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Asheville Trip To Foodtopia – Part II

Chocolate Torte, Caramel Ice Cream and Chocolate Sorbet

Day two of our trip in Asheville had us move around a bit less but was just as intense, keeping us on our toes until bedtime. Or was it until we all rolled, stumbled, fell, crashed on our beds?! Ha! Yes, we can blame it on all the tasty wines, succulent dishes, intense Iron Chef competition, culminating with an outstanding dinner at Horizons in The Grove Park Inn.

The 4 Diamond restaurant gathered us around one of the best meals I have had in my life, ending in the most perfect sweet note: a chocolate and caramel tasting executed by Pastry Chef Laura Bogard. Before I could even ask our hosts if Laura would be kind enough to share a couple of the recipes, I was graciously handed a print out of all the components of our plate. Once back home in SC, I decided to put my own spin on it and make this Chocolate Torte topped with Caramel Ice Cream and Chocolate Sorbet, inspired by that evening. But let’s talk about the day first…

We started with a visit to Sunburst Trout Farm outside of Asheville. I was really looking forward to it for the simple reasons that I used to go trout fishing all the time as a kid and I fully support trout farming when done with sound ecological practices. I was thrilled to meet Sally, her family and her staff after I had read more about them and their operation. They confirmed every thought I had already formed in my head: happy trout, careful workers, quality products.

Sunburst Trout Farm

Before meddling with the trout we were treated to a scrumptious breakfast smorgasbord of trout dishes, carefully prepared by their research and development chef, Charles Hudson. Trout dip, trout omelette, trout gravy and biscuits, hot smoked, cold smoked…you name it, we probably had it. All accompanied by fresh and pickled vegetables from the chef’s garden. A feast. We had to draw the line and think about the next round of food aventures and skip lunch.

Food bloggers skipping lunch? Ah yes. We had to keep ourselves sharp and moveable for what was awaiting us next. A full blown, very serious and incredibly fun CSA Mystery Box Iron Chef Competition held at AB-Tech Culinary Arts Center. If I were a student looking for a culinary college, I would, hands down, apply there first. Everything there is made to teach and practice without being stale or stuffy. Me? I was trying to contain that beaming smile of being back on the familiar grounds of a professional kitchen.

I wish I could have combined my two loves of cooking and photographing but I was about to get my hands chopping and my apron dirty. Diane of White On Rice Couple was our full-on photography journalist that day so I will be sure to update you when they post about it. We all had such a blast that I can’t wait to see it in pictures!

Each blogger was paired with a local chef to create two courses using the content of CSA boxes provided by The Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project, as well as the trout we had filleted that morning and extra ingredients provided by Blue Ridge Food Ventures (love that project – please take the time to click) and our own chefs.

Team France: Chef Michel Baudouin - Tartelette

Right photo courtesy of Diane at White On Rice Couple.
Meet Team France! Yes. Could there have been a better pairing than this? I think not! Indeed, I was teaming up with Chef Michel Baudoin, owner and chef of Bouchon . I have to say that the first thing I told Dodie was "Oh sh!t (!) you know that two French chefs competing together is more explosive than them competing against each other, right?!" She mentioned Michel had a similar reaction, eheh. Ah yes, that’s us French peeps. Bill says we take out our swords first and talk later. Very right. But in this case, very wrong.

We had a blast! Talking and yapping away in French. Chopping and dicing while coming up with our competition dishes. We were supposed to make only two dishes, but I guess you will not be surprised to hear that we made three. See! It’s not only me during Daring Bakers challenges! It’s genetic!! We started off with a fennel and zucchini tart, topped off with chorizo crumbles. Our main course was a Sunburst trout fillet stuffed with local goat cheese, baby turnip filled with purple potato puree. (picture here)

Michel is so low key and humble, I just had the greatest time cooking with him and talking about our experiences with food, cultures, restaurants, etc…I previously had dinner at Bouchon a few years ago and I am looking forward to returning to Asheville just for that!

Dessert was my grandmother’s vanilla apple compote served with pecan shortbread cookies. My biggest fear was this item. Seriously. Baking without measuring or weighing, mixing everything while eye balling and feeling the dough. I think I had a couple of shots of moonshine brought over by Todd’s chef while the cookies were baking! Turns out that everyone raved about that simple, homey dessert and it even earned us an extra five points. We still lost by 1/2 point though while Alison and Chef Annie Pettry took the high honors of the day.

Food Blogger In Action

It was an intense competition but with such great spirited and talented chefs that even if we were feeling it in our gambettes (legs), we still had enough of an adrenaline high to carry on with dinner planned at The Grove Park Inn’s Horizons restaurant, Horizons.

We started off by a round of cocktails (check out Jaden’s post about her tasty Xanadu libation) and appetizers which got their beauty shot courtesy of Todd.

Dinner At Horizons

I did take pictures from that dinner but let’s recap my physical state at this poing: late breakfast + cooking competition + a few nibbles of the finished dishes + moonshine + wine + cocktails + outstanding dishes + wine pairings + sake tasting = one very fuzzy sets of pics. Love that Bill knows me so well that he immediately asked the next day whether I had behaved. I think I did 🙂

Aren’t you lucky I don’t have all the words, the right words to describe how outstanding this dinner was?! I mean just look at that menu and sigh. I am! Thank you Jeff and Kevin for the superb setting and organization, you can be proud of the team you have cooking for your guests. Seriously, and I am not saying that because I never saw the check, this was one of the best meals of my life. Everything so fresh, sourced locally as much as possible, and executed with such perfection by Chef Duane Fernandes and his staff that I finished each- and- everyone- of- my- plates- OMG- I still- can’t- believe- I did this! And the wines…I want to do it all over again but with just the wines! Ok, maybe not…because there is a seriously tempting dessert tray to talk about.

Dinner at Horizons

Chocolate almond torte, chocolate sorbet, chocolate and caramel pudding and caramel ice cream and malt shakes. So happy to see I am not the only one thinking mini milkshakes are cool (see DB challenge)! I admit, while deep with both chocolate and caramel flavors, the pudding is the only item I left on the plate after sampling a few bites (research people, it’s all research). I did wish for a groundhog day type situation in which that chocolate torte, chocolate sorbet and caramel ice cream would just keep on appearing before my eyes and plate. This good. I have not even been really in the mood for chocolate lately but after making this at home, it is all I can see!!

Soft, luscious, powerful, smooth, intense. I took the three elements I loved the most about our dessert sampler that night and combined them in this entremet, starting with the chocolate torte as the base and then topped off with the caramel ice cream and chocolate sorbet. I made six. We had 2. That’s four more for me if I find a way to sneak around Bill. I hope it convinces you to try all three together or separately. It was hard to keep the caramel ice cream around long enough to have any left to fill the cake rings!

Are you still with me for Day 3 and 4 and a couple more exquisite recipes from the chefs of Asheville? Sure hope so!

Have a wonderful 4th of July!

The Making Of: Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Torte, Caramel Ice Cream and Chocolate Sorbet:

For the chocolate torte:
10 oz (300gr) chocolate
8 oz (230gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 eggs
3/4 cup (150gr) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons (15gr) flour
3/4 cup (70gr)finely ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon espresso
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

For the Caramel Ice Cream:
1 1/2 cups (300gr) sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1 quart (1L) half and half
or 2 cups whole milk + 2 cups heavy cream
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate sorbet:

2 1/2 cups (625ml) water, divided
1 cup (200gr) sugar
3/4 cup (65gr) cocoa powder
8 oz (240gr) dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare the chocolate torte:
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the chocolate and butter. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
In a stand mixer (or with hand held beaters), whisk the eggs and sugar on medium speed until slightly thickened. Add the vanilla. Turn the speed to low and add the chocolate mixture and whip for a minute. Still on low speed, add the rest of the ingredients. Beat one minute until everything is incorporated.
Spread the batter on the prepared sheet pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or unti the center is just set.
Let cool completely.

Prepare the caramel ice cream:
In a heavy saucepan, set over high heat, stir together the sugar, honey, and water and cook to a dark amber caramel. Slowly add 2 cups of half and half and return to a boil, stirring to dissolve all the caramel bits. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of half and half and return to a boil.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yokls to break them up and slowly pour the hot caramel mixture over them to temper. Pour the content of the bowl back in the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and salt and stir until dissolved.
Let cool completely, refrigerate until cold.
Process in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Prepare the chocolate sorbet:
In a heavy saucepan set over medium high heat, stir together 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, cocoa, and a pinch of salt. Bring to boil, turn the heat down and simmer for a minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the remainin 1 cup of water, chocolate and vanilla. Let stand for a minute. Whisk the mixture thoroughly to make sure that everything is incorporated and smooth.
Let cool completely. Refrigerate until cold before processing in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

To assemble:
Line six 3-inch round cake rings with acetate or platic cover sheets and place them on a parchment paper line baking sheet. Cut out six 3-inch rounds in the chocolate torte and place them inside the prepared cake rings. Divide the caramel ice cream and chocolate sorbet evenly in between the cake rings. Freeze until solid.

I topped the cakes with fresh berries and tuiles made out leftover frangipane from the last Daring Bakers Challenge.

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LizNoVeggieGirl July 4, 2009 um 9:08 pm

Wow, what a trip! I'm all over that exquisite menu and the caramel ice cream 🙂

Simply Mel {Reverie} July 4, 2009 um 9:14 pm

Jealous and envious do not even come close to describing how I feel right now! OMG, what an amazing tour for the senses! Your descriptive words and photos make me feel as if I were there…except my tastebuds LOUDLY remind me I'm not!

Can't wait for more – ENJOY!

Cannelle Et Vanille July 4, 2009 um 9:30 pm

what a great part two. so much food… love that you had moonshine while competing and i love that photo of you!

tami July 4, 2009 um 9:45 pm


You've captured the feelings and taste overload of our trip to Asheville. As usual, your post is stunning, sweet and delicious 🙂

I had the joy of tasting the recipe that inspired this post and it was incredible. I wish I was there for your reinactment!

Sending you hugs from Atlanta!

– tami

mycookinghut July 4, 2009 um 9:50 pm

It's just too difficult to resist this dessert!!

Engineer Baker July 4, 2009 um 10:01 pm

Wow, another way to quickly make me as jealous as possible! Thank you for showing us some recipes so I have the chance to feel a *little* less jealous 🙂 Love the image of you two Frenchies chattering away 🙂

Cheri July 4, 2009 um 10:20 pm

Oh Helen! This looks marvelous! I am drooling. I am thoroughly enjoying reading about your trip to Asheville. Excited for parts 3 and 4!

Irene July 4, 2009 um 10:24 pm

How wonderful! It sounds like an awesome blast of a weekend!

♥peachkins♥ July 5, 2009 um 12:43 am

*drool* *drool*

Baked Alasla July 5, 2009 um 1:02 am


Poorni Pillai July 5, 2009 um 2:18 am

Nothing like a healthy competition to spice up a trip- I just love food battles,…all that lovely food and wine, wow! Sounds so fun!

Anonymous July 5, 2009 um 2:32 am

Enjoy your trip – it sounds fantastic!

On another note, thanks for your macaron advice via twitter earlier this week. You helped immensely.

MyKitchenInHalfCups July 5, 2009 um 3:19 am

Almost … you almost get me there but … there's nothing in my mouth … there's no caramel ice cream in my mouth …
MORE bring it on … there's nothing in my mouth … but tooth paste …
What days, that is glorious Helen.

Char July 5, 2009 um 3:25 am

I'm stuffed and still got hungry reading this

Alexandra July 5, 2009 um 6:15 am

Count me in! Your manner of writing with filled passion and really brings to life your experience and adventure.

Unknown July 5, 2009 um 7:34 am

that whole day sounds an amazing experience….can't wait to hear the rest….oh, and your dessert looks just yummmmmm!

Wendy July 5, 2009 um 8:25 am

That looks delicious! I really love the photos of your ice creams, how do you get such nice shots without the icecream melting and changing shape?
I'm looking forward to the posts on the next parts of the trip!

Manggy July 5, 2009 um 11:52 am

Of course I am there! I love that you were team France– I can only imagine the efficiency, plus there's the benefit of, uh, speaking in code or something. (I dunno! Maybe you wanted to launch a sneak attack on the others?!)

I would love to do this fabulous (er) ice cream cake (? lol, how elegant), unfortunately it'll take a long while as I need to prefreeze my container for 48 hours in this climate!

Hilda July 5, 2009 um 1:08 pm

Superbe! Too bad I'm still a couple of hours away by plane right now otherwise I'd take the papoose and be at your doorstep in a flash for one of those extra desserts. Such a lovely and vivacious write-up and I love the picture of you in action! More Pictures of you! More Pictures of you! Please… =)

sarah July 5, 2009 um 2:09 pm

Whew – I'm going to workout this morning on your behalf! Looking forward to parts 3 and 4…

Helene July 5, 2009 um 2:48 pm

Wendy: to get pictures before the ice cream completely melts, I set up plates and use whatever is on hand to create a mock-up of the set up. I adjust the camera settings accordingly so all I have to do is press the shutter button when I set up the real ice cream. The first picture here was done on the first shot but I usually have enough time to take up to 5 before things start getting difficult.
It is difficult no matter what but I have to shoot scoops, I will preform a few and keep them in the freezer for back ups.
Oh yeah, and I run around like a crazy one!!

lauresophie July 5, 2009 um 3:20 pm

whaou waht a trip! nice experince!

Kitchen M July 5, 2009 um 7:32 pm

Great job on the competition! Were there any prizes? (I guess having that wonderful dinner and cooking with local famous chefs are good enough for the prize.)
Looking forward to reading more and I hope you had a fun 4th. 😉

Lori July 6, 2009 um 12:02 am

Sounds like you had a really great ime. What a neat experience.

This beautiful dessert is so tempting. Instead of cooking a book ,ike everyone does, someday I am going to bake your blog, make every single thing on here. UII know it will never be as beautiful but I sure would learn a lot!

Cynthia July 6, 2009 um 4:17 am

You bet! I'll be back for days 3 and 4!

Jen Yu July 6, 2009 um 5:07 am

Great recap. I would pay real money to have heard Todd's quote about fresh produce 🙂 I also would have loved to see your photos progress throughout the evening (blurrier and blurrier? hee hee). Top honors should have gone to the chefs who could hold their liquor the best (perhaps you??!) 🙂

Y July 6, 2009 um 6:58 am

Oh fantastic! And lucky you! What a trip. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the rest of it.

zee July 6, 2009 um 12:22 pm

Wow, what a wonderful trip !! Thanks for sharing your experience with us Helen. And also for the tips on how to shoot ice cream pictures..
I'll keep checking in for days 3 and 4 ! 🙂

flory July 6, 2009 um 1:10 pm

these posts of yours intensify my lust for ice cream machine. seriously.

Dodie July 6, 2009 um 1:19 pm

Wow, I cannot believe we did all that in one day!! Next time, I will try to build in more digestion breaks. Apparently, my culinary adventure planning is much like my shopping philosophy…buy it all now and pay later! I just can't say 'no' to more fun with food.

Mallory Elise July 6, 2009 um 1:32 pm

baaahhhhh such a fun post! hehe. you kick ass.

is that a caipirinha? (the drink) looks like it….mmmm and pink sake?! you lucky lucky lady!

Foodtopia July 6, 2009 um 3:10 pm

The photography, Helen! How do you do it? You make every inch of Asheville look so magical. We're so glad you came, ate, and (most of all) captured such beautiful pictures.

The Cooking Photographer July 6, 2009 um 3:17 pm

For me, a trip like that would be a dream come true! I can imagine how amazing it was for you.


Cakespy July 6, 2009 um 3:28 pm

Dudette, I am so jealous of this awesome culinary adventure! Sounds like so much fun. And so much yum.

Nutmeg Nanny July 6, 2009 um 4:26 pm

What a trip! Everything looks fantastic!!!

La Tartine Gourmande July 6, 2009 um 7:44 pm

La belle au travail 😉 Le premier dessert est super beau.

Fifi Flowers July 6, 2009 um 9:31 pm

You are killing me with that chocolat and caramel… delish!

Vanille July 6, 2009 um 11:06 pm

Oui, bien sûr que l'on attend de lire la suite des jours 3 et 4 !
Tu nous racontes toujours ça si bien et accompagné de bien jolis desserts, comment résister ?

rhid July 6, 2009 um 11:46 pm

It looks like you had a n amazing time – and had amazing results – I'm gonna try the caramel icecream. Thank you for the recipe!

Erin July 7, 2009 um 3:37 am

What a fun trip! This dessert looks incredible!

Anonymous July 7, 2009 um 4:50 am

What a wonderful experience!
I want to do a cooking competition and be in your team next time. Oh that would be so much fun! 🙂

ah la la.. quel talent cette tartelette!

Simones Kitchen July 7, 2009 um 6:59 am

Amazing food, amazing people and amazing good fun it looks…

square kitchen July 7, 2009 um 9:29 am

Just want to say that theres a link of your blog on my blog, 'cause I gave you an award. would like if you drop in… greetings

Unknown July 8, 2009 um 1:19 am

I'm glad to visit a great blog. Smart posts and beautiful photos. I like to contact people, all over the world, by his blogs.Would you follow me,because I'm afraid to lost your blog?I'm waiting your visit. Thank's

figtree July 8, 2009 um 2:51 am

Can I jump in your suitcase in the future??????????????? Figtreeapps

Kristen July 8, 2009 um 9:00 pm

Can you say food lovers/bloggers dream? What an amazing trip – and I love that smile on your face, not to mention the yummy recipe!

foodcreate July 9, 2009 um 12:36 pm

Lovely post! I love your blog and the photos~ Tasty recipes~

Thanks for sharing your adventures:)

Have A Wonderful Thrusday ~

Kahalaomapuana August 12, 2011 um 9:51 am

I love your pictures! They make me want to cook everything you put up. 😀 I made the chocolate sorbet since the recipe that came with my ice cream maker was more like chocolate water than sorbet (bleurgh!) and yours a million times better! The only problem I had with it, and that I keep having with any frozen dessert requiring cocoa, is a chalky texture. Is there any way to get rid of that?

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