forest mignardises

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forest mignardisesThis is as close to naturalism as we get. For me, such cuteness is more fitting in mignardise and pastry than in other parts of the meal. “Twigs,” “moss,” “leaves”—Brett’s black walnut box is stately and elegant enough to hold a dish that has more than its share of quotation marks.

  • Yield: 8 to 10 Servings


  • 4 grams | 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 16 grams | 1 tablespoon water, at room temperature
  • 685 grams | scant 3 ½ cups sugar
  • 370 grams | 1 cup liquid glucose
  • 200 grams | ¾ cup cold water
  • 20 grams | 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 20 grams | 1 ½ tablespoons baking soda
  • 600 grams | 3 cups raw honey
  • 200 grams | ¾ cup water
  • 10 grams | 2 ¼ teaspoons powdered agar
  • 450 grams | 2 ¼ cups powdered isomalt
  • 200 grams | 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams | ½ cup sugar
  • 10 grams | 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 100 grams | 2 cups egg whites
  • 400 grams | 1 ¾ cups brown butter, melted
  • 10 grams | 5 teaspoons instant coffee powder
How to Make It
  1. FOR THE HONEYCOMB: Stir together the gelatin and room-temperature water in a small metal bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes to bloom fully. Reserve. Spray a metal pan with a thin coating of nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and coat the paper with cooking spray. Combine the sugar, glucose, and cold water in a wide saucepan over low heat and heat slowly, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to melt the sugars evenly. Once the sugars have completely dissolved, stop stirring to avoid recrystallization. Increase the heat to high and cook until the mixture reaches 284°F (140°C). Add the honey and continue cooking, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 302°F (150°C). Immediately add the baking soda and the gelatin mixture and stir briskly with the wooden spoon for 10 seconds. Remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan. As air pockets develop, do not disturb them, as the sugar structure is very delicate at this stage. Let cool for 12 hours. Using a paring knife, cut into pieces about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) square. Store the honeycomb in an airtight container with silica gel packets at room temperature.
  2. FOR THE HONEY GEL: Combine the honey and water in a saucepan, add the agar, and place over high heat. Cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 15 seconds, then pour into a small shallow metal pan. Refrigerate the pan for about 2 hours, until the gel has set. Cut the gel into pieces small enough to fit in a blender, transfer them to the blender, and mix on high speed for 2 minutes, until smooth and shiny. Strain through a chinois into a bowl, then cover and refrigerate for 12 hours to allow the air pockets to escape. Transfer the mixture to a squeeze bottle and return to the refrigerator.
  3. FOR THE COFFEE TWIGS: Preheat a convection oven to 325°F (165°C). Combine the isomalt, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. With the processor running, slowly add the egg whites. Follow with the brown butter and continue to mix for about 2 minutes, until a batter forms. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and mix for 30 seconds longer. Transfer about 150 grams (⅔ cup) of the batter to a bowl, add the coffee powder, and stir to dissolve, then reserve to the side. Spread the remaining batter in a thin layer (about 1/16 inch/2 millimeters) on a full-size silicone baking mat. Scatter the coffee-flavored batter in small amounts evenly over the batter layer, then spread it to the same thickness, creating a streaked pattern. Bake the tuile for 5 minutes, just until the surface is no longer tacky. Using a knife and a straight edge, cut the tuile lengthwise into strips 2 ¼ inches (6 centimeters) wide. Return the tuile to the oven and continue to bake for about 2 minutes, until it turns light amber. Working quickly while the tuile is hot, tear the strips from the mat in 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) sections and place on a work surface. Immediately roll each strip into cigarette-shaped pieces. If the tuile becomes too brittle, return it to the oven to soften again. Once all of the twigs have been formed, store in an airtight container with silica gel packets at room temperature.
  4. FOR THE DIRTY CARAMEL: Spray a 7 by 13-inch (20 by 33-centimeter) metal pan with nonstick cooking spray, coating the bottom and sides. Line the bottom of the tray with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray. Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat over low heat to 140°F (60°C). Add the eucalyptus leaves, remove the saucepan from the heat, and steep in a warm place for 30 minutes. Strain the cream into a clean saucepan and add the sugar, corn syrup, and glucose. Place over high heat and, stirring with a wooden spoon, heat to 220°F (104°C). Add the butter and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240°F (116°C). Remove from the heat, pour into the prepared pan, and let rest for 24 hours at room temperature to crystallize properly. Using a knife, cut the caramel sheet into 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) squares. In a bowl, combine the ground eucalyptus and cocoa nibs. Toss the squares, a few at a time, in the crumb mixture, then reform the sides of each caramel to maintain a perfect square. Reserve the squares in an airtight container in an area with an ambient temperature of 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C).
  5. FOR THE MAPLE LEAF: Combine the cream, maple syrup, and corn syrup in a small rondeau and whisk to combine. Place over low heat and, gently stirring, heat slowly until the mixture reaches 238°F (114°C). (Do not heat higher than 240°F/116°C or the fudge will burn.) Immediately transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to start cooling the fudge. When the temperature of the fudge reaches 108°F (42°C), turn it out onto a sheet of parchment paper and top with a second parchment sheet. Roll the fudge through a dough sheeter set at about ⅓ inch (1 centimeter). Using a leaf-shaped metal mold, cut out leaf shapes from the fudge, then press each shape into a silicone leaf impression mold. Arrange the cutouts on thin wooden dowels to form the shapes of dried leaves and place on a dehydrator tray. Dehydrate at 115°F (46°C) for 6 hours, until dry and crispy.
  6. FOR THE MAPLE GEL: Put the maple syrup and gellan base in a blender and mix on high for about 2 minutes, until a uniform puree forms, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender. Pour through a chinois into a container, cover, and refrigerate for 12 hours to allow the air pockets to escape. Transfer to a squeeze bottle.

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