While attending the International Wine and Food Fest‘s Grand Cru tasting last Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting David Guas of Damgoodsweet Consulting Group. I was drawn to his table after Bonnie Benwick insisted I try his delightful Chèvre Cheesecake. And delightful it is! With a slight tang from the goat cheese and a hint of a kick from the peppercorns, this is a dessert with a serious WOW factor! Serve it at your next dinner party and your guests are sure to be asking for the recipe… and leftover cheesecake to take home! (David was nice enough to share the recipe – see below!!!)
Oh, I almost forgot – David’s delightful too! Serving up his cheesecakes in a seer-sucker chef’s coat (I was swooning over the coat!), David was telling attendees about the upcoming opening of Bayou Bakery, his next culinary adventure where people will be able to stop by and pick up good ole’ southern desserts (think New Orleans) and even grab a bite for lunch!
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
I think I’m torn between my propane torch and my hand held immersion blender. The torch, it seems, I use for a lot of little things. I use it for removing air bubbles from unbaked brûlées and custards, caramelizing sugar, and heating up the sides of my electric mixer’s bowl while creaming butter and sugar or while making buttercream.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Soufflés, hands down. I don’t know what the big deal is with them. I’ve made them for over 12 years and people love them. Maybe I’m just burnt out from making them.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
It would, and will soon be, a tribute to my home state, Louisiana. I will be opening a place called Bayou Bakery which will primarily focus on the sweets of my childhood and have a few non-sweets as well for the lunch crowd.
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
As simple as he says it is to produce, I love Pipedream Farms fresh Chèvre curd. It has the perfect saltiness and texture. Brad Parker, the owner, is a genuine guy and loves what he does and he really seems to enjoy his relationship with his clients (mostly chefs).
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
When a guest says, “It’s not right,” or, “It tastes off.” After being asked what’s wrong with it or to elaborate, they don’t know how to or they give you nothing in the way of detailed and intelligent feedback. Boy, do I sound bitter!
What do you drink/eat after work?
Bourbon or beer to drink and anything fried or slow cooked (braised).
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I love making pizza with my two boys, Kemp and Spencer. Something about the dough and watching them try to toss it up in the air just makes me laugh. I also love to make turkey meatballs and fresh pasta (my wife doesn’t eat pork or beef).
Pepper-Port Syrup, Pine Nut and Rosemary Crisp
David Guas, Chef Owner
Damgoodsweet Consulting Group, LLC
yields 12 4-ounce portions
4 ounces cream cheese
12 ounces fresh chèvre
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups crème fraîche
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 each vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 sheets gelatin
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add cream cheese and chèvre to large heat-proof bowl and place above pot of simmering water. Let cheese soften and melt.
Add heavy cream, crème fraîche, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds (which have been scraped from split bean) to bowl of stand mixer. Using whip attachment, whip on high until medium peaks form, about 1 minute. Reserve.
Submerge gelatin sheets one at a time in a bowl of ice water and allow each sheet to soften or “bloom” (approximately 5 minutes). Remove each softened gelatin sheet from water and squeeze excess water out of sheet. Add gelatin to softened cheese and whisk until dissolved and smooth (note: cheese must be hot before gelatin is added). Remove bowl from above simmering water. Add salt. Whisk approximately 1 cup of reserved cream mixture into warm cheese. Fold in remaining whipped mixture using a rubber spatula to fully incorporate it.
Immediately portion batter into 6-ounce glass cups or a highball glass, filling each about two-thirds full (approximately 4 ounces of batter). Place a towel on the countertop and gently tap the bottom of the glass on the towel to settle the filling. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours prior to serving.
3 cups port wine
1 tbsp whole peppercorns, roughly cracked
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Place all ingredients in 2-quart saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduced by one-quarter. Remove from heat and strain. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Finished syrup should have consistency of honey.
Pine Nut and Rosemary Crisp
yields about 30-40 crisps, depending on shapes and sizes
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tsps roughly chopped rosemary
4 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup egg whites (approximately equivalent to whites of 4 large eggs)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast pine nuts in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, transfer to bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
Once nuts have cooled, place them in bowl of food processor with rosemary and flour. Blend for 1 minute and reserve.
To bowl of stand mixer, add butter and powdered sugar. Using the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, cream together, about 1 minute. Incorporate the egg whites in three intervals, allowing the mixture to come together before adding more. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated; do not overmix. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours prior to using (will keep in refrigerator to 2 weeks).
To bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place silicone non-stick baking mat flat on dry working surface. Using a piping bag fitted with a small plain round tip, pipe thin lines of chilled batter (about 5 inches in length) on the mat, about 1 inch apart. Slide the mat onto a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Remove baking sheet from oven. Working quickly, carefully wrap each piped line around the handle of a wooden spoon or small wooden dowel. Let harden, about 1 minute, and then slowly slide the crisp off the spoon handle. Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.