Perfectly fried, puffy dough, drizzled with sugarcane syrup and vanilla anglaise, a touch of lemon zest brightens the dish. As you cut into the beignet you discover a hidden surprise…a briny oyster. For some, the idea of an oyster for a sweet dessert may be too off putting, but those unlucky individuals wouldn’t get the reward of tasting not only a unique (we’ll be honest – slightly wacky) dessert, but also an actually delicious dessert.
There wasn’t a bite left on anyone’s plate this April when we embarked on the first of a series of oyster dinners. Chef Eric Cook from Bourbon House came up with the idea back in December when a guest told him that she was on a mission to have an oyster in every dish she ate in New Orleans. She was making up for a missed trip to New Orleans due to a breast cancer diagnosis. This trip was not only long overdue, but was a celebration of her remission status. Chef Eric asked her if she’d ever had an oyster dessert. She scoffed at him, but said she’d be willing to try anything once. He hurried back to the kitchen and concocted an Oyster Beignet. He made a light dough, reminiscent of tempura batter, added some sparkling wine and lemon and dropped an oyster in it. Once fried, he dusted it with powdered sugar and finished it off with a combination of vanilla creme anglaise and a reduced sugarcane syrup.
Although confident that anything doused in powdered sugar should be good, he cautiously carried it out to the dining room. His judge was sitting there, anxiously awaiting her dessert. With a bit of trepidation, she took her first bite….AND she loved it!
The thirty guests at the Oyster Dinner agreed. It’s no longer a well kept secret that sweet and salty live harmoniously together, so with that reasoning it makes sense that this dish could work. The briny, saltiness of the oyster complements the sweetness of the sugarcane syrup and vanilla anglaise. The lemon provides balance and the sparkling wine a little bit of an effervescence quality.
Chef Cook is still playing with the idea of putting it on Bourbon House’s dessert menu. Would you try an oyster dessert? If so, let us know in the comments.