Making her way through the crowded walkways of Bangalore’s HAL Market, a chef pauses before one of the many Indian street vendors’ push carts to examine his seasonal offerings. Elaine Young, a pastry and chocolatier consultant based in Melbourne, Australia, is on assignment for a recent client, developing signature sweets for SMOOR’s high-end couverture chocolate “lounges” throughout the city.
An Indian-inspired entremet
When developing new products for clients, Elaine draws inspiration from the sights, scents and flavors gathered during her travels abroad. Strolling through the streets of Bangalore, she researches sweet shops filled with tray upon tray of popular treats made from milk in its various forms: fresh, yogurt, condensed milk or blocks of khoya derived from dried, evaporated milk solids. Traditional treats such as kesari rasmalai, a type of milk dumpling with pistachios soaked in a sweet saffron-infused cold milk soup, and frozen pistachio kulfi made from milk, rose water, sugar and pistachios serve as just some of the inspiration for Elaine’s creations for SMOOR.
"As a master pastry chef and chocolatier, Elaine Young customizes her desserts to suit the tastes and preferences of each culture's consumer bases."
Caramelized Milk - Pistachio - Cardamom - Saffron - White Chocolate
The entremet, a layered mousse cake, may not have its place in the traditional vocabulary of Indian sweets but translates well with its complementary flavors and contrasting textures. Elaine’s Indian-inspired entremet juxtaposes caramelized milk, pistachios, cashews, cardamom and saffron as flavors well-suited to the Indian palate. As a base, Elaine lays down a thin sheet of pistachio and cardamom sponge cake, upon which she adds a thin layer of crispy caramelized pistachio and cardamom croustillant for crunch. Over this, she positions the toasted white chocolate and saffron-infused pistachio cremeux, which is then surrounded by a separate toasted white chocolate mousse. To finish, the entremet is coated in a sweet, rich caramel glaze.
Elaine's Edible Journeys
Development chefs like Elaine can be found in test kitchens around the globe, creating new recipes and product lines for leading brands, restaurant and hotel groups. Traveling the world from one client to the next has its allure, but being a development chef comes with its challenges. As a master pastry chef and chocolatier, Elaine customizes her desserts to suit the tastes and preferences of each culture's consumer bases. An Indian-inspired entremet might not suit the European palate, for example. Or, European-style cakes and cookies might need to be adapted to appeal to an Australian or American consumer. The role of a development chef requires considerable cultural dexterity and fluidity.
"Development chefs can be found in test kitchens everywhere, creating new recipes and product lines for leading brands, restaurant and hotel groups."
Growing up of Chinese descent in the Philippines, Elaine recalls the many cross-cultural influences of her childhood. There, desserts like leche flan or Filipino sweet buns like pandesal and ensaymadas still reflect the lasting culinary impressions leftover from centuries of Spanish colonization. In many ways, Elaine’s creations speak to the globalization of ingredients and the increased experimentation we see on menus nowadays. Concepts like her Raspberry - Matcha - Walnut - Yogurt Shortbread for the Asian market or her Strawberry - Parmesan - Hazelnut - Chocolates for the European market give us just a taste of her full range of signature treats. Try them below and follow along on Elaine's Edible Journeys for more!