Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending The 4th Annual Great Gathering of Chefs which was an official launch of photographer Alan “Battman” Batt’s new recipe and food photography book. It’s called “The Colors of Dessert” and aptly so. Battman, as he is known, challenged the chefs to make desserts based on six colors (red, yellow, purple, green, orange and brown). The beautiful photographs will keep you mesmerized while your mouth waters so much you will need to keep a napkin handy. This is bound to be a coffee table favorite.
The event featured 140 participating chefs and an exclusive guided coffee-tasting tour with Scott McMartin, Starbucks' Director of Coffee and Tea Education and Green Coffee Sustainability. Mr. McMartin also contributed to the debuting cookbook pairing each dessert with the appropriate coffee. Coffee and dessert anyone? I would say that being Coffee Editor here at BellaOnline does have its perks.
at the 4th Annual Great Gathering of Chefs
STARBUCKS GUIDED COFFEE TOUR
During this guided coffee tour, we compared several completely different coffees and really tasted the difference in flavors. We learned that some coffees are full bodied with chocolate notes and others can be acidic or citrusy. It is this difference that can make coffee and dessert combinations a hit or miss.
According to Mr. McMartin, coffee has several hundred compounds which make up its flavor and taste. That is a lot of variation to consider and he has taken the work out of our pretty little heads by including expert coffee pairings for each recipe in “The Colors of Dessert”.
We tried Caffé Verona, a blend which was a more full-bodied coffee with caramel and burnt sugar notes and low acidity This coffee was paired with a delicious Chocolate Caramel Tart and they melded scrumptiously together.
I also enjoyed the Blackberry Streusel cake paired with Starbucks Kenya. This coffee had a distinct citrusy flavor. The website says, “Medium-bodied Kenya has layers of flavor, from black currant or blackberry to sweet, tropical fruit. The coffee is prized for its bright and refreshing quality.” Kenya was just perfect with the Blackberry Streusel Cake.
According to Mr. McMartin, you can go for an “echo” or a contrast. But when going for a contrast, you need to be knowledgeable because an unnatural pairing could make your great finish to a great meal a bust. It really brought home the importance of giving attention to what you are pairing your coffees with just as you would take great care in the type of wine you serve with your main course.
The exquisite photographs in “The Colors of Dessert” may leave you feeling much too intimidated to try the recipes, and yes, not all of these desserts are your Mom’s basic Sunday classic. However, when the recipe is broken down into easy-to-follow steps by these talented Chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, they certainly have the potential to become a regular for your Thanksgiving or Sunday dinner table as well as any other special occasion. Before you plunge into it though, let me suggest you read the recipe through first in case Kuzu, Macha Powder or even an ice cream maker are not part of your normal kitchen repertoire. Oddly enough, if you have Sugar Pops cereal on hand, you may be in luck—this book is full of surprises.
You may not be able to pull off the presentation of the beautiful photographs but no one will mind when you do succeed at pulling off the scrumptious flavor paired with the perfect coffee. The Blackberry Streusel Cake by Executive Pastry Chef Nancy Olson from Gramercy Tavern was my favorite (Page 138). And do stop by your local Starbucks and pick up the recommended coffee on every recipe page. I guarantee your dinner guests will be impressed, especially when you explain the nuances of the pairing. Bon appetit!
BUY THE COOKBOOK-CONTRIBUTE TO A GOOD CAUSE
The cookbook is available at Battman's website, www.battmanstudios.com and Amazon.com for $39.95, but if you intend to display it on your coffee table, you had better buy two because it’s bound to become a staple in the kitchen as well and may not look so nice on the coffee table with flour, berry and chocolate stains.
Don’t worry, you will be donating to a good cause as well. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Children’s Storefront, a tuition-free school in Harlem, New York.
Starbucks Salted Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate
While I am all about the coffee, at the event I got an introduction to a new line of hot chocolates that Starbucks has already begun introducing. It was the Salted Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate. Chocolate is my other love (please don’t tell coffee I am cheating). I urge you to give it a try. It was delicious!