Sauce Work (Reworking Classic Sauces and Infusion)

Sauce work is integral to the overall composition of plated desserts. Sauce is an important part of a dish’s appeal, both visually and in terms of flavor. Visually, a sauce’s presence on a plate can contribute an aesthetic excitement that would otherwise be absent. More importantly, sauces are one of the easiest methods of completing a full plate profile. They can be used to add yet one more harmonizing flavor to a particular dish.

When developing sauces for a specific plated dessert, the role of fat must be taken into account. Examine the plate profile of your dessert. Is the entrée’s middle note full of fat? If so, then choose a sauce whose middle note is carried by its clean flavors, not its fat-laden ingredients. Consider the classic dessert sauce, sauce anglaise. Sauce anglaise is a sweet, dairy-based sauce that is thickened by egg yolks. Its middle note is carried by the fat of the heavy cream and egg yolks. Consequently, anglaise is a sauce that should not be used when the dish’s entrée item also contains a large amount of fat. Think about a traditional Bavarian cream, or a rich chocolate mousse accompanied by sauce anglaise. The dessert’s plate profile has a huge middle note that does not allow room for a top or base note. On the other hand, if the entrée item of your plated dessert does not have much fat, then a creamy sauce will help to round out the dessert’s middle note.

The focus of all of these sauces is flavor. You will notice that they all contain little or no fat. The absence of fatty middle notes allows the strong, true flavors of each sauce to be fully appreciated. Most of the sauces have loud top and/or base notes. These sauces offer an easy way of completing a dessert’s full plate profile.

1- reworking classic sauces

Sauce anglaise is not the only classic dessert sauce with a fat-laden middle note. A classic chocolate sauce is made with ganache, a combination of heavy cream and chocolate (sometimes with the addition of butter). Sabayon, egg yolks and sugar, is yet another example of these traditional rich, fatty dessert sauces. Consider using infusion as a way of developing a bit more depth into the middle notes of these sauces. The result will be a rich sauce with some harmonizing background notes of flavor.

2- infusion

Infusion can be defined as extracting flavor from a fresh or dried herb or spice. Infusing flavor is similar to making a cup of tea. Tea leaves impart more flavor to a warm liquid than to a cold liquid. The flavor of tea becomes stronger the longer the tea leaves remain in contact with the liquid, the longer it steeps.

Similarly, there are two steps to infusion in the culinary and pastry world: heating and steeping. To extract the optimal amount of flavor, the herb or spice must be placed in a warm liquid rather than a cold liquid The longer the herb or spice remains in the liquid—the longer it steeps— the stronger the resulting flavor. This process requires constant tasting and cannot be done by simply following a recipe or formula. The time required to extract flavor from any one particular product is dependent, for the most part, upon its freshness. Freshly zested orange rind will, for instance, infuse into a dairy base quicker than a dried cinnamon stick. Remember the importance of repetition and taste the infusion throughout the production process.

When flavoring through infusion, always consider how the resulting flavored liquid is going to be used in the final product. For instance, if the finished product contains a large amount of fat (an anglaise ice cream base, or a Bavarian cream, for example) make sure that the initial infusion is strong. If the initial infusion has a wonderful gentle hint of lemon, realize that it will completely disappear as the other fattier elements of the recipe are added, such as egg yolks or heavy cream.

2-1 Infusions Versus Extracts

Using infusions brings a greater depth of flavor to the end product than using an extract or flavoring compound. Although there are some good extracts available, there is no comparison between a manufactured, distilled flavor and the real thing.

The advantage of extracts is their convenience. They can be easily measured and weighed and will offer consistent results with little effort on the part of the chef. Flavoring with extracts also means that the end result can be quickly adjusted. If a taste of the anglaise reveals that the almond flavor is too weak, for example, more extract can be easily added. Once an anglaise is made with an infusion, however, it is not possible to resteep the cream to increase its flavor as doing so will most likely break the sauce. Infusion requires more finesse from the chef, constant vigilance, and tasting throughout the process. Despite all of these factors, the flavor rewards of using an infusion are great.