Written by: Grace Cheung
Photos courtesy of Hill & Knowlton Strategies
Recently I was invited to an amazing event at Edible Canada, held in in Granville Island,Vancouver, BC. This extravaganza was hosted by Wendy Boys of Cocolico, a local chocolatier and pastry chef, along with Canadian Master Coffee Roaster representative, Marie-Claude Dessurealt of Van Houtte Coffee. Not only would all guests discover our own Coffee Profiles, but we would also savor a delectable assortment of great desserts as well, many of them made right before our eyes.
Although I was late in arriving, waiting for me at my seat were 6 different kinds of chocolate to pair with 6 different types of coffee profiles. Soon I learned that I’m categorized as Velvety and Woodsy. Marie-Claude of Van Houtte taught us about our palates and individual tastes in order to discover which of the six coffee profiles we were. Finally, you arrive at your own distinct profile after a short 6-question survey.
After this first sampling, our group moved over to the kitchen where we got a first-hand look at Wendy Boys making her scrumptious Classic Éclairs! First she shows us how to make Choux Paste, which is a blend of water, milk, butter, eggs and flour. Next a mixture of the water, milk, butter and sugar is heated, then all the flour is dumped in at once, and stirred aggressively!
Next we make the dough in the mixer by slowly adding the eggs and mixing well until everything comes together. Once the eggs are incorporated completely, Wendy put the dough into a piping bag and we move on to the next step. At this point, the dough has great gluten texture. An easy way to check the texture is to simply put some of the mixture between your index finger and thumb...if it sticks when you try to separate then its ready!
Next the dough is piped onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet in 2 inch pieces, then into the oven they go for about 12-16 minutes. While we are waiting for the pastries to cook, we make the vanilla cream. Combining a mixture of sugar and egg yolks with flour and cornstarch is a tricky process.
You have to ensure that when you add the liquid (hot milk steeped with vanilla bean) that you are tempering it so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs. After this mixture is incorporated, you put the whole thing back onto the stove and add gelatin. Let it cool to room temperature and then add in whipping cream.
Once the pastries are out of the oven, two holes are poked in each end and the vanilla cream is piped inside. (Gosh, just seeing these pictures again is making me want more éclairs)! To finish the dessert, Wendy adds a chocolate glaze. Every éclair gets to take a dip in the heavenly chocolate sauce. But wait… it’s not over yet, they also get a dusting of chocolate.
All in all, the whole process takes a little more than an hour, but it is a lot of effort. To be honest, a freshly made éclair is a decadent treat, and I am sure I could have eaten a dozen by myself!
To match more coffee profiles, Wendy also prepared a whole host of other desserts. One of my favorites was the lemon and white chocolate macaroons. I don’t mind telling you, I scored 4 of these “to-go”! This was meant for the Mellow and Fruity profile, with Costa Rica Light Roast.
Wendy also made us some delightful Pot de Crème with milk chocolate. I do love how the pinch of Maldon Salt adds a new level of flavors to a dessert dish. This one was designed for the Mellow and Woodsy flavor profile and was served with a Mocha Java Light Roast.
Ah…anything tastes better on a stick, right? And the Raspberry Chocolate Lollipop was no exception…so rich and dense that one pop is all you need. For this very rich dessert, the best coffee to pair it with is the Sumatra Dark Roast, which matches a Bold and Woodsy profile.
One new item for me was the Banofffee Pie. It’s a tasty concoction of Caramel cream with banana slices, and toffee bits. This was amazing and a treat that might just make me a banana lover again! And if you are a Bold and Fruity profile person, you’ll enjoy this even more with a nice Kenya Dark Roast.
The other dessert that Wendy created in front of us was the Cocoa Nib Pannacotta. She made the pannacotta ahead of time, but showed us how to make the topping.
It’s a simple salad of Clementine’s, mint and lime. She infused the mint into the simple syrup and used it to dress the Clementine’s. Then she grated 99% cocoa on top of it all. Yes, 99%…that’s not a typo! This refreshing dessert pairs well with the Africana Fair Trade Organic Medium Roast, a match made in heaven for the Velvety and Fruity profile.
Be sure to check out Van Houtte’s website to Discover Your Coffee Profile. We all have wines varietals that we like better than others; it’s time you find out your coffee preference too, don’t you think?
It was a great event and one that gives me a whole new respect for the delicateness of these desserts we so often take for granted, and some new ones I never heard of too. I hope you enjoyed this very detailed tutorial, and now, armed with the recipes, I just might take a stab at making one this weekend! How about you?
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Grace Cheung to to the DinnerReviews.com© exclusive family of international food critics.
Grace Cheung - Grace has always had a fork in one hand, and a pen in the other as she eats her way throughVancouver’s restaurant scene with a discerning bite. She spends her day scouring the best eateries and racking up frequent dining points. In between meals, she works as a marketer for a financial firm and also has her own company, providing social media services to local restaurants and entertainment venues. Must haves: Blackberry, iPad, and a nice Barolo. Monitor the feasting at GraceCheung604.com or in realtime on Twitter @gracecheung604.