A sure sign of an accomplished artist (of any medium) is his/her ability to elicit an emotional response from the audience through his work. The same holds true for the culinary arts. Remember the scene from the movie Ratatouille when the food critic Anton Ego, tasting Remy’s ratatouille, is transported back to his childhood and his maman’s home cooking?
Such was the case for pastry chef Nancy Silverton, making a brioche tart for uber-chef Julia Child for the latter’s program Baking with Julia. After two bites of the dessert, Child burst into tears, crying “It’s the best dessert I’ve ever eaten!” Silverton, in a later interview, wondered if Child might have burned her mouth on some hot syrup that’s part of the dessert. Personally, I think Child was simply moved. Watch the episode and judge for yourself.
Another way to judge – and a yummier way – is to make the tart. It takes a load of patience, lots of care and time, but is actually easy to make. Brioche dough is made, shaped into a tart – a la galette – and spread with a crème fraiche custard. The hardest part is making the desert sauce called a sabayon. A syrup is made by caramelizing sugar and vanilla, which is whisked, while hot, into egg yolks. Then the mixture is cooked over hot water, all the while being whisked. (You have to do this for up to five minutes, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!) Finally, fruit is poached in some of the syrup. The whole dish is brought together for an elegant, yummy treat that is not cloyingly sweet, yet tasty and substantial to where you want more!
A jury of four didn’t cry over my attempt at the tart, but were in agreement that it was the best dessert they’ve eaten! The recipe can be found in Baking with Julia, available through CCLS. Other versions of the brioche tart can be found using your favorite search engine: sweet and savory recipes abound. The end result is worth the effort!
Photos of last year’s tribute to Julia Child are in our photostream. Click here to see them.
See some of the delicious dishes put together by the staff and myself in the 641 Project picture gallery.