5 tips and tricks for taking your homemade desserts to the next level

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 March 2015 | UPDATED: 08:29 09 March 2015

Rhubarb and Custard Mousse

Rhubarb and Custard Mousse


This is wrong, tempting you with a sweet but head pastry chef Stefan Rose believes all good things in moderation

Measure ingredients carefullyMeasure ingredients carefully

Head pastry chef Stefan Rose is passionate about creating wonderfully delicious desserts that not only taste good but look good. He discovered a love for cooking while entertaining friends during his time studying at Leeds University. After graduating he began in professional kitchens in Leeds where he quickly found his forte working on the often neglected pastry sections. His first head pastry chef position was at the award-winning Create Restaurant, Leeds and since then he has gained experience in a host of Michelin star kitchens around the country including the Box Tree in Ilkley, Marcus Wareing (now Marcus) at the Berkely in Knightsbridge, Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social and even some brief work experience at his food hero Gordon Ramsey’s three Michelin star restaurant in Chelsea.

Stefan joined Crafthouse & Angelica in Leeds in April 2013 and loves to create unique desserts using local seasonal produce whenever possible and is happiest when the amazing Yorkshire forced rhubarb is in season.

Here are Stefan’s five tips and tricks for taking your homemade desserts to the next level.

Here are Stefan’s five tips and tricks for taking your homemade desserts to the next level.

TIP 1: Learn to make caramel

Stefan adds orange zest to rhubarb moussStefan adds orange zest to rhubarb mouss

Being able to make a dry caramel is a foundation skill in any professional kitchen, and learning to do it at home opens up possibilities of dreamy ice creams, unctuous sauces and many other tasty treats!

Adding a touch of salt to a caramel takes it to another dimension, or….

Try stirring nuts into a dry caramel to make your own caramel praline, or….

Add a small knob of butter and some Rice Crispies to make a lovely crunchy garnish to finish a dessert.

NOTE: Be careful - sugar turns to caramel at a very high temperature so take care.

Recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce

Stefan spoons rhubarb mouse into a dessert glassStefan spoons rhubarb mouse into a dessert glass

200g caster sugar

500g double cream

3g sea salt

1 vanilla pod, seeds removed

To make a dry caramel place caster sugar in a pan and heat over a medium heat.

As the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan around to distribute the heat and eventually the sugar will start to take on a lovely golden amber colour as the sugar caramelises.

Keep cooking and swirling until all the sugar has melted and the caramel is a lovely dark brown and begins to smoke a little.

At this point carefully add half the cream (the mixture will spit and splutter a little so take care) and whisk to combine.

Stefan pours rhubarb mouse into a cream whipperStefan pours rhubarb mouse into a cream whipper

Add the remaining cream together with the salt, vanilla pod and seeds and bring the mixture back the boil, whisking to dissolve any bits of hard caramel.

Turn down to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes to thicken then pass through a fine sieve.

This is perfect served hot, poured generously over vanilla ice cream.

TIP 2: Use accurate scales

It may seem obvious but get a reliable set of scales. Successful pastry work is all about precision. So before embarking on your latest pudding challenge, make sure you have a good set of electronic scales which weigh things to the gram. It will give you the greatest chance of success and help you to avoid any dessert disasters!

A cream whipper  a must-have kitchen gadgetA cream whipper  a must-have kitchen gadget

TIP 3: Rhubarb + custard + air = pudding magic

One must-have kitchen gadget is a cream whipper (you might have seen a barista using one to top a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream.) This gadget (which is readily available through the internet and at specialist suppliers) has a multitude of uses for making fun and delicious desserts. In this recipe I use it to add a modern and light touch to a childhood favourite: rhubarb and custard. Rhubarb is my favourite ingredient in the world - Yorkshire farmed rhubarb, the pink tender sticks of joy which arrive in my restaurant provide a much needed fruity lift to puddings. Yum!

Recipe for Rhubarb and Custard Mousse

For the custard:

200g whole milk

A pastry chef is never without vanillaA pastry chef is never without vanilla

200g double cream

6 egg yolks

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

40g caster sugar

For the rhubarb purée

500g Yorkshire forced rhubarb

100g caster sugar

Chunks of parkin top the dessertChunks of parkin top the dessert

Zest of 1 orange

Splash of orange juice

To serve

Top with homemade or good quality shop bought Yorkshire parkin or ginger cake, cut into cubes

For the custard

1 Heat the milk and cream together in a pan together with the vanilla, meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale.

2 When the hot cream mixture is almost at boiling point, pour one third onto the egg yolks and caster sugar while whisking, then pour everything back into the pan and cook out over a low heat for about 5 minutes until the custard has just thickened enough so that it coats the back of a wooden spoon.

3 Quickly remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve into a bowl.

4 Place a layer of cling film over the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming and place it in the fridge to cool.

For the rhubarb purée

1 Place all of the ingredients in a pan and place over a medium heat.

2 Cook out the rhubarb, stirring every now and then until it is very tender.

3 Blend either in a food processor or with a hand held blender to a smooth purée.

4 Chill in fridge.

To finish

1 Combine the chilled custard with two thirds of the rhubarb purée and mix well.

2 Pass it through a fine sieve and pour into the cream whipper. Charge with the gas charges, shaking well after each charge, and place in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

To serve

Divide the remaining rhubarb purée between 6 serving glasses. Dispense the rhubarb and custard mousse from the cream whipper into the glasses. Top with cubes of Yorkshire parkin and serve.

TIP 4: Make the most of vanilla

A pastry chef without vanilla is like a seamstress without her needle! It really is a wonderful flavour in its own right - used in an ice cream, panna cotta or whipped cream. But it is also a wonderful way to enhance a dish. When buying vanilla look for the plump, moist looking vanilla pods and make sure you store it in an air tight container or wrapped tightly in cling film to prevent it drying out.

TIP 5: Use your freezer

The more I develop as a pastry chef the more I find myself using a freezer. It is useful for so much more than storing fresh food.

Try freezing biscuit or shortbread before baking for a more pleasing texture.

Make a simple refreshing granita by freezing sweetened fruit juice and raking it up with a fork to form beautiful fruity ice crystals.

Freeze doughnut dough briefly before cutting out to fry for a well-shaped doughnut.


Stefan Rose is head of pastry at Crafthouse and Angelica, Trinity Leeds


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