When creating a new dessert, Greg Mosko can be inspired by anything from a pear to a BLT. For the past three years, Greg has been getting inspired as the pastry chef at North Pond, where his Cranberry, Ginger dessert is currently on the menu through the end of the month. This gingerbread mousse and cranberry sorbet creation was inspired by classic "homey" winter flavors and Thanksgiving dinner, which he admits is something he generally tries to get out of preparing, though he does oblige when he's occasionally called into the kitchen as a gravy pinch hitter.
As the original inspiration, gingerbread appears in three different iterations in this dessert: as a crumble beneath the cranberry sorbet, the crust to the gingerbread mousse bombe, and in the fluffy mousse itself, which features traditional gingerbread spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Greg said he generally develops a dessert in his head from start to finish—most often in his car on his commute to work. Starting with one flavor, he then figures out the best technique for showcasing that flavor. He thinks about where the crunch will come in, what complementary spices he could include, and where he can inject acidic, herby, or bitter flavors. Then he tries to balance a series of scales: salty-sweet, spicy-creamy, and soft-crunchy among them.
Greg recently allowed me to peek into his creative process in his corner of the North Pond kitchen. Click through the slideshow for a look at some surprising techniques, from microwave frying sage to testing the temperature of sugar with bare hands (a technique probably best left to the professionals).