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One thing a lot of people don't realize about professional pastry work is how much time really goes into things. Long term planning is a significant part of almost everything I do, and I'm not just talking about things like breads that need to hydrate, rest and rise.
For example, the signature dessert at my current job takes a minimum of 3 days to makes from beginning to end: layers are baked, fillings are made and chilled overnight. The next day, the layers are trimmed and fillings are whipped, then stacked together in a large frame and placed in the freezer to set up solid overnight. The day after that, the frame is removed and the whole thing cut into slabs, then one inch bars. After a final thorough chill in a freezer, they're glazed with a warm chocolatey glaze then finally set up in the fridge for service.
That may be a fairly extreme example, but in my part of the kitchen, even things like ice cream take at least a couple of days to properly make. Thoroughly chilling the base in the refrigerator overnight is a trick most ice cream hobbyists already know about—it thickens the base considerably which makes for a faster churn time and smoother final product, and helps to develop flavors as well.
One flavor I make requires three days to reach its full potential, but when it finally does, it's worth it. Rum raisin is a classic flavor incredibly popular in the Caribbean, but not so much in the states (too many irrational raisin-haters perhaps). I tasted it for the first time in Costa Rica and have had a soft spot for it ever since.
Raisins are soaked in dark rum for up to 2 days (the longer the soak time, the more they'll absorb) and are churned into a base that seems fairly bland at first, with faint accents of brown sugar and cinnamon. After setting up for a full 24 hours, though, the rum flavor leaches into the ice cream itself and the bite of pure rum in the raisins mellows out considerably. And all the extra sugar and alcohol keeps the ice cream smooth and soft, ready to serve straight out of the freezer.
About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna.
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