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How Oriole Makes Its Amazing Chai Brulée

Earlier this year, Chicago awarded its highest rating to the West Loop newcomer Oriole (661 W. Walnut St., 312-877-5339) on the strength of its brilliantly conceived dishes. Here, pastry chef and partner Genie Kwon explains one of them: an uber-elaborate dessert she’s dubbed
Chai Brulée.

Photo: Jason Little

A Crème fraîche

The cream is whipped with ground ginger just until it holds a soft peak

B Ginger Pastilles

“Pastille” means “lozenge,” and in the pastry world, it describes a pill-shaped candy. I make these square ones in-house from a gel using fresh ginger juice, so they have a spicier quality than if I’d used ground ginger.

C Brûléed Chai-spice Ice Cream

I make chai custard with a blend of spices and freeze it with liquid nitrogen.

D Coffee Crumble

We use a proprietary blend of Sparrow coffee with Ethiopian and Costa Rican beans, and combine it with almond flour and Demerara sugar to create a crunchy element.

E Roasted and Dehydrated Pineapple

Pineapple’s acidity balances out the sweet elements; dehydrated portions add texture.

F Butternut Squash

One of my favorite Korean barbecue appetizers is caramelized sweet potato. I manipulate the squash in a similar way, roasting it, then glazing it with brown butter, mirin [Japanese rice wine], and soy.

G Nasturtium leaves

They have a distinct flavor: peppery, vegetal, bitter but sweet. I like to use them on desserts that use a lot of spices. They are also very beautiful. They’re topped with the same glaze as the squash.

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