At a recent gala dinner Chef Christine Dahl and I were enlisted to prepare a dessert of some 260 guests at Hearst Castle. The recipe of choice needed to pair with a cremant wine from Schramsberg winery. Normally I am not prone to fanciful names for recipes. Since this was at Hearst Castle, we indulged in a flight of fancy. The choice proved to be prescient. The low cloud cover danced around the Castle in the early evening and turned into a mist-like fog that swirled around the north terrace were the dinner was held.
Hugh Davies of Schramsberg winery sent this note about matching this wine with food.
"I like fruit-based desserts with the Cremant Demi-Sec. It is made from Flora, which is a Gewurztraminer / Semillon cross. This varietal offers fruit flavors reminiscent of exotic stone fruit: pear, peach, apricot. It also has spent more than three years in contact with the yeast sediment; thus it has the toasted bread component that works well with pastries. Subtle oxidation imparts caramelized and nutty nuances to the wine, which can also help it match well with nuts (think toasted almond), honey, light caramel, and even dried fruits."
So, stone fruit, pastries, nuts, caramel flavors... The dessert that emerged utilized house made puff pastry topped with a sugar-pistachio nut blend that caramelized while baking. Fresh peaches were poached in a vanilla-cremant syrup with less sugar than a usual syrup contians. The puff pastry was split and filled with a simple white chocolate mousse (the "cloud"). Sauce was a classic vanilla custard dotted with pistachio oil and garnished with a pecan brittle. Thus stone fruit, pastries, nuts, caramel flavors. It was gratifying to see that after canapés and five other courses, the guests seemed to finish off the desseert with gusto.
Chef Michael Hutchings