75 Blog posts, almost 10.000 clicks, one year Spermalie and a lot of pictures later, this is what I’m able to make. I don’t know if you ever saw my first blog post, but I made a pesto. (First post ever: Duo di pesto) I still make pesto, and I make it even very often. That’s not the level I want to reach, though. With the support of Spermalie and the advice of some great chefs, like @punksweets_27 and @chefjeanluc, I want to improve my cooking skills time after time, dish after dish. The sky is the limit. That sky is still far away, but practice is everything, you know. Sometimes I want to compete with the real chefs and it’s frustrated when I logically fail. However, practice is everything. Thanks to this blog, you can, and also I can, see my evolution post after post. It’s satisfying to see that what started with an easy pesto, ended up in an already good-looking dessert. It’s not perfect, but with the advice of some crazy dessert chefs, I will improve. You can’t beat Usain Bolt, before you know how to walk. Fabricando fit faber or practice makes perfect.

The dessert, you see, is a dish I made with the leftovers of the dessert of one of the “events of 2012”: “The Food & Whisky Battle” (see also: The Battle of Usquebaugh). Here’s how to make it. A big advantage is that you can make everything the day before.

1. Strawberry cake with fresh strawberries

What do you need? 4 eggs, 250gr sugar, 250 gr butter, 250 gr self-rising flour, a bit of strawberry coulis

What do you do? It’s based on the recipe of a normal “Quatre Quart Cake”. (KAV Koken voor elke dag, pg 649) Quatre Quart is the same as a Pound cake or a “4 fourths” cake. Pour the sugar in a large bowl. Mix with the egg yolks. Pour the melted butter. Blend it in with a wooden spoon until smooth. Slowly add the sifted flour and incorporate it gradually as it falls on the batter. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the egg whites to the batter. Add the coulis. Take a buttered cake mold. Pour the batter. Bake 45 minutes in a preheated oven on 175°C. Use a stainless steel ring to cut out a nice pink cake slice. Finish with some fresh strawberries.

2. Jelly Rhubarb 

What do you need? 100 gr rhubarb coulis (cook the rhubarb with sugar, blend it and strain it), 20 gr sugar, 1,8 gr agar-agar

What do you do? Bring the sugar, the rhubarb coulis and the agar-agar to the boil. It’s really important that the mixture boils. Pour it on a plate and refrigerate. When the mixture is stiffen, blend it until you have a creamy mixture. Pour in a piping bag and put aside.

3. Bitter Chocolate streak

What do you need? 50 grams bitter chocolate, a Tbsp cream

What do you do? Melt the chocolate “au bain marie”. Add the cream. Use a brush to draw a streak.

4. Strawberry coulis

What do you do? Two handful of strawberries, one Tsp sugar

What do you need? Blend the fruit and strain. When strained, add the sugar to the juice and heat it.

 5. Bitter chocolate crémeux

What do you need? 60gr milk, 110gr cream, 45gr egg yolk, 35 gr sugar, 100 gr bitter chocolat, 1/2 gelatin sheet, extra spices added by my: a bit of cayenne pepper, black pepper, a vanilla pod (cut in two lengthwise) and star anise

What do you do? Beat up the yolks with the sugar “au ruban”. Cook the milk and the cream with the spices for 15 minutes. Soak the sheet of gelatin in cold water. Melt the chocolate in the milk. Add the gelatin to the milk. Pour the milk on the “ruban”. Pour in a piping bag and place it in the fridge. 

(changed by me, but based on a recipe of one-star chef Boury in Knack Weekend magazine)

6. Brésilienne of pistache with crushed Napoléon BonBon

What do you need? 25 gr pistachios + 10 gr pistachios, 10 gr butter, 50 gr sugar, 20 gr Napoléon sour candy balls

What do you do? Roast all the pistachios, coarsely chop the nuts. Caramelize the (use 25 gr of ) nuts in the sugar and butter. Pour it on a plate and let it cool. When cooled down, blend the nuts. Blend also 10 gr of roasted pistachios and 20 gr of the Napoléon candy. Mix the three different blends. You get a delicious mix of the pistachios brésilienne with the sour touch of the Napoléon candy.

7. Jelly Napoléon candy

This recipe is from Sven Coryn, the chef patissier of De Oosthoek, a one-star restaurant in Knokke. I don’t want to copy it, so you can find the recipe here.

8. Jelly strawberry

What do you need? 100 gr strawberry coulis, 20 gr sugar, 1,8 gr agar-agar

What do you do? Bring the sugar, the strawberry coulis and the agar-agar to the boil. It’s really important that the mixture boils. Pour it on a plate and refrigerate. When the mixture is stiffen, blend it until you have a creamy mixture. Pour in a piping bag and put aside.

It’s not so much work as you would think. Don’t forget that you can make everything in advance. I know it’s perfect yet, but remember “practice is everything”.

Thanks to Mattias Camps for the support in the kitchen and Sven Coryn for the advice.