Mousse Dessert From Food Stylist Alice Hart

Desserts are often made to be eye-catching, and the dessert recipe we’re featuring today certainly is exactly that. In the final post in our three-part interview series with food stylist, Alice Hart, we get some pro tips for our readers on how to style the food you make at home – for the camera.

Plus, we’ll provide you with a tropical coconut mousse dessert recipe. This is the the very same dessert course served at the 68th Emmy Awards Governor’s Ball, as photographed here by Matt Sayles and styled by Alice Hart.

 

dessert recipe
Photograph: Matt Sayles. Food stylist: Alice Hart.

MasterCook: The users of MasterCook [our recipe app and software] have the ability to add their own photos to recipes and many cooks enjoy doing that. Can you give our readers a tip on how to style a food item at home so they can take better pictures?

Alice Hart: A tip would be to put the food in a well-lit area and compose your shot through the camera. Set your camera up first.

Do not necessarily put utensils with the food. Keep the subject simple. Your eye cannot instinctively focus if there are too many elements. It’s too busy, too messy, and your eye doesn’t know where to land. It’s all in the staging. So keep the image simple, plain, and use the plate as a picture frame.

Because if you put the fork in the front, the camera is going to make it five times bigger because it’s in the foreground. So if you’re going to use a utensil, put in in the back as an accent piece.

And if you have a glass or a napkin or something, keep it close to the plate. Don’t put too much space in between. Keep your image simple, and don’t get too far away. Wipe the plate and keep it nice and clean.

 

food stylist
Photograph: Matt Sayles. Food stylist: Alice Hart.

Note: as a reminder to users of MasterCook and Le Cordon Bleu® Recipes From MasterCook, you can add most graphical file formats to recipes, including bmp, .jpg, .png, .psd, and .pict. The ideal size is 500 pixels on the longest side. For detailed instructions, simply click on “Help Contents” under the “Help” menu and search for “photo” in the Help pop-up window.

The dessert recipe below was inspired by the Emmys and created by Greg Wiele, Culinary Director and Corporate Executive Chef of Patina Restaurant Group, which provided catering for the ball. To read our previous interviews with Alice, see part one here and part two here. For more information on Alice Hart, please visit her website, Food for Film.

Ocoa Chocolate Crémeux

with tropical coconut mousse, torched meringue, and exotic fruit

Serves 6

For the tropical fruit center:

1 26-oz jar coconut puree

1 26-oz jar mango puree

1 26-oz jar passion fruit puree

2 cups sugar

12 large eggs

32 egg yolks

2 tablespoons gelatin

2/3 cup cold water

2 and ½ cups butter, room temperature

Equipment: sphere mold (.7 inches in diameter)

Directions:

  1. Mix the fruit purees in a sauce pan with the sugar and bring to a boil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and the egg yolks.
  3. Temper the eggs by slowly adding one cup of the hot puree to the egg bowl, whisking as you go.
  4. Once fully incorporated, add egg mixture to the puree and cook until it reaches 185 ° F.
  5. Remove sauce pan from heat.
  6. In a small cup or bowl, mix the gelatin with cold water until gelatin is fully incorporated.
  7. Add gelatin/water mixture to the puree and set aside until the temperature reaches 145 ° F.
  8. Mix butter into the puree and place mixture into the sphere molds.
  9. Freeze overnight, remove the molds, and place the frozen fruit bowls back into the freezer until ready to assemble dessert.

For the coconut mousse:

1 26-oz jar coconut puree

1/3 cup sugar

1 and 1/3 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut

20 egg yolks

4 tablespoons gelatin

2/3 cup cold water

600 grams (1 pound 2 ounces) white chocolate zephyr

2 and ½ cups heavy cream

2 ounces Malibu liquor

Equipment: sphere mold (2.5 inches in diameter)

Directions:

  1. Mix the coconut puree, sugar, and shredded coconut in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
  3. Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding one cup of the hot puree to the egg bowl, whisking as you go.
  4. Once fully incorporated, adds to the coconut puree and cook until it reaches 185°F.
  5. Remove sauce pan from heat.
  6. In a large bowl, mix the gelatin with cold water until gelatin is fully incorporated.
  7. Pour puree into the bowl with the gelatin/water mixture and set aside until the temperature reaches 90 ° F.
  8. While the puree cools, make whipped cream by whipping the heavy whipping cream with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
  9. Gently fold in the whipped cream, white chocolate, and Malibu to the puree.
  10. Put mousse into a piping bag and fill molds halfway, placing the Tropical Exotic Fruit Center on top, and then filling the remainder of the mold with the coconut mousse.
  11. Freeze overnight; until ready to assemble the dessert.

For the Ocoa Chocolate Cream:

2 and 1/3 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

8 egg yolks

200 grams (7 oz) dark chocolate (Ocoa 70 % )

200 grams (7 oz) milk chocolate (Alungra 38%)

Directions:

  1. Mix the heavy cream with the sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
  3. Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding one cup of the hot cream to the egg bowl, whisking as you go.
  4. Once fully incorporated, add egg mixture into the sauce pot with the cream and cook until it reaches 185 ° F.
  5. Remove sauce pan from heat.
  6. In a large bowl, add the dark chocolate and the milk chocolate.
  7. Pour hot cream into the bowl to melt the chocolate and mix; set aside at room temperature until ready to assemble dessert.

For Feuilletine Hazelnut Crisp:

2 and 2/3 cups praline paste

200 grams (5 oz) Alunga™ milk chocolate -38%

3 cups pailletes feuilletine (crunchy crêpe flakes)

Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate by microwaving it for 30 seconds and then mixing it. Repeat until fully melted; do not overheat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted chocolate with the praline paste and the feulletine.
  3. Spread mixture in a smooth, thin layer in a sheet pan; set aside in fridge until ready to assemble dessert.

For the “BTO” (Better Than Oreos) Chocolate Cookie:

2 and 1/2 cups butter

2 and 1/3 cups brown sugar

6 cups all-purpose flour

1 and 1/3 cup black cocoa powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 and 1/3 cup chocolate chips

5 egg whites

6 tablespoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and the sugar with a paddle attachment until very fluffy.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Slowly mix dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture until just incorporated.
  4. Gently fold in the chocolate chips, egg whites, and vanilla extract.
  5. Roll out the mixture on a cookie sheet between two pieces of parchment paper.
  6. Use a 3” biscuit cutter to cut cookies, removing the excess dough.
  7. Bake at 350 ° F for 8 minutes; let cool.

And finally….

To Serve:

  1. Place the BTO cookie in the center of a 9” plate. Pour the chocolate creamy on top of the cookie and sprinkle the hazelnut crisp over plate.
  2. Remove the coconut mousse from the mold and dust with shredded coconut. Place the coconut mousse sphere on top of the creamy. Garnish with chocolate.

 

* For those who are using Le Cordon Bleu® Recipes from MasterCook, these recipes have been automatically added to your online recipe collection and are ready to sync with your desktop version of MasterCook, where it will be added to Le Cordon Bleu® Blog Cookbook.

First Course: Interview with Food Stylist Alice Hart

We’re happy to present this first in our three-part interview with food stylist, Alice Hart. Hart offers us her insight as the food stylist at 68th Emmy Awards Governor’s Ball and as a former food styling judge on the Food Network Challenge.

If you’ve ever seen a food advertisement and rushed out to satisfy your cravings, chances are you’re familiar with the work of food stylist Alice Hart. She’s the woman-behind-the-scenes who fashions food for the camera, whether it’s still shots for magazines, cookbooks, and packaging, or video for commercials.

Known as one of the top experts in her field, Alice Hart is the go-to food stylist for everyone from celebrity chefs such as Joel Robuchon to food companies like Kraft and Nestle. In 2013, she was awarded the Julia Child Legacy Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) for her work as a food stylist.

food stylist interview

Hart attended Le Cordon Bleu International in Paris, where she received Le Grande Diplôme. She credits her work there with helping launch her into her chosen career.

MasterCook had the pleasure of talking with Hart over an extended lunch about her work as a food stylist. We will be sharing with our readers portions of the interview in a three-part blog post series, along with recipes for a three course meal from the 68th Emmy Awards Governor’s Ball held in September, an event for which Hart was the food stylist.

The pictures interspersed throughout the interview showcase Hart’s artistry as captured by photographer Matt Sayles.

MasterCook: Can you explain the difference between making a dish look appetizing for dinner versus making a dish look appetizing for the camera?

Alice Hart: To make food appetizing for dinner you want it to look clean, wholesome. You want it to look hot, cold, crispy—so that it looks yummy in real life.

Working for the camera, it’s hardest to do still photography because things melt, things blend into each other, and dimensions change. Food is three-dimensional. You see it in real life and it has height, it has width, and length. When it goes into a camera lens, whether it’s still or whether it’s moving, the dimensions get squashed. I have to build the food up very simply to make it look three-dimensional even though it’s two-dimensional.

food stylist event
Photo: Matt Sayles. Food stylist: Alice Hart

I do not paint, I do not spray, I do not use chemicals. I do not use embalming fluid. I was on the Food Network Challenge for a couple of years as one of their judges and, as a judge, I had a food stylist who used embalming fluid and ammonia.

And I nailed him because we don’t do this. There’s something called “truth in advertising.” And the more chemicals you put on the food, the less real it is. It needs to be clean looking, healthy, nature-made food. Not fake, not phony.


The recipes offered below were inspired by the Emmys and created by Greg Wiele, Culinary Director and Corporate Executive Chef for Patina Restaurant Group, which provided catering for the ball. For more information on Alice Hart, please visit her website, Food for Film.

 Heirloom Beet Salad

Served with pistachio-goat cheese “bonbons,” blood oranges, preserved lemon, roasted eggplant puree, baby fennel confit, Lolla Rossa, black olive “soil,” and tangelo vinaigrette

Serves 6
Ingredients:
6 red baby beets, roasted and halved (see recipe below)
6 Chioggia baby beets (commonly referred to as candy cane or candy stripe beets), roasted and halved
6 gold baby beets, roasted and halved
2/3 cup (6 ounces) eggplant puree, roasted (see recipe below)
6 ounces tangelo emulsion (see recipe below)
3 ounces preserved lemon, julienned (see recipe below)
18 pistachio-crusted goat cheese “bonbons” (see recipe below)
6 baby fennel bulbs, confit and quartered (see recipe below)
3 ounces Kalamata olive “soil” (see recipe below)
3 Lolla Rossa baby lettuce heads
30 blood orange segments
24 slices raw Chioggia baby beets
6 fennel fronds
4 ounces tangelo vinaigrette (see recipe below)

  1. Artfully arrange first thirteen ingredients in the center of six 10” salad plates.
  2. Drizzle each salad with a half-ounce of tangelo vinaigrette.

Roasted Baby Beets

Ingredients:
6 red baby beets
6 Chioggia baby beets (commonly known as candy cane or candy stripe beets)
6 gold baby beets
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Remove stems from beets.
  2. Toss each colored beet with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Bundle each color in aluminum foil and bake in 350 ° F oven for 90 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature and peel skin.
  5. Cut beets in half.

Roasted Eggplant Puree

Ingredients:
2 large eggplants
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Char-roast two large eggplants over a wood fire until blackened and very soft.
  2. Place into a covered container with a tight fitting lid and allow to self-steam at room temperature.
  3. When eggplants have cooled enough to handle, remove from container and discard charred skin.
  4. Place roasted eggplant flesh, olive oil, salt, and pepper into food processor and pulse until smooth.

Tangelo Emulsion

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh squeezed tangelo juice
3 and 1/4 cups filtered water
3/4 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon tangelo zest
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons Agar agar powder

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring water, sugar, salt, zest, and saffron to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain through a chinois into a clean medium saucepan and add agar agar.
  5. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly; allow to boil for 1 ½ minutes, continuing to whisk.
  6. Pass through a chinois into a shallow pan and place over ice water to cool until completely set.
  7. Transfer to a blender and add the tangelo juice; blend on high speed until smooth, using the ladle as needed to agitate puree to ensure every bit is blended.
  8. Strain through a chinois, transfer to a squeeze bottle, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Preserved Lemon

Ingredients:
5 lemons
1/3 cup Kosher salt

  1. Quarter the lemons from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom.
  2. Gently spread open the quarters and sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh.
  3. Close the lemons, holding the quarters together, so that they retain their original shape.
  4. Place 1 tablespoon of salt on the bottom of a mason jar.
  5. Pack the lemons into the jar and push them down, adding more salt between layers.
  6. Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. Leave some air space at the top before sealing the jar.
  7. Let the lemons ripen for 30 days in a warm place, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice.
  8. To use, rinse the lemons, remove and discard the pulp, and julienne the peel.

Pistachio-crusted Goat Cheese “Bonbons”

Ingredients:
3 cups fresh goat cheese
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup Sicilian pistachios, chopped

    Directions:

  1. Mix goat cheese, heavy cream, thyme, salt, and pepper in bowl and roll into eighteen 2/3oz “bonbon” shaped balls.
  2. Roll each goat cheese bonbon in chopped pistachios until well coated.

Baby Fennel Bulbs

Ingredients:
6 baby fennel bulbs, reserve fronds
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Place fennel bulbs in a shallow baking dish and coat with olive oil.
  2. Season bulbs with salt and pepper, cover, and slow roast at 200 ° F for 90 minutes or until very soft (but no color).
  3. Allow to cool and then quarter.

Kalamata “Soil”

Ingredients:
1 4-ounce packet dehydrated Kalamata olives
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
¼ cup cocoa nibs, which can be found at specialty grocer or gourmet kitchen retailer
1 and ½ teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
½ cup pumpernickel bread crumbs, toasted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Pulse all ingredients in food processor until mixture resembles soil.

Tangelo Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed tangelo juice
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Whisk all ingredients together.

 

* For those who are using Le Cordon Bleu® Recipes from MasterCook, these recipes have been automatically added to your online recipe collection and are ready to sync with your desktop version of MasterCook, where it will be added to Le Cordon Bleu® Blog Cookbook.