In 2013, Dominique Crenn became the first female chef in America to receive two Michelin stars for her San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn. When Dominique and I spoke after the publication of her new cookbook “Atelier Crenn: Metamorphosis of Taste,” she told me her parents, along with writers, artists and composers, inspired many of the recipes.
Dominique recalled her mother used to often made Kir Breton for guests back home in Brittany. Dominique’s version calls for the cider to be frozen into spheres that are then encased in shells made from cocoa butter and white chocolate. The shells are dotted with crème de cassis and at the restaurant, Chef Krenn serves the flavor bombs on small pedestals so guests can enjoy them in one bite.
Kir Breton à la Dominique Crenn
Yield: Serves 20 as amuse-bouches
250 g (1 cup) apple cider (either alcoholic or nonalcoholic)
450 g (16 oz) cocoa butter
60 g (2 oz) white chocolate
150 g (⅔ cup) crème de cassis
22 g (¾ oz) Ultra-Tex 3 tapioca-derived thickener
Spherical ice cube trays (1” diameter, enough to make 20 spheres)
Double boiler or a large metal bowl that fits snugly over a saucepan
Sharp pin, for handling
Small squeeze bottle
20 Chinese porcelain soup spoons
Prepare the cider balls: If you are using alcoholic apple cider, simmer it in a saucepan over low heat for 15 minutes to evaporate the alcohol and promote proper freezing.
Pour the cider into spherical ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
Day Two (At least six hours before serving)
Temper the white chocolate: Fill the bottom of a double boiler or a medium-size saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Set the top of the double boiler or the large metal bowl snugly over the pot and attach a cooking thermometer to the side. The boiling water should not come into contact with the top portion of your double boiler or the bowl.
Melt the cocoa butter and white chocolate in the top of the double boiler or bowl and heat over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until it forms a smooth syrup (38°C/100°F to 43°C/110°F).
Coat the cider balls: Prick a frozen cider ball with a sharp pin, using the pinhead as a handle to hold it. Dip the ball into the hot white chocolate syrup for 1 second and remove. Place the coated cider ball back into the ice tray. Extract the pin from the coated cider ball and use your finger tip to smooth over the pin prick spot. Repeat for each one.
Leaving the tray tops off, cool the trays of white chocolate balls in the refrigerator. The shells will harden in the refrigerator while the cider melts within, resulting in a spherical white chocolate shell filled with liquid apple cider.
For the crème de cassis: Pour the crème de cassis into a medium-size bowl. Whisk the Ultra-Tex 3 into the crème de cassis and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a small squeeze bottle. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve: Transfer the white chocolate covered cider balls to Chinese porcelain soup spoons and top each one with a pea-size dot of crème de cassis reduction. These Kir Breton balls are meant to be popped into your mouth and consumed in a single bite.
Note: Reserve any unused chocolate syrup to repurpose for any other use.
Text excerpted from “Atelier Crenn: Metamorphosis of Taste” ©2015 by Dominique Crenn. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.