The Chocolate Charmer

Meet Chef Girish Nayak, Pastry Chef extraordinaire at Olive Beach, a fine dining restaurant in Bangalore.

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(Gowrish and his buddy, Rocco)

I call him Gowrish. So do many others who have not faced his wrath in the bakery. Ask Baabul who is his assistant. The boy can barely keep from wetting himself in Chef Girish’s presence! Oh well…I don’t report into Gowrish nor do I work with him and that does give me the prerogative to tickle him (he IS super ticklish) or poke him in the sides of his ribs 😛 And ofcourse he kinda owes me. Because the first time I met him at a local bar called Tavern, with my then boyfriend (now husband) we had a super time and got pretty wasted, he more so and I had to help him to the restroom as he couldn’t walk straight! The recounting of this episode always embarrasses him so I wanted to make sure I captured it here – yes I am evil; deal with it.

Last evening, I spent an hour with Gowrish in his bakery at Olive Beach. He shared his recipe for Macarons and let me put this out there – his Macarons are the best in the country! Here goes.

Ingredients

Almond flour 150 gms
Icing sugar 150 gms
Egg whites 100 gms (2 portions of egg whites, each measuring 50 gms)
Superfine sugar 150
Water 37 gms

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Heat sugar and water in a pot to 118C or soft ball stage.

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When the sugar comes to a boil beat the the 1st set of egg whites to soft peaks. Then pour in the sugar while beating the egg whites and beat it until the bowl is cold to touch. Add color now and beat it until it has been well incorporated.

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In a medium-sized bowl  mix almond flour and icing sugar. Add in the 2nd set of egg whites and mix well; then fold in the meringue in three different sets.

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Pipe the mixture into your desired size and shape. And this is no mean feat. I tried my hand at it and it IS difficult. Sprinkle some candied rose petals over the piped Macarons. Let the Macaron shells sit until the outer skin is dry. Then bake at 140C for 16 min.

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After they are baked is when the fun starts. You can use different fillings and customize it into something simple or something exotic. Here are the different variations Chef Girish showed me.

1) With peanut butter filling and a touch of seasalt. Don’t forget to help yourself to some peanut butter straight from the jar 🙂 especially when the Chef’s back is turned away from you hehe 😉

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2) With ice cream or sorbet. Here we have a green Macaron with  mango mint sorbet and soft caramel.

(The green Macarons can be made by adding green food coloring instead of pink and sprinkling crushed pistachios instead of candied rose petals over the top before baking.)

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3) Dipped in molten chocolate. Take any Macaron, we did this with the green ones with peanut butter filling; bathe it in melted chocolate and chill it (not under the AC as Gowrish was trying to, but in a chiller 🙂 ) Blow some gold dust over the chilled Macaron that has been planted onto a stick ala a lollipop and voila! you have a Sindhi (because of the gold!) lollipop! This was my favorite because I am Sindhi and I love gold and I looove chocolate!

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As we were talking about Macarons and how they are so popular in India (Cronuts never really caught on), Chef Girish mentioned that he thought Eclairs were all set to become the next big thing and that Macarons were soon to be passe. After this, he proceeded to show me 3 different kinds of Eclairs – chocolate caramel with peanut butter, vanilla orange with pistachio, and vanilla cream cheese with rice krispies. I sampled the Eclair with rice krispies – to-die-for amazing taste!

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In these pictures Chef Girish is standing alongside his trusted assistant Baabul who was so happy to have his picture taken that he forgot he was scared of Chef! And here he is again with Chef…

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The last pastry I sampled is called “Kouign Amann” (pronounced “kween ah-MON”). It is laminated with butter and sugar and tastes best with a strong cappuccino – the most superlative breakfast pastry I have tried.

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So this was the outcome of spending an hour in Chef Girish’s kingdom; which is a treasure trove of all things sweet and delicious. Much like the person himself. And by the way ladies, Gowrish is single and unattached. So the next time you head to Olive Beach in Bangalore, feel free to bring along your best game. Don’t forget to order dessert (even if you are stuffed) and insist on calling out the Head Pastry Chef so you can congratulate him in person. And then be prepared to be charmed with a boyish, bashful grin. Finally, don’t forget to slip him your digits!

Bon Appétit!

 

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