Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Restaurant Inspiration - Marque and salted chocolate caramels

We had an interesting dinner at Marque in Sydney in January.  I have had a number of meals there over the years, in various states: once when pregnant, once for our 10 year wedding anniversary and on other miscellaneous ocassions.

I have always loved chef Mark Best's food.   I have always disliked the verging on obsequious service.  And sometimes I wonder if perhaps the flavours are almost too refined.  For example - see below from the menu we ate in January 2010 - earl gray ash which came with the wagyu - maybe my palate is wrecked but the grey sprinkle which came with the beef was imperceptible, to me, at least.    

So you have a restaurant with wonderful and interesting local Sydney ingredients (scampi, white asparagus, crab, enoki), clever cooking techniques and combinations (fish floss, almond gazpacho, scampi anglaise) but to me, often the food is just too subtle.  Maybe my tastes now require something more robust, less elegant? Less Armani, more Vivienne Westwood. 

Having said that, the degustation is reasonable value and very thorough.   Each dish is jewellike and just the right size.    You leave feeling satiated and not overfed.  And you will always eat something you have never had before.  

Marque on Urbanspoon

At the end come salted caramel chocolates and bitter campari jellies:


I am not the only one who loves the combination of sweet and salty.   So do the Thais, with their fish sauce and palm sugar flavourings.  And so of course do many in the US (eg salted peanut butter cookies).  

I thought I might try these caramels myself.  There are a few recipes around for this type of caramel, mostly on US websites.  I used the one from Smitten Kitchen which is here.    This is much more like a fudge than a stand alone chocolate confection, but still has the critical combination of salt and caramel.

I am not really a candy cook.   This is a scary recipe because it required the use of a candy thermometer in boiling sugary water.  I always end up with burns when I do something like this.  Only little burns of course but I am always impatient to taste the toffee!  The one tip I read which seemed important was to use a very heavy bottomed dish so that the heat woudl spread evenly and slowly.  So I pulled a Le Creuset out of the cupboard.

There is a picture gap after this step (just imagine cooking the sugar and water intil it is a deep golden brown, adding the chocolate cream mixture and cooking for 15 minutes until 255 degrees).   I was too panicked to take photos.

Here is the caramel fudge in its tin.  

Sprinkled with Maldon salt. 

And ready for eating. 

Any downsides?  Just a little one.    I didn't cook the fudge for long enough and it never really set at room temperature.  It set in the fridge and then became runny quite quickly.  It didn't stop us eating them all but next time I will have to get that temperature just right.

(Image (2) from Eating WA)


brismod said...

I'm afraid of sweets/candy making too. Your caramel fudge looks damn good though.

Lee said...

Jane, your food posts always have me salivating, and this one is no exception! These caramels look absolutely delicious.

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Good on you for giving it a go. I'm not sure I'm brave enough. Looks really good - and yes I quite like that salty chocolate combination too!

Ann said...

I love that salty sweet chocolate taste... pops in the mouth. Have just spent some time in lovely Melbourne - you don't need to eat out in Sydney or cook at home! Can we life swap for a week or two??? Having Melbourne withdrawal... Ann x

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

It all just looks delicious, Jane....the restaurant and your sweetmeat. It wouldn't bother me that it was slightly soft....I actually like it that way. I have noticed that the salty/caramel combination is very 'in' over here at the moment. XXXX

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Hi Jane - runny or not, you had me at salt & caramel. The local Sydney faire sounds so fabulous. I am a huge seafood fan and the Marque's menu is outstanding. Sure beats our usual Texas burger. So glad to get your comment today. Hope you and your family are all doing really well?


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