Maldon Salt. Chevre. Bacon. Basil. Arugula. Stilton Blue Cheese. Ever considered making desserts with any of these ingredients? P*ONG owner and pastry chef, Iron Chef America guest, and cookbook author Pichet Ong headed a class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, encouraging fresh reinterpretations of after-dinner treats with these ingredients, and springing the class into action the moment we arrived. Pichet ran from station to station while we tackled culinary feats we never thought of learning: cooking down a sugar mixture to render caramel flavored with bacon chunks and fat, smashing a rolling pin on lard filled and bacon-flavored pie dough instead of rolling it flat, churning barely-sweetened basil and arugula ice cream, and spooning said ice cream with a blue cheese souffle into our patient mouths.
If you ever get a chance to take a class with him, do it—preferably if you are comfortable in the kitchen and know how to follow recipes, as he moves quickly. I felt like I became an actual chef for those four hours in the kitchen with ten curious others: Pichet thoughtfully tasted every step of our creations and valued our opinions about what we liked and what we'd rather not have. I even was "offered" a job icing cupcakes at his bakery—after years with an obsession with the offset spatula, I've finally made it.
Take a peek at these savory sweets and get inspired, after the jump.
The most foreign dessert concept to me was the fresh yet creamy taste of the basil and arugula ice cream. I wasn't a huge fan of the Stilton souffle until I combined the flavor of the overly strong blue cheese with the ice cream. It's pretty amazing how the perfect combination of ingredients will turn a yuck into a yum.
Student Creations in Pichet Ong's Dessert Class at ICE
1. Carrot cupcakes filled with lime cream cheese, and topped with salted caramel icing 2. Bacon and lard hand pie filled with sauteed apples, with bacon caramel 3. Stilton (blue cheese) souffle with walnut, basil, and arugula ice cream 4. Chevre cheesecake with walnut cookie crumbles and topped with syrupy huckleberries