Play with your food: Puff Pastry and Burnt Honey Ice Cream

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)

We have a saying in class, a motto adopted from Chef Tom: “Make it work!” Those have become the three most important words in my life (aside from “more gummy bears”). Things will go wrong in the kitchen, it’s inevitable, and you just don’t have time to fuss over it. There’s nothing to do but find a way to make it work.

I spent all morning today making puff pastry to bake off some mini summer fruit jalousie. The pâton was as good as I could ask for, I was ahead of schedule, and they came together beautifully. Then I put them in the oven…

One of the trickiest things about baking that I bring up often is adapting to your environment and today I learned that my oven and puff pastry do not get along at all. The key to great puff is the rapid evaporation of moisture to steam to push each individual layer up and apart, which is classified as mechanical leavening. At the recommended temperature of 375F my oven just doesn’t seem able to do that. When I went to rotate the trays a bunch of half risen jalousie braising in melted butter greeted me. It was ugly and I was not happy at all.

The ice cream came out perfectly to no one’s surprise.

There are multiple periods of inactive steps when making puff pastry that you can use to prepare other things you will need. I listed the recipes in the order I have them in my notebook, by no means should you follow this order. Read them over and plan your day as you’d like knowing you’ll have lots of free time as the dough rests, compotes cool, and ice cream freezes.

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer with paddle
  • Ice cream maker


It’s summer and at this point I can’t stress any more how much I love frozen things, so buckle up because the temperature here in New York isn’t dipping anytime soon and my ice cream machine has many more jobs ahead. This recipe uses the best honey I’ve ever had. TruBee Honey is a great apiary in Tennessee I’ve been following for a very long time. Their Summer Wildflower is the edible incarnation of laying in a field of flowers on a hot day. In other words, perfection.

  • 100g wildflower honey
  • 220g milk, room temperature
  • 260g heavy cream, room temperature
  • 135g sugar, divided 100g/35g
  • 8g vanilla paste
  • 70g egg yolk
  • pinch of salt

Bring the honey to a boil in a saucepan large enough for the remaining ingredients and let it cook for about 2 min until darkened. Add the milk, cream, and 100g of sugar – return to the heat and just bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and honey.

Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar (I added an extra drop of honey here because I don’t play no games) and temper them with the hot cream mixture. Return the custard to the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Strain into an ice bath and cool to about room temp, then chill until ready to process.


If you’ve read my cronut recipe then you should already be familiar with the process of forming and folding a pâton. This dough is much simpler than that one. Where the cronuts were leavened both mechanically and organically this classic puff is all mechanical, which explains the much larger amount of butter for the beurrage.

  • 190g cake flour
  • 190g bread flour
  • 4g salt
  • 55g beurre en pommade (mash butter until it resembles Vaseline)
  • ice cold water
  • 375g beurrage

Paddle the flours, salt, and pommade until very small pieces remain then gradually add the water to just barely bring the détrempe together, finishing it by hand with small amounts of water. Form the détrempe into a square, wrap and chill it for about 20 min while you form the beurrage.

Form the pâton with the beurrage and détrempe and give it a total of three single (letter) turns – fold it in thirds just like a letter – resting about 20 min between each one. Chill the folded pâton until you are ready to use it. It can be frozen at this point for up to 2 months.


Markets are flooded with stone fruit and berries right now and I wish I had the time to just cook all of it but I have to settle for weekends. Both of these recipes are prepared using the same method and all of the fruit is roughly diced to about 1/4”

Stone Fruit Compote:

  • 560g nectarines
  • 540g peaches
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 100g sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Strawberry Kiwi Compote:

  • 400g strawberries
  • 300g kiwi
  • 80g sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon

Place all of the ingredients for each filling into a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until softened slightly, drain and cool on plastic lined sheet pans to room temperature. Chill until ready to use.


You can’t hear it but I just sighed as I got to this line. Know your oven, that’s all I can say. Take some scraps after building the jalousie (chill them until you’re ready) and bake it off at 375 for 15-20 min. If you get a pool of butter then raise the heat between 400-425 and try moving the tray closer to the top of the oven. The great thing about puff pastry is that it is easy to read and troubleshoot.

Cut out rectangles from the dough, the amount and size are up to you, but make sure that half of them are just slightly smaller than the other half. “Dock” the smaller rectangles by poking a bunch of holes in them – these are the bottoms. Fold the larger ones in half lengthwise and make three cuts in the fold for vents – these are the tops. Egg wash the edge of the bottom layer, spoon some compote in the center, lay a top piece over it and trim just enough edge to even them out. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.


Once everything is assembled brush the tops with egg wash, being careful not to use so much that it runs over the edges (this will inhibit rising by gluing the layers shut). Bake the pastries for about 15-18 min or until golden brown on the top and bottom while remaining very light in the layers.



  • 50g powdered sugar
  • 50g lemon juice

Whisk the glaze and drizzle over the strawberry jalousie while they are warm.

Cool the pastries on the pan completely.

Since I don’t have any beautiful pastries to show you this time around you’re going to get an ugly one and a quick little lesson in how puff pastry works. Lucky you.


If you look at the far left of that pastry you’ll see how it slid off of itself. That’s because the moisture held in the butter didn’t transform into steam quickly enough and instead spent too much time as a liquid causing the layers to slip like a mini buttery landslide. If done properly, it will shoot straight up instead with layers even more defined than what you see in the middle there. That’s what I meant when I said that puff pastry communicates well as it is being prepared. One look and I immediately knew what was going on.

That’s how you make everything but what do you do when it all falls apart? You listen to Chef Tom and make it work! So here’s another motto of mine – “When in doubt, sundae.”


I am really bummed I couldn’t bring you guys some really good puff pastry. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to make (partially because I am very good at it) and I actually considered skipping this week and just scrapping the whole thing. But imagine how boring things would be if everything was perfect all of the time. Missteps breed important lessons if you let them. The most important one of all being those three little words – “make it work.”

Stay hungry.


PS – It’s midterm week so I may not have a post for you after this weekend in order to study. If that’s the case I’ll be back with something cool (get it?!) next weekend.

See also:

Play with your food: Cinnabun Roulade Cake

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)

I have a confession to make. I do not like cakes. I didn’t know this until starting pastry school mostly because I didn’t know what it meant to build a real one. It is a ton of work to build something even as simple as the cake in this post. Having been through two cake units I now have a world of respect for people who focus on this particular field.

Mostly I don’t like cakes because I am not as naturally talented at making them as I hoped to be going in. So like anything it takes a lot of work to get better. There are so many techniques to master in order to build a cake. Mixing while maintaining an egg foam and inhibiting gluten development, baking to just the right level of doneness, creating and working with a myriad of fillings and coatings, decorating (which is a whole skill set on its own), all while monitoring and adapting to your environment.

It’s a lot of work, and while I may not particularly enjoy it the knowledge and skills to be gained from mastering the production and creation of cakes crosses into every facet of pastry arts (I have come up with several ice creams and frozen desserts progressing through this unit alone).

Now I may not like cake all that much but here’s something I do love – cinnamon buns! So I combined the two to get in some seriously good practice over the weekend and bring you the Cinnabun Roulade Cake.

Special Equipment:

  • Stand mixer
  • Silicone baking mat(s)

These are all recipes done in class that I have tweaked for this particular project.


Pate a cornet is easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It’s a paste that can be spread over stencils or piped into any shape or design you can imagine. Freeze it on a silicone baking mat then pour a batter over it and bake it like normal and when you flip it over and unmold it you have a perfect design incorporated directly into the cake. It’s tattoos for cakes and totally awesome.

  • 83g butter, room temperature
  • 83g sugar
  • 75g egg white
  • 75g pastry (or cake) flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder

Cream the butter and sugar light and fluffy then gradually mix in the egg whites to completely emulsify. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa and mix until just combined. Spread or pipe the paste onto a silicone baking mat as desired and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake.



Roulade cakes are a lot of fun to make. When baked properly the cake sheet is super pliable, enough to tightly roll, and really neat to play around with and feel elasticity of the crumb. Oh, and it’s pronounced “biskwee.” Say it right or run the risk of getting beat with a wooden spoon by a Frenchman.

  • 195g cake flour
  • 8g cinnamon
  • 1/2t baking powder
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 300g egg white
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g sugar
  • 200g egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.

Prepare a French meringue by whisking the egg whites, tartar, and salt at medium high until slightly foamy then slowly adding the sugar and whisking until stiff peaks form.

Mix a scoop of meringue into the egg yolks to bring the consistencies closer to each other, then very gently fold the yolks into the meringue, leaving the mixture streaky. Gently fold the dry mixture into the meringue working as quickly and efficiently as possible. The more you have to work to incorporate the ingredients the more you will deflate the meringue. (It’s a tough process to get down that I have struggled with until only very recently.)

Spread the batter evenly over the frozen pate a cornet and bake for ~15-18 min or until the cake begins to pull from the edges of the pan and springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool the cakes in the pan for about 10 min then unmold, remove the baking mat, and cool completely on a rack.



Crème mousseline is a pastry buttercream, so yeah, it’s pretty great. This one is flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves and adds a warm aromatic flavor that boosts the cinnamon in the cake. Normally pastry cream is made by cooking a crème anglaise with pastry cream powder which is starch with some vanilla flavoring. Pastry cream powder is tricky to find so a mixture of cornstarch and flour with some vanilla extract works just as well.

  • 473g milk
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 125g sugar, split 75g and 50g
  • 50g egg
  • 40g egg yolk
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 10g all purpose flour
  • 40g cornstarch
  • pinch of cloves
  • 10g cinnamon
  • 150g butter, RT
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Bring the milk, cinnamon sticks, and 75g of sugar to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for ~20 min.

Remove the cinnamon sticks, return to heat and bring to just barely boiling. Whisk the egg and yolk, vanilla, flour, cornstarch, cloves, and cinnamon until thickened. Temper the egg mixture with the milk, whisking constantly to combine.

Cook the mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously, until very thick and resembles the consistency of pudding. Pour the cooked pastry cream onto a plastic lined sheet pan, cover and cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, paddle the pastry cream at medium high until smooth. Add butter, cinnamon, and sugar and beat until very smooth.


  • 250g powdered sugar
  • 113g butter, melted
  • 87g milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


Cut the cake sheets lengthwise to the desired width (which will determine the height of each layer). Spread a thin layer of mousseline onto each strip and roll them up tightly, for the base layer use two strips to make a good thick round. Continue forming as many layers as desired to build a tower.


Whisk the ingredients for the glaze until well combined and thick (add more sugar if too thin). Pour the glaze into a container with a spout or anything to facilitate pouring and microwave it for about 15 sec to barely warm. Pour the glaze over the cake allowing it to run down from the top.


At this point you can add any decorations you’d like or leave the cake as is. Personally I wanted to practice my buttercream flowers, so I made a batch of disgusting “buttercream” with Crisco and powdered sugar and popped them on the cake. What you do is entirely up to you and your imagination.

Cakes are hard. But do you know what else they are? Immensely popular. I have made it explicitly clear that I don’t enjoy making them yet currently have four projects in development that I have been asked to make outside of school. I suppose that’s the greatest lesson they’ve taught me so far. I may not love this particular area of pastry arts the way I do others but that doesn’t give me an excuse to check out of it. If anything it doubles my motivation to be better with each cake I make.


This is an industry that thrives on breaking the rules as much as it respects them, and cakes are all about honoring both tradition and what your customer wants. It’s a humbling experience to go from the freeform creation of something like the Linzer Cones or Cocktail Pops to working within the boundaries of building a cake as rich in tradition as a Sachertorte or designing a wedding cake for a friend. No matter the project though it’s all a means to the same end – to put a smile on someone’s face.

And let’s be real, happiness is eating an 18” tall cinnamon bun with no utensils.

Thanks for reading and stay hungry.


See also:

Play with your food: Linzer Cones

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)

A moment in the thought process of an ice cream obsessed pastry cook:

“This (insert any food) is delicious! I must freeze it.”

At this current point in my life I basically think in frozen food. There’s something about the creation process I just can’t enough of. I love the challenges inherent in transferring flavors between mediums while adding new textural and temperature dynamics to a dish.

As soon as we finished the Linzer Tart in class and I got to try it, my first reaction was (as stated above) “I must freeze this!” So in honor of National Ice Cream Day (confession – I don’t know when this was but it’s been all over my Instagram since Friday) let’s get started.

I got to do a little demo with this project since two friends donated the berries used in the sherbet and loaned me some extra hands. The best thing about being so good at this is you can just pay your friends with food. Thanks again for the berries and the help, you two!


Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer w/ paddle attachment
  • Food processor
  • Fine mesh strainer (chinois)
  • Drum strainer (tamis)
  • Ice cream maker
  • Cornet molds


~1000g or just shy of 2qts when frozen

I recently visited Jaques Torres’ chocolate factory in Brooklyn and while there had some of the very best raspberry sorbet I’ve ever had in my life. I knew from that first bite that any frozen raspberry thing I make moving forward would be held to that standard. I believe I have done it justice.

  • 560g raspberries
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 275g superfine sugar (run granulated through a food processor for ~30s)
  • 20g-25g agave nectar (to taste)
  • 200g milk
  • 60g heavy cream

Bring the berries, citrus juice, and sugar to a boil and cook until very soft.

Sherbet Berries

Puree in the food processor until very smooth. Pulse in agave and dairy to blend.
Taste and adjust sweetness as desired with more sugar and/or agave (remember sweetness diminishes during freezing).

Strain through fine mesh strainer into an ice bath to cool down.

Sherbet Straining

Once cool, process in an ice cream maker until soft serve, then freeze until ready to use.


800g or 12 cones

This is the exact recipe used in class and it took my mad science approach to assembling the cones like a champ. It’s best if the dough is not too cold since you’ll need it pretty malleable to roll.

  • 6 hard boiled egg yolks
  • 300g pastry (or cake) flour
  • 50g hazelnut flour
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 1/8t ground cloves
  • 3/4t salt
  • 280g butter, room temperature cubes
  • 50g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 15g rum

Pass the yolks through the tamis to form a very fine crumble.

Linzer Yolks

Sift the flours, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the yolks and the rum.
Add the DRY ingredients in several additions to just combine. Form the dough into a square, wrap it in plastic and chill it for at least 60 min.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray the cornets with nonstick and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough about 16”x16” and about ¼” thick. Cut approximately ½” strips. Lightly brush a strip with egg wash and wrap it (egg side in) around a cornet, brush the outside with egg wash, place the cone seam side down (where the strip ends at the top) on the pan. Roll the rest the same way.

Cone Shaping

Bake the cones for about 30 min, rolling them every 10 min to ensure even browning. Remove and cool them on the pan and the molds fully before removing.

Cone Baked 3linzer_cones_baked



I challenge you to eat less than half before assembling the cones.

  • 100g sliced almonds
  • 75g simple syrup

Crush the almonds slightly and toss them with the simple syrup. Spread them out evenly on a parchment-lined pan.


Toast the almonds at 350F until golden brown. Cool completely.



Seeing as how you navigated to this website and read all the way down here I feel I can safely assume that you know how to assemble an ice cream cone. However, let me say that I found it much easier to use a piping bag with a plain #805 Ateco tip to fill the cones. It keeps any sherbet from ending up on the sides and you know it’s all about looks. (Please refrain from licking your screen – it’s gross)

Finished Cone 1Finished Cone 2

That’s a wrap on the Linzer Cone. I hope you enjoyed reading. Now get out of here, go to a farmers’ market for some raspberries while they’re in season, and make that sherbet! Seriously, beat it. But before you go:

Stay hungry.


See also:

Play with your food: 4th of July Popsicles

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)

Summer is awesome. America is awesome. Popsicles are awesome. Everything is awesome!

For real, who doesn’t love popsicles? When offered they may tell you “oh no, I don’t like grape” (it’s awful) or “eh, I don’t like cherry” (door’s over there) but “I don’t like popsicles?” I’ve never heard it.

They’re perfect on a summer day and easy. So easy I couldn’t resist making them difficult. And what better way to do that than to feature an ingredient that doesn’t freeze? Cocktails, like popsicles, don’t leave a lot of room for ingredients – you only have a small amount of space to create a story of flavors. A well-crafted cocktail is the product of much experimentation and a deep understanding of how different flavors interact.

So you make a list. Break it down into liquor type, sweeteners, and additives. I like the visual guide of drawing a line from left to right to form a drink/pop. You don’t have to do it this way but with so many possibilities an outline helps.

Popsicle cocktail Outline

Here’s how this particular entry is going to work: there isn’t really any actual cooking involved with making most cocktails or popsicles. Each flavor will list the ingredients and a description of how those flavors come together. Each one uses a good amount of simple syrup as its base and primary sweetener. Freezing diminishes sweetness so what may taste unbearably sweet as a liquid will become much more balanced when frozen. Strong, assertive liqueurs work best since there is only a small amount in each batch.

Finally, the most important and finite ingredient for making any sort of frozen dessert is time. You simply can’t have enough of it. You have to freeze the liquid in the molds, then remove them and allow them to set in their packaging, then let them set again before serving. There are methods and equipment to do all of this much faster (industrial freezers, liquid nitrogen, etc), resulting in a much more consistent product, but those are not all that accessible for home cooking. So for my purposes and yours I’ll keep it old school and do it the hard way.

As far as credit where it’s due, a great deal of my knowledge and appreciation for mixing drinks comes from Death & Co. The bar and the book are master classes in building a drink from its ingredients to its name.

Special Equipment

  • Citrus Juicer –I use the KitchenAid attachment
  • Popsicle Molds – I like the Norpro 3oz molds
  • Time – hope you’ve got a lot of it
  • Simple Syrup – bring 1:1 sugar and water to boil (don’t stir) to dissolve sugar, cool

Margarita cocktail popsicle


This is more or less a classic margarita with an extra boost of citrus from some fresh squeezed orange juice. It was one of the easier recipes to develop since tequila is so assertive and retains so much flavor after mixing and freezing that I didn’t need to worry much over the mix being too alcoholic to freeze solid. The name is homage to Roger the Alien (from American Dad) and one of his more nefarious alter egos.

Yield – about 500mL

  • 177mL simple syrup
  • 118mL water
  • 118mL lime juice
  • 59mL fresh orange juice
  • 22mL tequila blanco
  • 1 ½ tsp agave nectar

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

Coconut Peach liqueur popsicle


The Jecht Shot is one of the first drinks my friends and I came up with years ago using what ingredients we had on hand that day. In this embarrassing case those ingredients were Peach Snapple and coconut rum, and its name comes from a video game! That’s a hella lame drink so I gave it the 2.0 treatment. White tea is less bitter when frozen so I like it more than black. Massenez is a brand of brilliantly crafted liqueurs that retain nearly their entire flavor when frozen and are so strong a tiny bit will do the job.

Yield – about 562mL

  • 296mL white tea
  • 177mL simple syrup
  • 30mL Massenez Crème de Peche (peach liqueur)
  • 60mL lemon juice
  • 15mL coconut rum

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

Gin Basil Popsicle


When a friend (the “Liz” in “Gin Lizzy”) asked me to create a gin drink she’d like I was lost for a little while because I hated gin. That is until I learned how to use it. In this case less is definitely more. Lots of herbal notes from the gin, boosted just a tiny bit by some basil syrup, and balanced out by lots of lemon and simple syrup make for a pretty interesting popsicle.

Yield – about 500mL

  • 177mL simple syrup
  • 118mL water
  • 118mL lemon juice
  • 59mL basil syrup (simple syrup cooked with fresh – washed – basil leaves)
  • 22mL gin

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

Wine Mint Blackberry Popsicle


Gypsy is the product of two years of work. Since I only make a new batch of flavors once a year for the 4th of July I try to create a popsicle using wine and it seems the third time is a charm. If it’s not an issue of imbalanced flavor the popsicle doesn’t freeze or the mixture separates. It’s always something and as of now I don’t know enough about the chemistry of wine to approach the problems the way I would a broken cake. This time it worked and I’m certainly not going to fight it.

The result is an interesting journey of flavors starting off very sweet and finishing with a dry and refreshing hint of mint. As for the name, it came from a focus group (a bunch of friends destroying a batch of pops and their cocktail inspiration). It’s from Pacific Rim, a great movie in its own right, but we picked it mostly because it sounded cool. Given the verbiage you can probably tell this is my favorite result this year. I mean check out how cool it looks! It’s even brighter and more marbled in person.

Yield – about 500mL

  • 133mL simple syrup
  • 133mL mint syrup (simple syrup boiled with mint leaves)
  • 177mL water
  • 44mL dry white wine
  • 22mL Massenez Crème de Mure (blackberry liqueur)
  • dash of vanilla extract

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

I give you the 4th of July Class of 2015 Popsicles. As I’m writing this I have twenty pops in my freezer at home to finish for a party that’s one day away and twenty more in a freezer at the ICC to hand out to my class.

I really hope you enjoyed reading this. This annual project and the excitement of everyone getting to try the results mean the world to me given the time and work that go into it. Make them for yourself and please, please play with the recipes. Make your list of components and build your own. It’s as easy (or difficult) as you make it.

Stay hungry.

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Halloween Cupcakes by Love Food and Thought

A Halloween-inspired recipe by Deniece Vella, 2013 Professional Culinary Arts Graduate

Credit: Love Food and Thought

As the former owner of a cupcake company, I love making festive cupcakes around any holiday. All you need is good food coloring and a stash of disposable piping bags and you can have a blast decorating your cupcakes.

Halloween Cupcakes

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring
  • 12 chocolate cupcakes
  • 1 cup crushed chocolate cookies
  • 12 Candy tombstones or fondant decorations
  • 12 Candy corn pumpkins, optional
  • 12 Gummy worms

1. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip until fluffy, about 1 minute.

2. Next, add the sugar and salt. Start the mixer on low speed to incorporate the sugar. Once combined, whip on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes.

3. Using your spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and whip for 1 more minute.

4. Prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip. Add 3⁄4 of the frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake and reserve remaining frosting.

5. Dip the cupcakes into the chocolate cookie crumbs.

6. Next, color the remaining frosting green with a few drops of green food coloring. Add the frosting to a pastry bag prepared with a small grass tip. Pipe grass onto the top each cupcake.

7. Add a candy tombstone or a fondant decoration, candy pumpkin, and gummy worm to each graveyard cupcake.

8. Enjoy & Happy Halloween!


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Learn more about Professional Culinary Arts

What Happens When Science and Food Get Married?

You see things outside the culinary box. Chef Herve Malivert, Director of Food Technology at the International Culinary Center, took students and alums through a tour of simple modern gastronomy even the home cook can conquer. That is, if you can get your hands on some liquid nitrogen.

1. Faux Noodles 

As I watched Chef Herve transform oil and water into a “noodle,” all I could do was scratch my head. How could he even get oil and water to emulsify when the two are intrinsically polar opposites? This was the first magic trick Chef Herve pulled out of his hat during his food technology demonstration, and it involved the help of a chemical called methyl cellulose. Adding less than 1 percent of methyl cellulose will allow the oil and water to emulsify into a mayo-like consistency. He used this concoction to add another dimension to consommé, a clear soup. Using a squeeze bottle, he piped tiny strips of the emulsion into the soup, which solidified when it came in contact with the hot liquid. The noodle resembled the texture of soft Udon.

2. Coca Cola Caviar?

Transforming any liquid into a tiny, pearl of jelly is an interesting way to add a pop–literally!–of flavor to a dish. Chef Herve took the popular soda, Coca Cola, added 1 percent agar, a gelling agent, to it and dripped the soda into a water bath containing 5 to 8 percent lactate, which solidified the Coke into little balls of caviar. Only bathe the caviar in this solution for a minute–the longer it’s submerge, the denser the gel will become.

3. Instant Ice Cream

Want to really impress your friends? Invest in some liquid nitrogen, whip up a creme anglaise, and shower your custard with liquid nitrogen to make a quick batch of ice cream. Pour the creme anglaise–a mixture of eggs, sugar, and cream–into a stand mixer. While on a low speed, add the liquid nitrogen. You’ll use about a 50:50 ratio of creme anglaise to liquid nitrogen, but you can eyeball the process. Once the ice cream comes to the right consistency, stop adding nitrogen. Top with caviar!

Jacques Pepin’s Secrets to Eggs

In culinary school, you spend an entire day just on eggs. That’s how important they are. Before you try to impress a chef about your knowledge of sous-vide cooking, you have to master the basics. And to help the students at the International Culinary Center nail them down, the school invited the master himself, Jacques Pepin, to demo every possible egg preparation. He made them look easy. Really easy. But with years of practice, that’s what happens. We flagged five of his most memorable tips.

1. Crack your eggs on a flat surface. The simplest part of an egg dish is cracking the shell, but I bet you’re probably guilty of cracking it on the edge of a counter or bowl, right? Well, don’t. You’re more likely to end up with pieces of the shell inside your dish.

2. Poaching eggs? Fresher eggs are better. The older the eggs, the more the whites will tend to spread in the water. A dash of vinegar will help corral the web-like whites, but stick to fresh eggs for an easier attempt.

3. Butter is the key to a smooth omelet. French omelets should be perfectly smooth and beautifully yellow, and there are three keys to nailing this down: a) Practice, duh; b) A very hot, non-stick pan; c) don’t drown the pan in unsalted butter or else your omelet will be wrinkly (1 tablespoon butter is enough for a 6 to 8-inch pan).

4. Whisk your scrambled eggs.
When making scrambled eggs, it’s best to have the smallest possible curd during cooking. To achieve this, use a whisk and constantly whisk during cooking. Reserve a 1/4 cup of your egg mixture, and when the rest of the eggs are starting to set in the pan, pull off the heat and add the raw eggs. That way, you’ll guarantee that you won’t end up with rubbery, overcooked eggs.

5. Think outside of the pan. One of the most delicious (and easiest) ways to prepare eggs is to use a ramekin: Butter the ramekin, season it, and line it with whatever ingredients you have a hankering for (think: herbs, ham, tomatoes). Then, crack an egg on top and place the ramekin in a large saucepan filled a quarter way with water. Cover and let boil until the whites are set, but the yolk is still runny, about 4 minutes.


How the Spanish do Pizza

One line kept running through my head today when I visited my alma mater: I should’ve taken the Classic Spanish Arts Program. Being immersed in their small class taught me that Spanish food is really centered around simple, but top-grade ingredients. So spending my afternoon eating Iberico jamon and imported Spanish olive oil was a nice way to spend a snowy Monday afternoon.

Not to gip the Classic Culinary Arts Program, which taught me how to hold a knife, make a solid stock (and sauce), and how to buzz through a task list quickly and efficiently, but the Spanish culinary students had a different vibe about them. A lot of them brought their own culture to the table, and with it, a sense of their own flavor. And visiting during “coca dough” day–basically Spain’s version of pizza dough–showed what a few talented kids can do with a blank canvas, like pizza dough.

Coca dough is the perfect vessel for sweet or savory toppings, and these students used it for both. The dough was denser than focaccia, but had an addictive salty kick with the flavor of Spanish olive oil singing through the dough. They made it with fresh yeast and let it rise for 2-3 hours. When they retrieved the dough, it looked like a scene from The Blob. Spilling over the bowl, they used their fists to punch down the dough and roll it into rectangular flatbreads.

The first experiment was savory–topping with sauteed bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms. My first bite was symphonic: Warm dough cushioning olive-oil soaked vegetables. Only four components to this pizza, but it tasted like a Michelin chef whipped it up.

The rest of the afternoon was a combination of pulling out loads of pizza topped with anisette and caramelized sugar and pine nuts with dried fruits.

Coca topped with sugar and torched to look like glass
After doing a little digging about this quick-rise dough, I found out that Spaniards usually don’t make it at home. They’ll visit their local bakery and buy it. And because we don’t have the luxury of a Spanish bakery on every corner, here’s a basic coca recipe for you to try at home, courtesy of The International Culinary Center.

Basic Coca Dough

What you’ll need:
510 g all-purpose flour
43 g baker’s yeast in 45 ml lukewarm water
207 ml lukewarm water
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
35 g salt

How to make it:

1. Knead the yeast, flour, salt, water, and olive oil by hand or mixer. Mix until the finished dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a bowl, brush with olive oil, and set it in a warm place to rise for 2 to 3 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 450F. Once the dough has risen, remove from resting spot, and punch down the dough to slightly deflate it. Divide the dough into two equal parts and pat the dough into a 3×9-inch rectangle. Place on an oiled baking sheet. Brush the top with oil and pinch the sides into a rolled crust. Top with sautéed vegetables and sausage.

3. Bake coca until crust browns, about 10 minutes.