Astrid Gutsche, head pastry chef at Astrid y Gaston (Lima, Peru)
Astrid is the female half of the famous team behind Astrid y Gaston, the restaurant that was the first to develop a gourmet cuisine in Peru and which was last year nominated as the second best Latin American restaurant following its previous year award as best. It is also ranked no. 18 best in the world.
Astrid’s husband, Gaston Acurio, is the most famous name in Peruvian cuisine. Together they have created 44 restaurants in different countries. One is soon to open in London. Gaston first met Astrid, who was born in Germany, during their schooling at the famous Cordon Bleu in Paris. Astrid seeks to a balance between the sweet flavours evident in the restaurants with the same passion she has for life in general and her love for dance in particular.
What does chocolate mean for you?
Chocolate was really part of my childhood , I can´t remember a single day without it. Christmas was the “chocolatiest” season ofthe whole year and I remember my dad taking me almost every Saturday to all those little chocolate boutiques in Paris to find any new treasure that we didn´t try yet. His favorite was gingerconfit in dark chocolate. But chocolate is also this very special , complex and delicate treat that tries to tell you a story. A story of hope, perseverance, of love, of struggle, of unification of so many native communities who are using the cacao as a tool to better their life. Behind each truffle, each little piece of chocolate there is a child, parents, a whole family who little by little did start a new life where dreaming is finally possible.
Why have you chosen this dessert? What is in your opinion so special about it?
I like this desert because it has so many contrasts . The flavors start to combine better while the chocolate heats up and creates new effects in your mouth. And since you receive it in a little chocolate sphere it´s like a present. A kind of surprise where you don´t know what´s inside until the walls do collapse under the heat effect or blow torch .
Please describe your dessert – tell us please about the flavors, temperatures and textures …
It´s a thin dark chocolate sphere (70 % made from cacao Awajun from the Amazonas region ) with crunchy salted Andean corn, that encloses a creamy sweet potato ice cream with cinnamon, a rich and dense lightly salted toffee sauce, crispy but still juicy sauteed apples, algarrobina jelly and a vanilla bean nitrogen that offensively melts under your tongue. Once served, you want to blow torch one side of the sphere so it does melt creating a temperature contrast between the very frozen vanilla bean cream and the smooth and warm melting chocolate.
What has inspired you to create it? How was it born?
It´s not my first desert in shape of a chocolate bomb. I usually recreate deserts that already exist enclosing them in a chocolate sphere and giving them new textures .
Does it require any special technique?
Nothing really new. You just want to fill it very fast and serve it right away so your client will be able to appreciate the smoky effect of the nitrogen cream.
What was the special challenge with it?
It´s a matter of technique. You want the walls of the bomb to be as thin as possible , which usually makes it a little difficult to unmold. And then you have to measure out the amount and the strength of heat of the blow torch. It´s a little bit of heat on one side of the sphere so it just partly melts . And be careful you don´t want to burn it . So it has to be done quickly.
Any final message for our readers?
If you feel like doing that recipe I recommend you to feel free about it. Just enclose emotions in a chocolate sphere. Maybe a desert that your mommy used to prepare, or flavors that you remember from your childhood. Be naughty, witty and play with the ingredients , trying to incorporate different textures and temperatures. A desert should never be boring . Every spoon should bring you a new and grateful experience.