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Pastry-making is more than recipes and techniques; it is a unique blend of art and science that appeals to the senses and the emotions. For us, pastry-making is all about taste, and its purpose is to evoke emotions that will live on as unforgettable memories.
It is true that we do not eat desserts and other sweets to acquire our daily intake of vitamins and minerals; however, they contribute to our well-being at the sensory level. They provide pleasure. A moralist might say that we have to eat to live, not live to eat. Yet, as pâtissiers/chocolatiers, we know that many people still find pleasure in eating and drinking well.
Creating an unforgettable sweet experience takes time. Although many of the desserts in this book can be made relatively quickly, they are not fast foods. Preparing desserts that evoke emotion means investing effort and devoting passion for the sole purpose of providing pleasure for you and your guests. These are the memories that will last forever.
The recipes in this book are our memories, the documented account of our evolution. They are dishes inspired by the people, cultures, customs and traditions we've encountered in our international travels that have forged our philosophy and shaped our approach to pastry and chocolate design. These recipes reflect our style of desserts--the way we like to eat them, the way we like to create them and the way they evoke emotion for us.
We believe that food preparation is 60% ingredients and 40% technique; that is, the success of a dessert relies in large part on the quality of its ingredients. Prepare your desserts with the purest and finest foods at their seasonal peaks--including as many wild foods as possible--and you are already two-thirds of your way to success. The rest depends on techniques, tricks and, most importantly, chemistry.
To turn out perfect desserts, it helps to understand something about this science. Pastry-making and chemistry are identical: they are both based on time and temperature. The basic premise is that foods exposed to heat for a certain amount of time change from a raw state to a cooked one. If you understand the stages of the process and the potential pitfalls, you can anticipate and/or prevent failure. Throughout this book, we have included information on several of the main processes so that you can confidently tackle any preparation--and yield consistently great outcomes.
We sometimes hear that nothing's really new anymore in pastry-making, that any possible recipe has already been created. We disagree. We continue to find new ways to innovate by using non-traditional exotic and wild ingredients--Szechwan pepper, salmonberries, bee pollen, Hon pears, shiso, black truffles--and emphasizing multidimensional tastes, such as sweet and sour and the less-common bitter and salty combination. Our desserts are full of aroma, character and intense flavours, they're light in texture and healthful in content, and they are not too sweet in taste.
Although you will need to be precise--using a scale and other measuring tools--to successfully reproduce these recipes, there is a lot of room for interpretation. We encourage you to use our recipes as starting points for your own experimentation. Substitute other ingredients if certain foods are unavailable, out of season or not to your liking. For example, if you do not like curry or you do not want to use it in desserts, replace it with cinnamon. If using chicon seems too daunting, use a braised apple instead. If you're pressed for time, just omit the décor. Or plan ahead: many of the components can be made ahead of time and stored frozen and/or in airtight containers without any loss of quality. However, never compromise on the freshness and quality of the ingredients.
Experiment too with various wines. Pastry matrimony, or the pairing of wines and desserts, also plays a big part in our dessert philosophy. Just as wines enhance savoury dishes, sweet wines complement desserts. Most of our recipes include wine suggestions. Use these as guides, and try your own pairings to determine what you like best-and to discover new and exciting possibilities.
As you read through this book, we hope that you will be inspired to recreate these recipes and to fully experience and appreciate their many pleasures. We hope too that you'll begin to experiment with your own dishes, to evoke your own emotions and to create your own memories-all it takes is a little imagination. It has been said that to be good, one must seek change. To be great, one must change often.