This dessert was literally years in the making.
I began playing with this concept in later 2006. My original thought was a hot or warm rootbeer dessert, but at that time I didn't have the skills, techniques or tools. But I do now...
My original desire to make a from scratch rootbeer remained throughout the project. Here is the base recipe I used (you can get almost all of this from your local herb shop):
1 oz Sassafras root
.5 oz Dandelion root
1 oz Wintergreen
.5 oz Hops
1 oz Juniper berries
16 oz Sugar
8 oz Brown sugar
4 oz Palm sugar
4 oz Honey
2 gallons, water
Rinse sassafras and dandelion in cold water. Crush juniper berries and add along with hops and wintergreen. Boil water and pour half over the herbs. Simmer for a half hour.
Strain to get out everything you can. [I had to use sassafras powder since root is not easily accessible due to FDA warnings, so the powder is hard to get out. I tried paper coffee filters, gold tone filters, chinois and ultimately did a gelatin filtration. You may not need to be as picky as I was.] Add the sweeteners and the rest of the water. Let stand until just warm. Strain again.
Now that you've got this thick syrup that is intensely rootbeer-ish. You can use this for all sorts of things (which I'll be doing this weekend). Most importantly, take the opportunity to mix some into a glass of club soda and enjoy a fresh herbal soda.
But, let's get back to the dessert!
First I used my smallest half sphere silicone mold and made a simple geleè. I believe I did 1 sheet of gelatin to 1 C. Slovakian sour cherry syrup - just warm the syrup and add the softened gelatin. If you only have powdered gelatin, I believe the conversion is 1 t. I let this set up and threw it in the freezer for a futile freezing session (too high in sugar to actually freeze).
Next I made an intense vanilla bavaroise for my "ice cream."
150 g Milk
30 g Sugar
2 Egg yolks
1 T. Vanilla paste (or seeds from 2 beans)
5 Sheets gelatin (or 5 t. if my conversion is correct)
200 g Whipped cream
Bring milk just to a boil. In separate bowl, combine yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add a half cup of the hot milk whisking to temper the mixture. Pour mixture back into remaining hot milk and continue whisking. Whisk/stir until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and add the softened gelatin. Let cool and fold in the whipped cream. Continue cooling until it starts to get thick enough to support weight. Pour into the next smallest half sphere silicone mold and fill almost to the top. Press the geleè into the center of the bavaroise. Freeze. The bavaroise will freeze but the geleè still won't.
Finally the rootbeer cremeux.
30 g Rootbeer syrup
180 g Heavy cream
3 Egg yolks
1 Sheet gelatin
Heat heavy cream until hot. Add syrup and combine. In separate bowl, whisk yolks. Pour a bit of the hot cream into the yolks and whisk, returning yolk mixture to remaining cream. Whisk in the softened gelatin. Cool until thick enough to support the weight of the bavaroise. Fill the largest half sphere silicone mold with cremeux about half way. Set the frozen bavaroise into the cremeux and level the tops. Freeze until hard.
Because of the way I devised this dish, you now need something to serve the float in, so let's spray a dish on! (any chance to pull out my Wagner power painter!) I simply melted cocoa butter, let it rest until room temp, then sprayed a few coats on to the bottom of the spheres. I was concerned that this might cause an awkward/slimy mouth feel, but it didn't. It was just "shell" enough to hold it all together, but crumbled instantly with any pressure (see pic below where I'm holding it).
Now, how about some garnish.
Roll out these barrels into a food processor and powderize them. Form them into a shape on your silpat. 400F and watch them until they melt
Once melted pull the sheet out and shape the strips. I used a half round of a PVC but you could drape them around a glass, make them wavy, whatever. I was attempted to elude to the shape on the side of a rootbeer float mug...didn't quite achieve what I was going for.
Drizzle a bit (sparingly because it is so intense) of the syrup and voila!