One chef, one ingredient: caramel by Christophe Michalak

By Relaxnews | Published on November 25, 2013
  • For Christophe Michalak, caramel represents the quintessence of his love of good food.

    For Christophe Michalak, caramel represents the quintessence of his love of good food.

    © AFP PHOTO PATRICK KOVARIK

  • The Chef Christophe Michalak

    The Chef Christophe Michalak

    © All rights reserved

One chef, one ingredient: caramel by Christophe Michalak 25 Avenue Montaigne 75008 Paris fr

This week, Christophe Michalak, the head pastry chef at the Plaza Athénée in Paris, has chosen caramel.

Why did you choose this ingredient?

Christophe Michalak: Because it represents the quintessence of my love of good food!

What's your favorite memory or anecdote associated with the product?

CM: A salted butter caramel cream puff with a rich and fragrant delicate cream that melts in your mouth.

When is the ingredient in season?

CM: Because caramel is a flavor with a warming effect, it is better in fall or winter. That being said, I can eat it anytime!

What's the best way to prepare or cook it? Can you share a recipe?

CM: Cook 100 grams of caster sugar dry, without water. When the sugar melts and changes color, froth forms on the sides of the pan and the caramel is about 170°C. At this point, add 200 grams of hot cream with half a vanilla pod and a pinch of fleur de sel. Boil the mixture for a few minutes and then let it cool... Then you'll have a delicious caramel spread.

What other foods and ingredients does it pair best with?

CM: When it is paired with tonka beans, it tastes a bit like a "Carambar" (French caramel-based candy). It works very well with mango, chocolate, gingerbread, orange blossom...

What are the most common mistakes people make when cooking/preparing this ingredient?

CM: If it is overcooked, it is bitter and if it is undercooked, it is too sweet... cooking caramel is a very delicate process.

Do you serve it in your restaurant and in what dish?

CM: I like offering many takes on it: soft caramel, creamy caramel, light caramel mousse, crunchy caramel biscuits... I have also had an idea for a Banoffee-style caramel and banana Saint Honoré!

What wine or alcohol goes best with this ingredient?

CM: It goes very well with pastis, in moderation...

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