Mihaela Dima, Pastry Chef Athénée Palace Hilton, is the one that adds the sweet touch to the hotel’s restaurant menus. She has more than 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry and 20 years since she devoted her passion and expertise to the hotel, where she creates spectacular desserts for Romanians, expats, diplomats and celebrities.
Throughout her career, she has prepared desserts for banquets of over 1,500 people, for large-scale events such as the Nato Summit, the George Enescu Concert, King Michael’s 90th Anniversary, the Centenary of the Athénée Palace Hotel and for famous names such as Nicolas Cage, Duffy, Roxette and the Rolling Stones.
The current foodie love affair with quality chocolate is relatively recent, dating back perhaps to the mid 1980’s when, Valrhona, a French chocolate maker started to manufacture couvertures that were true to the complex spectrum of cacao flavours. Before this time, most chocolate manufacturers were creating bland and over-sweet blends to appeal to consumers that were unaware of the universe of flavour that the best chocolate can make us experience. When Guanaja, the first ever 70% couverture was launched, it only had appeal among chefs that saw the sensational gastronomic potential of such a chocolate! Most consumers rejected it for being unbearably bitter and strong.
It is paradoxical that the original Aztec xocolatl was “a bitter drink only suitable for pigs”, as one conquistador wrote after trying the drinking concoction that Moctezuma offered Hernan Cortés, having tragically mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. In fact, Mayans and Aztecs believed that the cacao bean had magical, or even divine properties, and was often used in sacred rituals. When cacao was brought to Europe, it was prepared by mixing it with cane sugar, and in time it became the most fashionable drink throughout Europe for its nutritious, medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.
Recently, the popularization of Bean-to-Bar chocolate bars has rescued small cacao producers from bankruptcy and obscurity, and has saved us consumers from the ruin of flavour standardization. Recently, while talking to Irina Margareta Nistor for the “100 Chipuri” project, she confided to us that her favourite foods were chocolate, chili and wasabi, so in homage to her extraordinary legacy to Romanian culture, our Executive Pastry Chef Mihaela Dima created the most amazing dessert using all these tastes in one unique cup!
The Quadrilingual Parfait
dedicated to Irina Margareta Nistor
Ingredients for mousse
a. 550g double cream, whipped
b. 525g black Guanaja chocolate
70% (or similar)
c. 325g whole egs
d. 225g granulated sugar
e. 112g soft butter
f. Pinch of cayenne pepper
Instructions for mousse
• Boil the sugar with 80g of water to prepare a syrup
• Beat the eggs in the mixer and add the hot syrup, while continuing to mix
• Melt the chocolate in a Bain Marie, to create an emulsion
• Mix in a bowl, with a spatula, the chocolate and the mixture of the sweet eggs
• Now carefully add the whipped cream, the soft butter and the last touch: a pinch of cayenne pepper
Ingredients for crispy hazelnuts
a. 150g hazelnuts praline paste
(or hazelnut butter)
b. 90g melted milk chocolate
c. 80g shelled hazelnuts toasted and cracked
d. 150g of cornflakes
Instruction for hazelnut crisp
• Mix together the hazelnut paste and the melted milk chocolate
• Add hazelnuts and corn flakes, stir to combine
Instructions for the wasabi bonbon
• Take some sugar syrup made with 1 part water and 1 part sugar, and add a pinch of wasabi powder. Stir well until dissolved
• Keep in a freezer for 2 hours
How to assemble the parfait:
1. At the bottom of a martini glass put a little of the hazelnut crisp
2. On top of the hazelnuts, put some chocolate mousse. Better to do it with a pastry piping bag.
3. In the middle of parfait put a spoonful of the frozen wasabi syrup
4. Continue to fill the glass with chocolate mousse
5. Decorate with pure 70% chocolate curls