Creative cooks rejoice! Halloween is here again and we can get as crazy as we want with it. When I was a young cook (I’m 30 now so I get to say that) I was given a task on my day off by my new boss in Town. The saved text reads:
“Make a Halloween dessert for twenty kids. Make it look creepy but tasteful. It’s got to have all the elements of fine dining I taught you so far but geared towards kids. 5 to 12 year olds.”
Cocky as ever, I replied:
“You’ll have it by morning.”
Difficult as ever, he rebutted:
“You have until 8pm…lol”
An hour of brainstorming gave me the golden idea. In theory, I could deconstruct a slice of the restaurant’s new black forest cake, give it a few gory accents with some sauces and even achieve some height with some toppings. I could also dot the plate with some edible fake blood and create something eye-popping. Within another hour or two of experimenting, I had fully prepared my first:
Servings - 3
3 slice black forest cake, deconstructed
Green and red food colouring
2 cups plain, cherry or vanilla yogurt
2 cups whipping cream
2 whole vanilla beans, scraped
¼ cup and two tablespoons sugar
1 cup cherries, pitted
Directions – In small saucepan on medium heat, render cherries with ¼ cup sugar to form a coulis. Add 3 – 4 drops of red food colouring on final stir. Strain into squeezable container/sauce bottle. Chill a medium steel bowl and whisk/beaters. Add 2 tbsp sugar, cream and vanilla scrapings (being sure to save the husk) into chilled bowl. Whisk cream for roughly five minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add 3 – 4 drops of green food colouring and vanilla scrapings. Fold until smooth and refrigerate.
Mix yogurt with 4 – 5 drops of red food colouring and smear bottom of dessert plate in a circle. Deconstruct (separate into different parts) a slice of black forest cake so that the first cake layer is atop the yogurt circle and cherry pie filling is on top of cake. Dollop on a pile of green whipped cream next and top that with remaining cake layer in crumbs. Drizzle on your cooled cherry coulis and create a “dripping blood” effect around the plate rim to decorate.
I waited until exactly 7:59 PM to send the recipe and picture to Boss’s flip phone but he seemed reassuringly pleased with the concept.
The final text read: “Well done, see you tomorrow.”
That weekend we rolled out an equally creative Halloween themed main course in a dining hall flooded by dry ice fog. The looks of awe on the guest’s faces when the server announced and brought out the Zombie Guts dessert had us all grinning like goblins. I made sure to draw two white chocolate truffles to look like eyeballs and dip pretzel sticks into chocolate to make twigs and spiders as well, just to add some corny realism. Some kids even started a small chant of “ZOMBIE GUTS FOR DESSERT!” when our server presented another dessert option for those too wary.
Boss was pleased about the entire night and praised his staff as he relayed some compliments from our guests. For a while, I had a chunk of his respect for showing off what I had learned and didn’t have to stay behind to wash dishes while the rest of the staff had wine. Trust me, for a green cook working under Boss, that’s a compliment.