David GuasIn September 2007, Pastry Chef David Guas exchanges his longtime corporate role for an entrepreneurial path that includes private consultation, boutique catering, cookbook authoring, and, eventually, his own retail bakery. Damgoodsweet Consulting Group, LLC, the irreverent name he has given his company, is the perfect description for all of his work. In the beginning, however, odds were against the native New Orleanian having a culinary career at all. His family expected him to become a doctor. It was clear to this young man, however, that becoming a chef was his calling and the only path he could ever consider. Fortunately for Guas, his family background actually helped him chase his dream, all the way to the nation’s capital where, for nearly ten years he was the Executive Pastry Chef of Acadiana, Ceiba, DC Coast, and TenPenh restaurants. In the Guas family, all gatherings and entertainment centered around food. From a very early age, during visits from his Cuban relatives, the curious boy seemed always to be playing indoors and not outside with the other kids. In this family, it was not always the women taking charge in the kitchen. Guas’ first mentor, his grandfather, inspired and taught him that being in the kitchen did not make him any less of a man. “Abuelo” (grandfather) opened Guas’ eyes to appreciate the cuisine of his Cuban heritage. “When Abuelo was visiting, my lunch changed drastically and my classmates knew from a single whiff of my lunch bag who had packed it that day.” Guas has fond memories of the pressed Cuban sandwiches with extra pickles and mustard. Whenever Abuelo visited, he prepared a new Cuban dish for his family to taste. “If only I had written down the recipes, I would have my first cookbook already,” Guas laments. There was, in fact, a strong feminine influence as well, right in his own backyard, in the form of his grandmother from Amite, Louisiana. “Granny” could often be found in the kitchen “burning” flour and butter in an iron skillet and promising that it was “goin’ to be good eatin’.” She taught Guas to appreciate the fruits of Louisiana’s soil, cooking with seasonal blackberries, strawberries, and even wild berries from the back woods. “It was so much fun picking berries or visiting nearby fruit and vegetable stands with my cousins first thing in the morning,” remembers Guas. Unlike most native Louisianians, who used large amounts of sugar and butter in everything they cooked, Guas’ Granny stewed and puréed the fruits naturally, often blending them with savory herbs to flavor poultry and meats. Sunday morning breakfast was a ritualistic gathering, with buckwheat or cornbread pancakes and puréed fig preserves or fruit syrup, all natural and no sugar added. (But don’t think for a minute that Guas didn’t sneak any of the butter tucked away in the fridge, which was, after all, an acceptable sneak with Granny – because she had made it!) Unwittingly, the young Guas was learning techniques he would eventually incorporate into his future desserts. The base provided by Guas’ family was strong. Add to that a natural talent and a passion for updating timeless desserts, and you have a recipe for success. Guas doesn’t boast a formal culinary degree, but a few specialized cooking classes at a small culinary school in New Orleans taught him the basic, classical preparations, as well as certain cutting-edge techniques he needed to secure a job in a high-profile kitchen. As an associate pastry chef at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans with Executive Chef Jeff Tunks at the helm, Guas churned out thousands of desserts per week to the delight of locals and national critics alike. Tunks took notice of this talented young assistant and began courting him: Tunks was leaving New Orleans to open his own restaurant in Washington, DC, and he needed a pastry chef. Guas packed up his bags and went off to Washington. DC Coast opened in June 1998 to critical acclaim. TenPenh followed two years later in August 2000, to more of the same, and Guas became Executive Pastry Chef, splitting his time between the two restaurants. In September 2003, he drew deeply from his Cuban heritage to create Latin American- and Caribbean-inspired desserts for Ceiba. And two years after that, in September 2005, with the opening of Acadiana, Guas developed sophisticated interpretations of his hometown dessert favorites from beignets to Bananas Foster. During his years with Passion Food Hospitality, Guas’ desserts were recognized and praised by such publications as Food & Wine, Chocolatier, Santé, Cooking Light, Food Arts, Where Washington, Restaurant Digest, Restaurant Business, National Culinary Review, and Nation’s Restaurant News. In September 2003, Bon Appétit featured Guas as one of eight “Dessert Stars” in the country. In 2004, the fourth year he was nominated, Guas was named Pastry Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. He is listed in The International Who’s Who of Chefs, and has appeared regularly on The Today Show, demonstrating his expertise on national television. Of Guas’ sweets, the restaurant critic of The Washington Post writes, “I have yet to find a single dessert I can say no to,” and the critic of Washingtonian magazine states emphatically that Guas’ desserts are “worth saving room for.” Very sweet, indeed.
Hi, I am David Guas with Damgoodsweet Consulting Group in Washington D.
C. area and we are here to talk about non-baked cheese cake that we are about to do. So as far as ingredients go, the reason it's non-baked cheese cake and never sees an oven is because of gelatin. Here I used gelatin sheets, but you can also use powdered gelatin and the conversion between the two is on the back of the container. But in this case you can buy this from some Specialty Markets, and you have to do, because it's a dry product, is that you have to hydrate in some ice water, which I have already done here. It's called blooming. When you bloom the gelatin, it hydrates itself and becomes soft.
What weve done is, we have our 8 ounces of cream cheese already here on the stove, and essentially I am going to remove that from the boiling water, which is already nice and hot. I am going to just squeeze the water out of the soften gelatin to make sure that it's -- we are not adding water into the actual dessert. So at this point, I go ahead and take a whisk, and Ill just whisk in that soften gelatin, and you can see with that residual heat left over from the double boiler that we have created over the stove, the gelatin has started to dissolve. This particular recipe calls for one-anda-half sheets of the gelatin. Once youve whisked it and the gelatin is completely dissolved, we can allow that to rest for a second while we add our other ingredients, which is our one cup of sour cream to our electric mixer. Its best to keep this in a chilled temperature prior to using it, it allows the cream to react and will whip quicker. Heavy cream drops in temperature, it has a harder time building it's volume. So go ahead and put our whip attachment to our electric mixer, well add our sugar as well. Thats five tablespoons of granulated sugar. What we are going for is something we call soft peaks, or medium peaks, where the cream begins to get a little bit of body, but isnt over whipped creating stiff peaks. In the mean time, just reassuring that we have completely dissolved our gelatin in our base, which is just our cream cheese and our dissolved gelatin is nice and smooth. It only takes about a minute or so to get our soft peaks and it's going to still resemble a thickened sour cream. At this point I am going to go ahead and add my vanilla extract. I use an extract from Mexico, which you can find at some Specialty Markets, because this is our Mexican non-baked cheese cake with our Cajeta. You can use any vanilla extract. Once we have achieved a soft peak, remove this from the machine and well do a fancy thing called folding, and we will fold in this partially whipped, but just about a third of it will go in first. Then we will whisk this together smooth and what's thats doing is we have a cold mixture with a warm mixture and this allows any lumps to get worked out. You dont want to bite in to your non-baked cheese; you can have chunks of cream cheese, or gelatin for that matter. So it's crucial this point to make sure theres no lumps and theres no un-dissolved gelatin. At that point you can add the remaining soft peak with mixture, which again is just our sugar or sour cream and our heavy cream along with our vanilla extract. This is a very easy recipe, it's also very clean, you are not dealing with eggs. What we do is we fold, and folding is just a gentle technique thats done by the wrist and we are taking going in from the center and we are just folding that mixture until it's fully incorporated, cleaning our sides making sure again there is no lumps. At that point we are going to go ahead and portion it; this mixture is essentially ready for portioning. So for small dinner parties what I like to do is, I like to put these into small coffee cups, approximately about four to six ounces of product into a six or eight ounce coffee cups. So at this point you can just portion the mixture directly into the cup, filling it about two thirds of the way. What we do now, is we go ahead and refrigerate this, and you want to allow at least four hours to set up. You can even do this the night before. So your dinner party is Saturday night, you want to do this Friday evening. Desserts should be something that youre not stressed out about, and it's easy and quick and this proves to fit that category. Here we have the finished product, which is a set version of the cheese cake, which has seen about six hour in the refrigerator. At this point we have something called Cajeta, which is a Mexican caramel made from goats milk. What you can do is, there are great products out there in most Latin markets, this particular product is Cajeta and it's jarred. Its easy and it's delicious and it's got a great flavor. What we have done is, just literally portioned about two tablespoons of the Cajeta directly over the set cream cheese mixture. You have to make sure that your cheese cake is fully set, giving it at least six to four to six hours in the refrigeration, after which you can top it with a light layer of the Cajeta. Its very rich and full bodied, so you dont want to have too much of it, like I said before, a couple of tablespoons will be sufficient. At this point it's ready to plate up and I like to serve it with the spoon almost like a coffee set on a saucer and that is our non baked cheese cake with Cajeta, goats milk caramel.