‘Make cheese, not war. Atleast that’s what we do in France,’ he jokingly said. For those of you who don’t know, France has over 2000 different types of cheese – so there’s something for everyone.

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Our workshop started with a tasting of four different types of cheese – Camembert, Chevre, Comté & Roquefort. Blindfolded with our nose blocked, the entire experience depended solely on our taste buds. We could touch and taste but could not see or smell – which makes a world of a difference when it comes to cheese. Camembert with its bloomy rind was my absolute favorite…especially when it was baked and runny. While Chevre was creamy, flavorful and a tad bit salty, Roquefort was intense and had probably been aged for several months. ‘In France, cheese is considered to be a meal for everyone – rich or poor, as it is more affordable than milk,’ said Chef Robin.

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Soon after our tasting, he demonstrated a few quick recipes that were delicious beyond words and super easy to make.

Goat’s cheese or Chevre:
Mix together with chopped coriander in a bowl and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.

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Comté:
Remove the rind. Cut into small pieces. Dip in balsamic vinegar reduction and coat with roasted sesame seeds.

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Camembert:
Bake until the cheese is soft and runny on the inside. Top with toasted nuts OR Mix together finely chopped apricots, pistachios and mascarpone cheese with a little bit of gin. Slice the wheel into two and pipe the mixture in between.

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Chocolate + Coffee = Pure Decadence!

‘Coffee makes it possible to get out of bed, chocolate makes it worthwhile!’ Most of us can’t do without both of them individually but when they come together….It’s a match made in heaven!

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a coffee and chocolate pairing session, brought together by Visit Victoria (official tourism agency of Melbourne & Victoria) with Arno Backes (Founder of Melbourne’s luxury chocolate brand, Gânache Chocolate) and Rahul Leekha (Director – Coffee By Di Bella, India).

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Melbourne, often referred to as the coffee capital of the world, is known for its café culture which is not confined to just excellent coffee – but an experience that goes beyond. Over the years, coffee has evolved from the popular espresso and latte to a more refine, gourmet beverage with connoisseurs analyzing different roasts, flavour profiles and blends of the beans. According to Arno, the capital city of Victoria houses over 2000 cafes. Can you believe it? Fortunately, we can get a feel of their exquisite cafe culture in Mumbai with Coffee by Di Bella. Catching up over a cuppa coffee has become more fun ever since the iconic brand has stepped foot in India. Leisure or business meetings at coffee shops got a new meaning…Thanks to the Australian chain’s innovative and scrumptious selection of food and beverages!

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If you’re in Melbourne, a visit to the luxury chocolate brand is a must. The Master Chocolatier who has been passionate about chocolate all his life has devoted himself to creating superb chocolate creations that taste every bit as good as they look. When Gânache Chocolate started, he had just one Pastry Chef working with him, and now there are 15 highly trained and devoted team members who create everything from chocolate bars to chocolate bunnies, tea cakes to macaron towers and lots more. One can choose from 450 different kinds of products ranging from 80 cents to $500.

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The event started with a specially curated masterclass where mouth-watering chocolates were paired with delicious coffee blends like:

– Sahara blend coffee with Cafe Latte & Irish Cream chocolates:
Coffee Characteristics:
Sharp & full-bodied – best enjoyed by a refined palate.

Chocolate Characteristics:
Cafe Latte – Milk ganache infused with coffee and a hint of cognac, dipped in milk couverture. Dark but not too bitter in taste, it perfectly balanced the sharp and full-bodied coffee with its smoothness.

Irish Cream – Dark ganache infused with coffee, brandy and hazelnut. Milkier than the previous chocolate, sharp hints of hazelnut, espresso and healthy amounts of brandy went well with the strong blend.

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– Premium blend coffee with Noir & Melbourne Mint chocolates:
Coffee Characteristics:
Balanced & smooth – perfect for all coffee loving palates.

Chocolate Characteristics:
Noir – 75% dark chocolate ganache, dipped in 60% dark couverture and decorated with an edible transfer. Rich, smooth and a perfect accompaniment to the creamy coffee blend.

Melbourne Mint – A delicious minty ganache covered in a 60% dark couverture. More subtle than Noir, soft with a hint of mint. Had a lovely mouth-feel.

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I’m sure you’re wondering, how does one pair chocolate and coffee? Keep in mind to start with a light chocolate and gradually move onto a stronger one. Avoid using caramel or anything that’s too sweet – instead use a darker and richer chocolate!

Right after our tasting, the Pastry Chef wove his chocolate filled magic by displaying his fabulous technique of chocolate tempering. He was kind enough to even allow some of us to try our hands at it. Upon being asked why one needs to temper chocolate, he said, ‘Cocoa butter separates from cocoa mass and floats on the top. Tempering prevents that and helps bind the chocolate so it produces a crisp, smooth, glossy and satisfying snap when bitten or cut.’ Chocolate may taste like the best thing on this planet, but guess what? It’s just as or may be more difficult to handle. Even a delay of one second can make all your work go for a toss. The best way to know if your chocolate has been tempered is by dabbing some on your bottom lip or by simply using the knuckle of your fingers since these areas are the most heat sensitive.

After taking us through the process, it was time for the the launch of the highly anticipated Freak Shake! Arno created the sinfully delicious ‘Melbourne Freak Shake’ which we (obviously) got to try. Made with chocolate sauce, ice, chocolate ice cream, hot chocolate, milk, whipped cream, sprinkles, macaroons and and an edible chocolate spoon, its decadence surely left us craving for more.

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Don’t worry. You can sample it too as Freak Shakes are a permanent addition across all Di Bella outlets in Mumbai and the Melbourne Freak Shake will also be part of the menu for a limited period.

By the end of the session, we were all smiling gleefully (courtesy: sugar & caffeine rush!). Though we indulged a whole lot, it was surely worth all the calories!

Chocolate Hacks:
– Storage:
Chocolate should preferably be used at room temperature. Place them in a container and store in the fridge’s bottom-most drawer. Remove 2 hours before use so it maintains its smoothness.

– Cocoa Butter:
Cocoa Butter is a fatty substance obtained by cocoa beans used in confectionery and cosmetics like lipsticks, moisturizers etc. Low melted cocoa butter is used in chocolate.

– The Perfect Hot Chocolate:
A perfect hot chocolate is not made with cocoa powder. It is made by boiling milk and cream with little sugar which when boiled, is mixed in the couverture chocolate. While its hot, it should be strained and then served. If you decide to use alcohol, add either Cointreau, whiskey or brandy. Can also add cinnamon on top just before serving.

– What is Couverture?:
Couverture chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter than regular eating chocolate. Upon receiving, it is melted and tempered properly. After the tempering process, one can add the flavor that needs to go inside the chocolate (For e.g. hazelnut).

Mumbai’s first #HighOctaneLab

Nitrogen-infused cocktails… were the first thing that came to mind when I heard Zorawar Kalra is launching a mixology bar. Known for his brilliance in molecular gastronomy, I was eagerly waiting to see what his latest venture has in store.

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On Saturday evening, the team behind Masala Library, Made In Punjab, Pa Pa Ya and Farzi Cafe (opening soon in Dubai, Mumbai & Bangalore) hosted a spectacular launch party at their highly anticipated #HighOctaneLab – MasalaBar. Located at Bandra’s bustling Carter Road, this mixology bar is surely a fresh change from the regular drink holes in the city.

Strategically positioned above Café Coffee Day, MasalaBar is an ideal spot overlooking the Arabian Sea from where one can enjoy panoramic views of the setting sun. With reflective mirrors and classy interiors, the place has a warm, feel-good vibe to it. Rumored to be the world’s first candle-lit bar, light bulbs have been replaced with old-school candles thereby offering a first-of-its-kind intimate experience. Over 800 organic candles brighten up the place by creating innumerable tints on the walls by reflecting on their generously placed mirrors. Never before have I seen something so beautiful! Imagine lightening a bar with candles only… Now that’s an innovative first, isn’t it?

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As I set my eyes upon the bar, I am transported to Chemistry lecture days that most of us never really took seriously. It’s a sight to see bartenders stir up dramatic cocktails using scientific tools with post-modern techniques and local ingredients like thandai. Their aim is to make you enjoy your drinks like never before with their limited but unique range of signature cocktails – each one known to have an identity of its own! Every one of their heady concoctions has unusual but intriguing names like an An Evening at Chowpatty, Malabar Point, Sunset @ Carter, Bollywood Bhang, and Mumbai Matinee among others. Not just that, their wines and single malt list adds to their expansive beverage section, thus providing a premium bar experience to every guest. Whether you drink or not – be prepared to get intoxicated by simply watching the action at their high octane lab-like set up.

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Photo Credit – Anurag Banerjee

A perfect accompaniment to the bar is their innovative tapas menu that offers a selection of various dishes. From classic bar bites like Fish Fingers to Carbon Pav Bhaji, a modernized take on the regular street speciality, the menu has interesting choices to pick from. Other options include buns and sliders, fries, lip-smacking Pork Ribs, Chicken Wings, Khari Naan Khatai and lots more. Though I couldn’t sample all of it on Saturday, I enjoyed what I tried. However, don’t raise your expectations too high with the food as the focus here is mainly on the drinks.

MasalaBar will surely be the city’s buzzing neighborhood bar once it opens to public (opening on 16th March). Upon being asked about his newest space, Zorawar Kalra said, “From the most ancient form of illumination to the most cutting edge form of intoxication, MasalaBar seamlessly imbibes technologies of different eras. It surely is the next level, of the next level!” As of now, this seems to be the most promising bar among the relatively newer bars in the suburbs – but let’s just wait and watch.

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View my food journey on Zomato!

5 things that happened at the #GoCheeseTastingEvent

If you’re following me on social media, I’m sure you know by now that I recently attended the #GoCheeseTastingEvent organized by Femina in association with Go Cheese at blueFROG, Mumbai with Chef Ranveer Brar.

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Selfie with Ranveer Brar

Here are 5 things that happened at the event:

– The afternoon started on a funny note with standup comedian Angad Singh Ranyal’s hilarious act. The Pirated Sardar surely left the audience in splits with his wise cracks and one liners. All the Punjabi’s in the house were seen laughing out loud to his famous line – Punjabi’s either create history or catastrophe!

– Next, Mr. Mahesh Israni, CMO of Parag Milk Foods took to stage to brief us about Go Cheese. ‘There are over 2200 varieties of cheese available all over but still India consumes only 9% of cheese. Our aim is to change that,’ he said. The company is divided into three categories – Gowardhan (focuses on kitchen consumption like ghee, paneer, etc), Go (targets the youth with its quirky brand image), Pride of Cows (premium farm milk in Mumbai & Pune).

– Soon after, celebrity chef Ranveer Brar took centre stage and was warmly welcomed with a thundering round of applause. He introduced us to the different varieties of Go Cheese and also to his specially curated cheese themed menu. Out of all the varieties available, he recommends trying Go Cheese’s Almette that will soon be available in the market.

– After an interactive session with Chef Ranveer, the audience sipped on wine while relishing their scrumptious cheese platter. A variety of mains and desserts made with cheese were also served.

– According to Ranveer Brar:
1) Wine and cheese go well together because of their acidity
2) The combination of Earl Grey and Cheddar are a match made in heaven
3) Mild Cheddar and Indian Spices will leave you craving for more
4) When you have garma-garam samosas with Gouda, you wont be able to stop yourself at just one
5) While baking, try to blend two or more cheeses. Parmesan is perfect, if you’re looking for a crumbly texture while Mozzarella gives you a creamier texture
6) Try mixing Parmesan and White Chocolate for dessert and you’ll be licking your fingers and maybe even the bowl after you’re done
7) During winter, enjoy mature cheeses and even Blue cheese along with some crackers

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Angad Singh Ranyal shows us how girls pose for pictures

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Mr. Mahesh Israni talks about Go Cheese

Our scrumptious cheese platter

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Our gift hamper

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Goodies inside the hamper

Sweet dreams are made of cheese…who am I to dis-a-Brie!

How to make Cheese Pakoras with Go Cheese:
Ingredients:
– 1 cup Go Cheese Angles
– 1 onion thinly chopped
– 4 green chillies thinly chopped
– 1 cup Bengal gram flour (besan)
– 2 tbsp corn flour
– 1/2 tsp cumin powder
– A pinch of black pepper powder
– A pinch of baking soda
– 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
– Fresh cilantro chopped
– Salt to taste
– Oil to deep fry

Method:
– Take a big bowl and mix the flours, onion, green chillies, baking soda, salt, cilantro and spices
– Add little water for making the average consistency pakora batter. Make sure there are no lumps
– Heat oil in a pan. Dip each Go Cheese Angle one by one into the batter, coat from all the sides and drop into hot oil
– Deep fry few at a time until pakora turns crispy and little brown
– Remove on oil absorbent paper and serve hot with coriander chutney and tomato sauce.

Macaroon Demonstration by Le Cordon Bleu’s Pâtisserie Chef Nicolas Houchet

World renowned in the culinary industry and with a heritage expanding over 120 years, Le Cordon Bleu is one of the finest institutions in the world that offers a wide range of courses in cuisine, pâtisserie, wine and management. It is dedicated to providing excellence in culinary arts for all of its 20,000 annual students, across 40 schools in 20 countries. Le Cordon Bleu recently visited India with Pâtisserie Master Chef Nicolas Houchet who led pâtisserie demonstrations at various locations across the country.

Chef Nicolas has participated in several competitions, coming 2nd in the French festival National du Croquembouche in 2002 and 11th in the festival International du Croquembouche in 2004. He worked as an apprentice for Restaurant Hammerer, a pâtisserie, chocolaterie and boulangerie in Nancy for five years where he mastered pâtisserie as he trained under award-winning mentor, Jean Claude Hammerer (Pastry Chef of the year 2000). Since then, there’s been no looking back for him. At the prestigious 5-star Le Grand Hotel de la Reine, he worked as Chef de Partie before moving to London where he set up Pâtisserie Macaron and worked as Head Chef for 5 years and Director for 2 years. In 2010, he joined Le Cordon Bleu London and has been teaching pâtisserie to budding bakers ever since.

During the institute’s recent trip to Mumbai, Chef Nicolas demonstrated his expert techniques at the exquisite Sofitel Mumbai BKC. I was fortunate to attend this amazing demo and learn the art of making perfect macaroons from the award-winning master chef himself. Not only did he demonstrate how to make the most delectable macaroons, he also took us through life at the esteemed institute by sharing interesting anecdotes. The demonstration was soon followed by a quick Q&A and a much-awaited tasting session.

With Master Chef Nicolas Houchet

Entremet 1 L’Été indien (Eggs free entremet):

Light chocolate mousse:
300 gr dark chocolate
225 gr milk
500 gr whipping cream
5gr gr gelatine

Method:
Soak the gelatine in cold water
Heat up the milk and dissolve the gelatine in. Gradually pour over the chocolate and stir to form a shiny mass, once cooled to 30C add in the whipped whipping cream
Use immediately or cool down further in such a way that you should be able to pipe the mousse

Mango and Lime jelly:
200 gr mango puree
50 gr lime juice
75 gr caster sugar
8 gr gelatine

Method:
– Heat up the juice and puree with the sugar
– Add in the soaked gelatine
– Pour in a mould/ring/fudge pan and let it set for 45min minimum in a freezer

Moist cocoa sponge:
100 gr T55 flour
100 gr dark brown sugar/Muscovado sugar
25 gr cocoa powder
8gr soda bicarbonate
125 gr water
50 gr vegetable oil/olive oil
10 gr balsamic vinaigar
10 gr vanilla extract

Method:
– Sieve all the dry ingredients together
– Add in gradually the wet ingredients until they combine
– Spread on baking sheet and bake for 12-16min at 180C

Glacage chocolat:
145 gr water
195 gr sugar
120 gr whipping cream
12 gr gelatin leaf
60 gr cocoa powder

Method:
– Soak the gelatin leaves in ice cold water, once softened drain off the excess water
– Place the caster sugar, water, cocoa powder and whipping cream into a pan and bring to a boil
– Take off the heat and add in the gelatin, blend with the hand blender and then pass through a fine sieve. Place into the fridge until ready to use

Decoration:
Tempered dark chocolate
Sugar garnishes
Fresh mango x1
Fresh limes x2

Entremet 2: Fraicheur Citron (Gluten FREE)

Flourless Cocoa and pistachios Sponge:
120 gr egg yolks
75 gr caster sugar
180 gr egg whites
75 gr caster sugar
35 gr cocoa powder
50 gr chopped pistachios

Method:
– Whisk egg yolks and 75 gr sugar until pale
– Make a meringue with the remaining sugar and egg whites
– Incorporate the meringue to the blanched egg yolks
– Incorporate the cocoa powder and spread out onto baking paper, sprinkle the top with pistachios
– Bake for 12 min at 180C

White chocolate and lime mousse:
150 gr whipping cream
70 gr egg yolks
10 gr gelatine
350 gr white chocolate
450 gr whipping cream
2 lime zest

Method:
– Cook an anglaise with the egg yolks and the 150 gr of whipping cream, add the soaked gelatine
– Pour the anglaise over the white chocolate in 3 inclusions
– Once cooled to 30c, add the whipped cream
– Use immediately

Lemon and lime Cremeux:
200 gr lemon juice
1 lemon zest
1 lime zest
175 gr caster sugar
3 eggs
50 gr egg yolks
140 gr butter
5 gr gelatine

Method:
– Cook the lemon juice, zests, sugar, egg yolks and whole eggs to the boil, add in the gelatine
– Once cooled down to 40c , incorporate the butter until fully emulsified
– Pour inside a mould and chill for 1h, it can also be piped after reconstitution

Yellow Glacage:
135 gr water
165 gr caster sugar
115 gr whipping cream
9 gr gelatine
75 gr white chocolate
White and yellow food colouring

Method:
– Combine cream sugar and water and bring to a boil, add the gelatine, then to the melted chocolate
– Let it cool and thicken before application

Decoration:
1x lemon
1x lime
Caramel garnishes
500gr dark or white chocolate

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Chef Nicolas’ tip for aspiring pâtisserie chefs – Persevere. The first few months in a working environment are very hard work and it’s important to keep on going at this stage. Also, never forget the basic techniques – it’s nice to want to make complicated sugar work or fancy desserts but the basics are the most important skills to have. Remember the fewer ingredients in a recipe, the harder it is to get right.