Pastry: big hunt for difficult ingredients – Italian Cuisine


Have you found the recipe for that cake you were looking for so much, or there is a dessert that inspires you a lot: scroll down the list of necessary ingredients and here is the intruder, the one you don't have at home and you don't know where to get … what to do?


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For years, the great masters of pastry, both Italian and non-Italian, have been publishing books where they share professional secrets and their recipes. Although designed for the general public, very often these recipes require one careful hand and special ingredients. Have you ever spent a good portion of the day trying to to find any of these ingredients? Maybe you spent an hour or two looking for them because you had no idea what they were or where to find them, only to discover that the ingredients in question were something unique, to be ordered and then resigned to waiting a week before finally being able to deal with them. that particular recipe.

Unlike the savory cuisine, where most of the time there are acceptable substitutes (who among us has not made carbonara with pancetta if the bacon was not available?) or often you can simply omit themissing element and closing it there, in the pastry shop each ingredient has its own specific place, it is a voice of the choir that – if it were missing – would make the difference. A lot.

Many pastry enthusiasts dedicate themselves to creating something truly special: those who are serious about preparing desserts know that there are ingredients – apart from the classic pantry ones we all know, the "essentials" such as milk, flour, sugar, yeast, etc. – more obscure, which, however, it would be good to have on hand, so as to be able to face any recipe.
Here you are, whether you are an experienced pastry chef or an enthusiastic apprentice, a list of 10 uncommon ingredients but present in many recipes "advanced", With their characteristics and a suggestion to find them:

Chocolate coating
Things: chocolate (dark, milk, white) with a higher percentage of butter (and therefore fat) which melts more easily. It stands out for its lucidity, and is widely used by professional pastry chefs for processes such as glazing, for pralines, for cake toppings and for ganache because it gives the finished product a smooth, uniform and creamy appearance and an authentic and unmistakable flavor. Cover chocolates come in the form of tablets, tablets or blocks.
Where is it: can be found online.

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Glucose syrup
Things: a solution based on water and corn starch, thick and viscous. It is used in the preparation of mirror glazes to ensure gloss; it is used in mousses, sugar paste, plastic chocolate, nougat, ice cream and homemade candies.
Where is it: there is no supermarket: you can find it online on professional pastry sites.

Cocoa butter
Things: a mixture of fats obtained from cocoa beans (the seeds of the cocoa tree). You can find it in drops to dissolve or in pure powder. It is used in the preparation of fillings for chocolates, in plastic chocolate for decorations, in chocolate to sprinkle on the surfaces of desserts to create velvet-effect glazes, in pandoro, etc.
Where is it: in some pastry shops, in various online shops, in natural and organic products shops, in herbalists, in some pastry shops.

Anhydrous butter
Things: water-free, contains 99% fat and allows processes that are preserved better, that do not oxidize and do not become sour.
Where is it: designed specifically for professional pastry, it is not easily available (unless you know a pastry chef): in home preparations it can be replaced by ghee.

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Invert sugar
Things: it is a mix of glucose and fructose in equal parts; it is naturally present in honey and in the most sugary fruits (especially in grape juice). This type of sugar can caramelize quickly, which results in shorter cooking times; retains water, so sweets are softer and more fragrant. It is of particular use in the production of ice cream because it lowers the freezing point. It is used in biscuits, pastry creams, spreadable chocolate.
Where is it: it is only available online.

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Agar agar
Things: a vegetable gelling substance obtained from about 32 species of red seaweed, colorless, odorless and tasteless. It is used as a vegetable gelling agent in the preparation of jams, jams, puddings, creams and fillings, gummy candies, meringues, ice cream and yogurt, sorbets, jellies for desserts. It comes in three different formats: filaments, flakes (or bars) and powder.
Where is it: in supermarkets, in organic products shops, in some herbalist's shops and in ethnic shops.

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Natural vanilla extract
Things: it is obtained by macerating the vanilla beans in alcohol. It is an essence, usually dark in color like pods, a liquid widely used to flavor sweets such as cakes, donuts, biscuits, pies, creams, ice cream and puddings
Where is it: you can buy it in all specialty shops for sweets, in organic food shops, in the most well-stocked supermarkets.

Things: it is a product derived from beetroot which appears as an odorless white substance with a crystalline structure. It can be melted at 150 ° C and fired at 180-190 ° C, obtaining a transparent appearance. For this reason it is used for glass effect decorations and can be dyed with water-soluble food dyes.
Where is it: you can find it online, in shops specializing in pastry products and can be requested at the pharmacy.

Pasteurized eggs in cartons
What are: whole eggs, but also egg yolks and whites, shelled, homogenized, pasteurized and refrigerated. They are used a lot in pastry and ice cream preparations because they are perfectly hygienic and much easier to dose (in pastry a few grams of difference can change the result).
Where is it: in the refrigerated counter of the most well-stocked supermarkets.

Edible flowers
What are: untreated flowers, belonging to the category of edible flowers (about 50 species). The edible part are the petals: you must therefore remember to carefully remove the pistils and stems. In pastry they are used to round off the flavor of creams, yogurt, ice cream and tarts or to be candied (lilac, violet, carnation, rose, angelica, jasmine, etc.)
Where is it: from some nurserymen, by requesting these specific types of flowers; some supermarkets sell trays with a selection of fresh flowers in the fruit and vegetable section. Edible flowers can also be purchased online, including on Amazon.

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January 2022
Francesca Tagliabue

Posted on 14/01/2022


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