Chefs@Google: Karen Krasne

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 06.08.2012

>>Female speaker: Hi everyone, I'm Heather Stillman and on behalf of the Authors at Google
team here at Los Angeles, I'm honored to introduce to you today, my cousin, Karen Krasne, the
owner and executive Chef of Extraordinary Desserts. She will be speaking today about
her recent book, Extraordinary Cakes. Her cakes have graced the cover of Bon Appetite
and Forums recognized her as one of the country's Ten Best Pastry Chefs.
She has been featured in New York Times, Gourmet, Sunset and the Los Angeles Times, among other
publications. In 1988, Karen opened Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. A year later the eatery
was in such demand that Karen was able to expand from ten seats to sixty-five seats,
and in 2004, she opened a second location in San Diego's Little Italy.
Karen graduated with a degree from the University of Hawaii in Food and Human Nutrition, and
went on to study pastry making at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.
She has brought some of these fabulous desserts to share with us today, and now, Karen Krasne.
>>Karen Krasne: Thank you.
[Audience applauds]
>>Karen: So I'm just going to kinda start with the concept of what Extraordinary Desserts
is and what it's become. When we started in 1988, We just did desserts
at our one location that now seats a hundred and it's desserts seven
days a week. And then we opened a second location in Little Italy, where we seat about 250
people, and both locations are open until about eleven at night, midnight on the weekends.
And at the bigger location we do have food and wine, paninis and alcohol
and things like that so that we don't just have the desserts, so we've
become two different places that people love to go to one or the other, and they're really
fanatical about which one they prefer. So it's interesting because some
like The Original, as it's known, and some like The New. So I want to go
back a little bit on my background, I know Heather touched on it. I am born and raised
in San Diego, and I took off at about seventeen for Hawaii, and somehow
got a degree about eight years later. And it was Human Nutrition and
it was under the Tropical Ag genre at the University of Hawaii, so I think that's where
a lot of my tropical agriculture comes in here, and from there
you pretty much-- this was way way way back in the old days, so you sort of
had to go and get a Master's in Public Health or things like that and it just didn't sound
like that was good for me, so I took off to France, and spent about a
year and half there at different schools, Cordon Bleu was one of them. And
then came back to San Diego and started making cakes for like Nieman Marcus, some other very
high end establishments, and just sort of dropped off, peddled, you
know basically peddling to them, and built up a clientele enough that I
could open up a store that had ten seats. And from there the ten seats grew to sixty-five,
and a hundred and then the second store, and so on and so forth. So I
don't know, we're in about twenty-two years of business at this point, and
I decided to write the book, which took maybe two years to write. And I felt that it was
necessary to document the type of work that we do because it is so different
from what you see pretty much anywhere in the States and then,
likewise in Europe, where I just was for a couple of weeks and just got back ten days
ago. So what I think what we do that's so different is that we
really tried to use a lot of color, and a lot of fresh whatever is going
on in the market, in terms of flowers and fruits, and what not, and we also try to do
a spin on flavors so that it's not just the typical things you'd expect,
chocolate with raspberries, we infuse things, we use herbs, we use a lot of
yuzu, we use Matcha tea, we tend to follow the patterns of desserts that are going on
more, say, in the East coast, because I am in New York quite a bit, and
then in Paris, where I think is where pastry really has been born, and is
really studied, and has a metamorphosis beyond anywhere else that I've ever seen.
So I just finished a class over there which we call stagez. And it was three days and
eighty hours, I mean three days, eighty recipes, thirty five hours. And it
was really really incredible what is happening that is the same as it was
twenty-five years ago, but it's just become more flavorful, more simplified, less sugar,
less fat. They're following the same buzz words we're following here,
but it's introduced in a way that's a little bit more elegant over there.
Nobody feels that they're skipping or missing something. So today I thought that I would
make probably the easiest recipe in the book. The recipes tend to take
about two or three days for preparation, because they're cakes, and then
crèmes and then different layers that you build on it and then you end up freezing the
product, and then you take it out the day you're going to serve it and you
finish it up, so that it's nice and hard when you finish it, so you get
really clean edges like these cakes over here. If you try to make a cake, and put the frosting
in it and put the next cake layer on it, and frost it and put another,
and then you try to finish it, I mean it's all gobbledy-gook and
uneven and you know people always wonder "how are your cakes so perfect?" It's because they
had a stage where they got to be frozen for eight hours to twelve
hours to overnight and that's one of the key things in the book. But not
everyone has two or three days to make a cake so there's a few things in the book, one is
the bread pudding. I'm also gonna show you, not going to show you how
to make it, but this is an element in the book, this white chocolate
mousse, instead of having to make the cake that might take three days, you could just
make the mousse, and I've simply either put it in a large form in a
glass so you could use any kind of wine glass, goblet, that kind of thing,
or these are simple votive candles that you can pick up at Smart and Final. You can be
as creative as you want with some of the elements of the book and not have
to make cakes with them. So, I tried to break it down so that it does
seem like you wanna try for some of the hard projects, but then at the same time, I don't
want to make it so, you know, full of effort that you don't even want
to open the book.
So, the bread pudding basically has about 5 ingredients in it, and so I take the cream
and the milk, I just put it together in the pot, and I hope I have heat
going, let's see, it seems like it, okay and then the sugar is going in
the bowl with the egg yolks, I don't know if you all use vanilla beans or if you use
vanilla extract. If you're using a vanilla bean, you definitely want
it at room temperature, so it's really nice and pliable. And then when you
cut it open, you're going to use a sharp little knife like this to cut it open, and then when
you scrape out the meat, you use the back of the knife, not the
sharp, because you don't want the pith, which would be like getting the
pith from an orange or a lemon that's kind of bitter, so it's real important that your
knife is nice and sharp to cut open the bean like this and then it's going
to expose this really glistening, sort of dark meat. Those are the seeds
and are the most delicious part and the reason why you pay so much for a vanilla bean. So,
once I have that out, I just go ahead and put it in the pot in the
cream and the milk, and then I put the whole bean in there as well. And
then I've got my yolks and my sugar going here and I just mix those up, and we're going
to wait for the cream and the milk to come to almost a boil, and then we'll
pour that into the egg yolk mixture, we'll strain it, and that's
basically the crème brulee. So that's an element that you could take as crème brulee
and put in into little porcelain dishes and bake it off in a water bath in
the oven, and you don't even have to go further into this other aspect of
it. One of the things that I do use, that make
it a little bit easier for you, is they're store bought croissants, and
you need about ten of this size. And, you know, if they're kind of beige-y, not real
baked off, go ahead and put them back in your oven and bake them real firm,
because they're going to soak up all this crème brulee and get nice and
crusty, and it's nice and juicy. So the flat ones that are not, you know, real bronzed
in color, you definitely want to bake those again. And probably put them
in at about, I don't know, three fifty for about ten minutes, and get them
nice and colored. And you'll see that they're, you can see inside of the croissant, you see
all the texture in it. When they’re real mushy, you know, like
someone flattened 'em out, they're not going to be as fabulous, so you
definitely want this puffier kind. Yes?
>>female #1: So how drastic is it between using real vanilla versus vanilla syrup or
even fake vanilla extract? I can guess what you're probably
going to tell me, but...
>>Karen: I know. So the question is about a vanilla bean, versus an extract, or fake
vanilla or vanilla syrup. Well, I mean, your desserts are only as good as
your product. So I don't know that in this it's a deal breaker to use a
real vanilla bean but if you're making vanilla ice cream, if you're making vanilla mousse,
if you're making vanilla sauce, that would be when I would say you
should probably go buy the vanilla beans. But in this sort of a situation,
I am using such good chocolate, and this is valrhona, and I don't know if all of you know
about valrhona chocolate, but it's from the Rhone region in the Val
area of France, and there's probably, I don't know, twenty-five different
grades of chocolate, everything from fifty percent all the way up into eighty-two percent,
and you can pick and choose your flavors. We sell ten different
styles at Extraordinary Desserts, I am sure you can find it here at
Surface, but it's excellent chocolate and the one I am using today is sixty-one percent
and it just has a really true chocolate flavor, no berries, or jasmine or
coffee notes in it, it's just real clear chocolate. Okay good, this
is-- thank you.
[tapping on pot]
So, these are going to be our filler, the chocolate and the croissants, and once this
is finished, we'll put half of the crème brulee in the bottom, I use this
in the book, this kind of a mold, and you can either use this kind of a
thing or you can use an oval. Here's what this one comes up, it's great for a brunch
buffet, this is great family style. It's really however you want to present
it. You can also build them in little dishes that are porcelain like
that. Same kind of a thing, you just put the crème brulee in, put the croissants in , then
the chocolate and then layer them again like that, and then bake
it off and you're right there. So while we're waiting for this, I don't
know if anyone has any questions about desserts in general, or have an issue with something
that's not working out, but I'm not shy so....ask me.
>>female: I have a question, you mentioned that...first of all thank you so much for
being here. I actually came to your store many many times.
Is it working? Okay. Many many times in San Diego, um, but my question
was regarding to something you said earlier about the trend now in Europe is to actually
reduce sugar, reduce fats in the desserts, and what I saw is like cream
and sugar so this one is definitely not-- [Karen laughs]
Is your store now offering more these things, I haven't been recently?
>>Karen: Yeah, it's, I mean we're definitely offering more of vegan, gluten-free kinds
of products because it's a kind of huge buzz, in all of foods in general,
um, I mean in our downtown location we make a lot of vegan foods
as well in the salty section of the store, but there's always vegan cookies available,
and there's always something that's gluten-free because it has
become such a big thing. I'm not one that will just make something vegan
or gluten-free just to be in the market, I want it to be as good as the other product.
And so then I might choose either/or, and so it's taken me a little bit
longer to come up with those products that I think are just as high
quality in flavor and texture, sugar free is on my deck, and it's just kind of a scary
thing because you have to use like malitol, which is uh, you know, I
don't even like the 'tol' at the end, you know, so I kind of shy away
from it, but these products, like for example, this is white chocolate mousse with berries
in it and it's gluten free, so it just depends. It's not low in
fat, it's high in flavor.
[audience laughs]
You know? Um, so again, it's just choosing which route. I think that being said, I think
desserts is about like enjoying and over the top and it's not to
be done everyday, you know? So when you go for it, you kind a want to go
for it and you want to really get something fabulous at the end of it. So.
Okay, I've got hot cream and milk--
>>female #2: It just has to be hot?
>>Karen: Well, almost to a boil, sometimes I don't like to bring it to a boil, because
it creates a skin. Okay.
[sound of liquid pouring]
Okay, this is not for the faint, this pot. So you just mix it up, stir it all together.
>>Unknown speaker: Is it tough to make?
>>Karen: Sorry?
>>Unknown speaker: Is it tougher than it looks?
>>Karen: Nope. You don't need, you know, you don't need a mixer for this, this is like
this is..."friends are coming over, oh my gosh, what am I going to make?"
[tapping sounds]
And then I need to strain it. Oh my gosh, okay. Well, okay, it's a double bowl, we'll
deal with it.
[audience laughs]
Deal with it. So I'm just gonna strain it through here, and what that does it it collects
all the potential egg yolk that didn't, that coagulated that wouldn't
be nice and creamy smooth. Because let's say you do want this for crème
brulee, you don't want to make bread pudding, you definitely want everything to be strained
out of here, and it's nice to have like at the end, you've got the
grains from that vanilla, all the seeds, and it's good to have all that
in there and people see that you're using real vanilla beans. So, I think this will
be easy to see. So we're going to put half of it into the bottom, and
then half of the croissants, and then I take, this is two cups of
chocolate, so it's a lot of chocolate, so even if your croissants aren't flavorful,
they will be.
[audience laughs]
And then I go ahead and I take the rest of the croissants and I put it on, so it's like
you're building a sandwich.
>>female #3: Can I ask why you have the tin foil on there?
>>Karen: Because otherwise, my crème brulee is going to seep out. So while we were testing
this for the book, seeped out a few times, and I'm like, hmm,
this isn't going to be good.
>>female #3: From where?
>>Karen: From the bottom, because it has a push out bottom.
>> female #3: Oh right. I forgot.
>>Karen: And then, I'm gonna put this in here, and then you just go ahead and fill up. So
it seems like, oh my gosh that's a lot of liquid but that's why it's
so wonderfully custardy and then the chocolate's melted and, it's, we
make this everyday at the store, and everyday I walk by it and I go, hmm, is anybody looking,
and I like grab-- because the best part is like this
real crusty. And then that's it. You just put it in the oven. You bake it
off. You can cool it, and then it will pop right out and turn into this, and then you
can slice it, and sauce it, and serve it. So if I were having you over for
dinner, and I was going to plate the bread pudding, what we do at the
store and what I like to do is to take some vanilla anglaise, which is in the book, and
the chocolate sauce, it's in the book as well, and I just, I'm pretty simple,
I like to just sort of swirl them and marble the plate, and then
take a scoop of the bread pudding that's nice and warm and you can also microwave this if
you want, it really depends what size you want, you get a little bit larger
at Extraordinary Desserts, and then I tend to go in the yard and grab
whatever's growing, edible or not, and then I put that on the side of the plate, and then
if you want, I mean, it depends how fussy you want to get... if you
want to sprinkle the powdered sugar on the side of the plate. This is a
tea strainer, a fork, the sugar and you can do it on anything you like. And then, basically,
you have a finished product that you can serve, and then the same
thing goes likewise for if you're building the mousse in the cup, it's
from the Yvoire, it's a white chocolate mousse that's in a cake in the book. You can build
your white chocolate mousse, put your fresh berries in the center,
and then some more white chocolate mousse and then I finished it off
with some raspberry gelee, which could be the raspberry sauce in the book with a little
gelatin in it. And then if you want to put strawberries on it, and raspberries,
or if you just want, you could take, a rose, and my staff gets
crazy, they love the flowers, so we just do whatever however, there's no absolute. It's
just pick colors you like and kind of go for it. And then I use that same
gel that I used on the top, and I just paint the strawberry so it looks
like it's more luscious, and then you can put that on there, and if you're really going
for it, and it's Valentine's Day, and so you break out the edible twenty
three and three quarter gold leaf,
[audience laughs]
and then you end up with a cup like that. So it's pretty easy, you can use the gold
on your plate, "Good morning honey, here's your croissant and your jam"
and put the gold on the croissant.
[audience laughs]
I mean you know, so the book is meant to give you lots of artistic freedom, and just give
you color options and ways to think about presenting things that make
people really want to eat it. So, what else can I answer before we're
going to eat?
[audience laughs]
>>female #4: Hi, thank you for coming today. I have two questions. One is that I see you
have graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and you travel
back to Paris frequently, where would you recommend for a great
croissant or desserts in Paris?
>>Karen: Let's see. The one that I was at that was my favorite this last time , I went
and I bought four pieces of cake and I ate all four of them.
[audience laughs]
In the same few hours. It's called, Le Reve de Patisserie. And you can always email me,
but that was like my very favorite and then of course I went to
a few more and bought a few pieces and ate those you know because I'm
dissecting, but that one was really wonderful.
>>female #4: Awesome. I'll be there really soon so--
>>Karen: Great.
>>female #4: The second question is, do you use ultra pasteurized milk and cream and if
you do, do you find a difference in the taste, in your desserts?
>>Karen: Well, I'm not sure if it's ultra pasteurized. It's organic milk that we use.
We use all organic milk, and for the heavy whipping cream, it is ultra
pasteurized. I don't know that it has a better flavor, I know that the
cream that we use has a higher fat content, so that means it might have more flavor. I
do like to use organic products whenever I can. It was absolutely
not affordable to have the cream organic, we did the math on it, and it
became thirty five hundred dollars extra a month to make that switch. And so, if I had
to pass that on to my clients, I'd have to probably be shutting my doors.
So you know, you just do what you can with organics, but flavor wise, I
think we're pretty happy with the product that we use, and it is ultra pasteurized.
>>female #4: Thank you.
>>Unknown speaker2: I have another question. How do you roll the chocolate like that?
>>Karen: Well this we take a tray like, this kind of a tray and we stick it in the oven
just to heat it just a little bit till it's just kind of warm to
touch, and then we have our liquid chocolate and then we sort of put it
over the top here and once it just starts to cool, we can put it in the refrigerator,
we pull it out and we wait for it to get a little bit like tacky, and then
you use like a paint scraper. And, I think that's in the book. It is in
the book. Yeah, I'm like, I can't remember, what.
Anybody else?
All right.
So I think I am having a helper come and help me plate, right? So, what I'll do too is I
can start cutting some of the cakes, 'cause I think we can do that
>>female #4: Can we tell us what everything is?
>>Karen: Oh that's a good point. [claps hands together] So the cake over here on the far
right is a Linzer, and it's in the book and it's actually is in the holiday
section. The book is split between seasons,every quarter, summer,
winter, that sort of thing. This is in winter. It's white chocolate buttercream with hazelnut
almond cakes with fresh raspberries and then a homemade raspberry
jam. So it has sort of an Austrian play on it with all the nuts in
it. It's a wonderful wedding cake because as it sits out at room temperature, the nuts
and the white chocolate sort of warm up, so it's a great cake to drive
from San Diego to L.A. It has no problem making that trip.
[audience laughs]
And then next to it are some of these white chocolate mousses, with the raspberries on
it. And then we have the bread pudding, and this is probably the most popular
cake at the store, it's called the Viking, and it has a chocolate crème
brulee in the bottom of it, and then a milk chocolate whipped cream, and chocolate pralines
in it, and chocolate cake. It's called the Viking because it's
pretty intense, it's hearty, and again this is another one that's really
easy to take from San Diego to L.A. and not have any problem. I travel everywhere around
the world with a cake, I mean, that's just what, if I'm going somewhere,
people , that's just sort of my calling card. So I tend to make
things that can make long drives, and the ones that are the whipped creams and the fruits
and the berries, you can still drive that from San Diego up to this
area because it's only out for two hours, as long as it's not Santa Anna
and a hundred degrees out and you're stuck in traffic for four hours. So even though
they're cakes, they're not that fragile. You know? You shouldn't be scared
of them, in terms of--
>>female #5: What is that in?
>>Karen: What is what in?
>>female #5: The cake when you are traveling.
>>Karen: Oh, in a box.
>>Unknown speaker: Just in a box?
>>Karen: Each of these cakes is on a cardboard bottom, and then it is usually on a doily,
cardboard round and then it just goes in a cardboard box. So it's pretty
easy. I once went to Sydney for New Year's, and the plane stopped in
Honolulu, I got out, checked into a hotel for half a day, put the cake into the refrigerator,
went for a run, came back, got the cake, boarded the plane for
Sydney and showed up for the New Year's party, and it was the Linzer, and it
was perfect.
[audience laughs]
I got the flowers in Honolulu, I remember that. So you can. Yeah, they travel.
>>female #5: You have to do it as carry on?
>>Karen: They don't ship, but they do travel, yeah. So unless there's any other questions,
I'll start cutting and--
>>Unknown male speaker 2:Just one question, I am curious , you said you went to school
and how did you decide cakes was the thing you wanted to do?
>>Karen: Well, I think 'cause when I was in college I was so entrenched in science, that
this other side started to happen, and I think from being-- my mom
was a great entertainer, so I think that early on in life, and my
grandmothers were as well, and I've always been a vegetarian so learning to be a chef
with meat stocks and things like that did not interest me. And this just
seemed like a painter's palette. You know, all the color and after
having lived in Honolulu and then I lived in Mexico, and as well in Paris. I mean those
are really very colorful, bountiful places, smells and you know, so.
>>Unknown male speaker 2: Now do you find that a lot of inspiration for your designs
that you make from places you visit or where do you find a lot of inspiration?
>>Karen: It's not good for me to be landlocked, you know I do have to get out quite a bit.
I can find inspiration pretty much anywhere I go, even if it's just
a Sunday at home with some magazines, but I really find the most
inspiration in Asia. In Asian countries, I mean I love Bali, just the use of the different
freshly grown clove and you know the coffee beans there, and the flowers
and the essences and teas, that's a great place, but really anywhere
where I get away from my regular day to day job and people being able to call me with
the random break downs of a restaurant. Because I have a hundred ten employees,
and I'm a sole proprietor so it's kind of a heavy burden on the
back some days, so if I can just get away, even just-- it took me four planes to get
back to San Diego from Paris this last trip, because it was just a real mess,
and I was fine, because I'm like reading my books, some new recipes, I
brought all these French books back and I'm like five hours in Madrid, not a problem,
you know, oh and overnight in in New York, okay, so just being by myself
and quiet, is inspirational. So.
>>Unknown male speaker 3: So the lemon ricotta cake is by far my favorite, I like all the
citrus flavors in it. Where did you start or what were your interests
when you started and how have they progressed over time?
>>Karen: Well, in terms of flavors?
>>Unknown male speaker 3: Yeah.
>>Karen: The lemon ricotta is one of the older, there's a family of ricottas, there's the
lemon ricotta, the passion fruit ricotta, and the blood orange
ricotta, and most of my cakes come from family members or friends having
a birthday and I don't feel like bringing the same stock cake, so I kinda have to come
up with something. So a lot of the same cakes are used, but a lot of other
different flavor conceptions are put together with them. I think when I
started, I probably was a little more straightforward with my flavors because I was living in Mexico,
and it was back before they were able to import a lot
of things, so I got lemon, and I was able to get hazelnuts, so my Linzer
was a little bit different, but the Linzer's been around for about twenty-two years, the
lemon ricotta as well, because it was easy to do there. I think now
I'm a little more, I get a little more out there, but I still think of
my general audience, and I mean , San Diego's very different than Los Angeles, I mean, I
always call us a big village, so I don't want to get too esoteric
because that can scare people away. So, even Matcha tea mousse has been
an interesting concept and yuzu and I'm trying to think, we don't do well with chestnuts,
making things with chestnuts, and pear's not a big thing, so
I have to be careful. And if something doesn't sell, we don't make it
again. We eat it, then we're over it.
>>female #6: So what about icings? When you're trying to decorate with icings, do you use--
>>Karen: We don't work with that at all.
>>female #6: So what is your idea of what is a good icing to decorate with versus [unintelligible]?
>>Karen: Well, for icings we only either use, and they're in the book, buttercream, and
it's a French recipe actually from Cordon Bleu, I have never done anything
different from that. I've used that since 1985. Otherwise, we use
ganache, which is chocolate and cream, and then, we don't really use a lot of icings,
we use icing on our cupcake. Icings are American baking and I'm
just kind of getting used to that a little bit, you know because homemade
desserts are coming back in, so I'm dabbling with it a little, but it's not something that
I'm trained with specifically. Icing in France is usually powdered
sugar, egg white and a little lemon juice and you use that for
making fancy cakes that are fondant, so I don't use that a lot. And in American baking,
we see it on a lot of cupcakes, we see it on a lot of our banana
cakes, carrot cakes, old fashioned kind of things, and I think it's very
safe to say that we're very different, .old fashioned's not our genre.
>>Unknown male speaker 4: Are you ever going to open a store in L.A.
>>Karen: I don't think so. [laughs] That's why I was encouraging you, telling you how
easy it is to take the Linzer too and from, and the Viking and yeah.
All right.
>>female #6: Can we take pictures before you serve:
>>Karen: OH yeah, yeah. Definitely take pictures.
[Audience applauds loudly]
Thank you!!