How Le Bernardin’s Executive Pastry Chef Turned a Coconut into an Edible Work of Art – Sugar Coated

– I mean, I’ve just destroyed a– [loud slam] – Sorry. – Jesus! – There you go. – I’m at Le Bernardin, legendary New York City restaurant. One of the best in the world. I would’ve left my job of 11 years only to work here. Luckily, I get to still come here and hang out with Chef Thomas Raquel and we’re gonna make his coconut dessert. –

 

The ethos of the restaurant meaning, fish is the star of the plate, I think with this, like coconut, is the star of the plate. Like I look at the dessert menu as a collection. Each dessert should offer something. – Basically, to make this specific dessert, you are going through quite the process. – The main goal was to reinforce the flavor of coconut. It uses a lot of coconut products. Coconut water, coconut flesh – we will recreate the coconut. We start by cracking these young coconuts. We save the water to make the granita. Yeah, it’s great. – I just wanna, like, rub this. – Hydrating your skin. We got this, I have faith. Just don’t cut your fingertips off. I might pass out.

 

– One, two, three! Nope. – There you go, perfect, so. – What do you mean, perfect? – No, so, like, you just use that and just sort of press into that. You want a hammer? – I need a ladder. – There you go. – That’s all my might. – Like, pretend that coconut just killed your dog. – What, who? – Yes. – You can’t just say that! – There you go. So this will be saved to make, you know, we blend it to put on the mousse, or we cut it into strips. Being in America, all we know of coconut is Almond Joy, or some sort of processed way that it’s this chemicalized thing, and I think that’s why a lot of people don’t like coconut, ’cause it reminds them of sun tan lotion. So, like, for this dessert, the focus I really had was to try to use as many different coconut products as possible so the next step is building the shell. This is Manjari, you just wanna brush from inside out.

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How did you determine that this Manjari would be the chocolate to use? – It’s flavor-forward. Out of all the chocolates, it has that fruity flavor. If it was a darker chocolate, it would have overpowered the flavor of the coconut. – And then what’s the next layer after that? – It called Orelys, kind of like a caramelized white chocolate. Instead of refined sugar, they use muscovado sugar. It has an easy flavor, and we actually– – [Rebecca] More coconut. – [Thomas] Need coconut flakes in there. It adds texture. – [Rebecca] And enforces the flavor, yeah. – [Thomas] The flavor of coconut, yeah. – So when you first did this, how many times did it take you to figure out the layering? – I would say, a week. We had a lot of molds, so I tried different chocolates, and different mousses on each one. – Okay. – The shell was the toughest part.

I don’t want the dark chocolate flavor to overpower the coconut so like the thickness, like I want it to be thin but it breaks during service. – Right. – So, we painted the outside a little thicker. – [Rebecca] This is a very intensive process. – Yeah, this is why my team loves me. There’s a lot of coconut mousses out there, but it doesn’t taste like coconut. What I found that the coconut puree separating the water, and just using the coconut fat essentially, reinforces the flavor of coconut. So this is the coconut bavarois. It’s a coconut mousse. We added gelatin to the coconut puree, folded in an Italian meringue and whipped cream. – Yep, God that’s so good! – After like, six hours, when the mousse is frozen So, we just unmold it. You gotta get the middle out. – I’m just so scared it’s going break in my hand. – [Thomas] Paint the outside first. – That looks like the exterior of a coconut. They’re sweating, they’re working hard. – Like, I want it to taste the coconut, and I want it to look like a coconut. It should feel organic.

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The integrity of something needs to be there. Flavor is subjective, but the technique is not. It’s either right or it’s wrong. – Watching you do it, it seems much easier, but since the shell is cold, it’s freezing immediately. But why does mine not look as textured as yours? Am I putting too much chocolate? – Yeah I think– – I’m putting too much chocolate. – [Thomas] You just need to dab it off, yeah. – Oh gosh! You’re on another level, that’s all I know. So I’ve put on too much chocolate, I didn’t work fast enough, I didn’t dab the brush, so my coconut does not look like your coconut. – Well, it’s your first time. They’re called kitchen snags. – Oh, I didn’t make a good coconut, guys! – What we have here is the coconut cake, folded in toasted coconuts, we’ll just replaced, instead of vegetable oil, we replaced it with coconut oil. – To really reinforce that. –

Hit ’em with the coconut flavor. This is the soak: coconut milk, rum, eggs, like a coconut custard. After the cake soaks overnight, we toss it in toasted coconut flakes. This is roasted pineapple. This is a rum caramel. It’s just a kilo of sugar and deglaze with the rum. And we just sprinkle salt, we put it in the oven for 10 minutes, and I just baste it until it’s roasted. So we froze the coconut water. – Yeah, amazing. – These are fresh passion fruit. We actually strain the juice out, and I reduce it. I just add inverted sugar. – It was always my dream to work at Le Bernardin, I just never thought I would actually be, like, the pastry chef here. Like I’m classically-trained, I love a lot of classic flavors. You know, my style is a little bit more organic, it’s a little bit more playful, but obviously here it’s a three Michelin star, how can I help uphold that, – Yeah. – yet staying true to the desserts that I believe in? Somebody recently said like, “You know, when I looked at your desserts, I didn’t think it was gonna taste good ’cause it was too beautiful.

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” Most beautiful desserts are never tasty. – Totally. – I think desserts should still be delicious. – Yeah. – It shouldn’t just be conceptualized. People get stuck on the bells and whistles and then it’s like, do you wanna eat that? That’s the great thing of here, is that you have to deliver. It needs to be beautiful and it needs to be tasty. We have the pineapple ribbons. This is the cake. The pina colada. Coconut strips. Candied passion fruit. Micro cilantro. A coconut. The last thing, obviously, is granita. – Alright, how would, should I just smash it? – Yeah, cut it in half. See all your hard work. – Ooh, that shell. I think I have tears forming. Only in this eye though, just one eye.

This is really good, not only are you getting the flesh and the juice, and then the great balance between the rum and the pineapple and the passion fruit, it’s really good and then you don’t really get a lot of that chocolate flavor. Essentially, what you’ve done here is deconstruct a coconut and rebuild it in your own way. – Right, how many techniques could you apply into a coconut and yet stay true to the coconut? Desserts should be just as strong as the first course, or the main course, because it’s the last impression you’re leaving the guest. – Yep, end it on a good note. – Always end it on a good note.