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“Trust your eyes, your taste and your instinct,” declared Lesley Taylor, owner and head chef of Newcastle’s loveliest French restaurant, Le Petit Deux, when beginning her very popular French Dessert class. To that, she could have added a good set of scales and the knowledge which comes from a culinary tradition which has been tested and interpreted across the world for generations.

The ‘menu’, exclusively composed of desserts, featured a Lavender and Honey Creme Brulee, a Rosemary Panna Cotta and breaking with the garden herbs theme, a deconstructed ‘Meringue de Angel’, a colorful composition of ground hazelnut and macadamia praline, soft and dry meringue, fresh berries all topped with a tart lemon curd ice cream.

Despite some initial confusion between the ingredients and steps for the Creme Brulee and the Pana Cotta, which initially followed a similar process of breaking eggs, whisking cream, infusing herbs and bringing to the boil, the various recipes eventually all started to come together beautifully moving almost seamlessly from a series of prepared but separate elements to 3 distinctive and surprising desserts.

The addition of the rosemary to the Panna Cotta gave this usually sweet dessert a slightly unpredictable, almost savory quality. The lavender and honey combination in the Creme Brulee moved this dessert away from the usual vanilla flavor and brought the flavors of Provence to life instead. Finally, the ‘Meringue de Angel’ was as delicious as it looked vibrant and beautiful on the plate while giving all the students a real masterchef ‘plating’ moment!

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Lesley Taylor, Owner and Head Chef of Newcastle French restaurant, Le Petit Deux. FRENCH_DESSERTS_12 FRENCH_DESSERTS_10FRENCH_DESSERTS_05

Students infusing fresh rosemary into the Panna Cotta mixture. FRENCH_DESSERTS_02 FRENCH_DESSERTS_07 Rosemary Panna Cotta over a macadamia and honey crust. FRENCH_DESSERTS_08 FRENCH_DESSERTS_11 FRENCH_DESSERTS_04 Patiently waiting for the Creme Brulee mixture to split. FRENCH_DESSERTS_09FRENCH_DESSERTS_01

Lesley demonstrates how to plate up the deconstructed ‘Meringue de Angel’FRENCH_DESSERTS_13

Playing with Isomalt, a sugar product which allows to create all sorts of decorative elements. FRENCH_DESSERTS_14 The ‘Meringue de Angel’ plated by Lesley (above) and by a student (below).FRENCH_DESSERTS_06

RECIPE FOR LAVENDER CREME BRULEE
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 250ml cream
  • 100ml honey
  • Lavender leaves
METHOD
1. Bring cream, lavender and honey to the boil.
2. Whisk egg yolks and add to boiling cream.
3. Place over a double boiler and cook until mixture looks split.
4. Strain out lavender leaves and blend until smooth.
5. Pour into moulds and refrigerate until cold and set.
6. Just before serving brulee, sprinkle with sugar and burn top with blow torch or brulee gun.
7. Garnish with crystallised lavender flowers.
8. Serve with double cream.
Check the Essential Ingredient Events page to register for your next cooking class.
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