There's nothing sadder than walking into frozen dessert day and discovering the ice cream machine is broken. However, our dismay quickly turned to delight when a chef strolled into the classroom with a canister of liquid nitrogen proclaiming a substitute lesson.
We were like kids in a candy shop—er, an ice cream parlor.
The chef poured creme anglaise into the KitchenAid stand mixer and doused it with the liquid nitrogen. Smoke billowed from the machine like a witches brew, and the class was in awe. Within minutes, we were on our way to something scoop-able.
A lesson that could have been plain wasn't so vanilla after all.
Besides ice cream (and grapefruit sorbet, which was done in the same manner), we made two dishes with meringue: a frozen fruit souffle and meringue chantilly. The souffle used Italian meringue—where hot sugar syrup is drizzled into whipped egg whites—combined with whipped cream and raspberry puree. The meringue chantilly involved swiss meringue, or egg whites and sugar initially incorporated over a bain-marie and then whipped off the heat until it's finished.
The latter recipe involves piping, a technique I have come to despise. I know some people find joy in decorating cakes or making pommes duchesse. Not me. "It looks like doodoo," chef joked in Level 1, the first time I used a pastry bag to pipe out potatoes. I'll be the first to admit my skills could use some work.
Since we had some extra time, chef showed the class how to prepare pate a choux. It's the only pastry dough that's cooked twice, and it's commonly used for eclairs. We made profiteroles, which involved—you guessed it—piping. However, I can handle this technique; all you have to do is keep the pastry bag in one spot.
Right now, creating perfect rosettes seems like a pipe dream.