Courtney Joseph's Pumpkin Cake
Pastry Chef Courtney Joseph of Takashi and Slurping Turtle started off the night with a pumpkin cake with maple semifreddo. The pumpkin cake was her grandmother's recipe and very moist, perfect for soaking up the accompanying smoked vanilla ice cream. Candied cranberries added a necessary tartness to the sweet fall flavors.
Meg Galus' Gianduja Cremeux
This dessert by NoMI Kitchen's Meg Galus was inspired by peanut butter and jelly. Galus decided to use hazelnuts instead of peanuts, with a gianduja cremeux base, and concord grape in both a fresh and a gelée form. Coconut vanilla sorbet, grape foam and basil add a brightness to the rich chocolate. This was perhaps the lightest dessert of the bunch, since the grapes were incorporated in several forms throughout so the gianduja never became cloying. Although I have been known to eat chocolate hazelnut butter out of the jar with a spoon, so perhaps I have a different understanding of cloying than the average person.
Thomas Raquel's French Apple
Acadia's Thomas Raquel previewed an apple dessert that will appear on his fall menu beginning this week. A Granny Smith apple roasted in Calvados is served with a dollop of cinnamon custard and quenelle of canelé ice cream. It's topped with a caramelized puff pastry that adds just a subtle crunch to the warm and familiar apple flavors. This dessert was served with my favorite pairing of the evening, a "hot toddy" with spiced apple cider and Armagnac.
Patrick Fahy's Dark Chocolate and Ice Milk
When this dessert with smoking liquid nitrogen ice milk was placed before me, I had flashbacks to Sixteen's winter menu from January. A criollo dark chocolate mousse is topped with shards of ice cold milk with Banyuls red dessert wine sauce to cut through the fat with a fruity twang.
Elissa Narrow's Caramelia Pear Torte
Caramelia is a fairly new chocolate from the Valrhona brand, a 36 percent milk chocolate caramel that I've never been fond of. However, Elissa Narrow, the pastry chef at Perennial Virant and Vie, makes a case for this sweet chocolate variety by pairing it with Seckel pears and La Colombe Panama coffee with a layer of crunchy chocolate hazelnut praline.
Kymberli Delost's Foie Gras Mousse
The most daring and savory course of the evening came at the end from Storefront Company's own Kymberli Delost. The centerpiece was foie gras mousse topped with pieces of chocolate cake and frozen cream. Pain d'epices (gingerbread) crumble was sprinkled around the mousse and a splash of vinegar helped to cut through what was definitely the richest of our desserts to finish the evening.