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Monday, October 22, 2012

Diorama Gourmand

from the Chez Maxim's cookbook

WHO says fashion people don't eat? This recipe for Diorama gourmand comes from the Chez Maxim's cookbook and was contributed by the late Christian Dior.

lining a "deep mold" with vanilla ice cream
ON  short notice, David was in town over the weekend and I wanted to welcome him home with a special dinner. I decided on "an evening at Maxim's" and selected pommes Maxim's and Diorama gourmand (the latter being my first attempt.)

The recipe for this rather fancy dessert seemed simple enough. Its main ingredients list: vanilla ice cream, bittersweet chocolate, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. I could manage that. First: I began the process for making (homemade) "Sorbet à l'Orange."

I used a bar of 85% extra dark Godiva chocolate
for the bittersweet chocolate leaves

Making the orange sherbet was very easy (and inexpensive). Simply: dissolve 1½ cups sugar in 1½ cups water; add one pint orange juice and the juice of one lemon; freeze. Next, I lined a "deep mold" with one pint of vanilla ice cream. I chose a spherical mixing bowl for easy extraction.

my freezer often only holds the barest of basics (and necessities)!

Lining the Diorama mold was a multiple-step process, each time smoothing and thinning the layer of vanilla while bringing it closer to the edge of the bowl. But in the end my patience paid off and the level of sherbet met perfectly with the edge of the ice cream.


Now had I been David been a bit more patient, I would have been able to deliver a more flawless presentation. (the firming time for the sherbet was much longer than the recipe had indicated) But once David had learned I was making Diorama gourmand for dessert, and after I had suggested we have it the following day... We have to have it tonight! (toward the end I sped up the firming process by adjusting the freezer temperature to its lowest possible setting)

a slice of Diorama gourmand with its (nearly-set) sherbet center...
required moving 
fast from freezer to plate!

The Diorama gourmand really was... quite good! Though next time I should turn out the form onto a circle of waxed paper; then I'll be able to transfer the finished product onto a proper serving dish (and make it my signature dessert). And having done it once already, perhaps I can get more creative with the bittersweet chocolate leaves and powdered sugar on my next attempt!

Diorama Gourmand (Gourmet's Iced Diorama)

1 pint vanilla ice cream
Leaves of bittersweet chocolate
Powdered sugar 
Sorbet à l'Orange:
2 cups orange juice
1 lemon
1 ½ cups granulated sugar

  • Make an orange sherbet by mixing the orange juice, the juice of 1 lemon, and a sugar syrup (made by dissolving the granulated sugar in 1 ½ cups water) together. Chill in the freezer until firm.
  • Line a deep mold with vanilla ice cream. Fill the center with orange sherbet and return to the freezer for at least half an hour.
  • Just before serving, unmold onto a paper doily. Decorate with leaves of bittersweet chocolate. For added effect, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Every Tuesday a regular customer of Maxim's is invited to treat his friends to an original recipe of his own choosing. When we hear of a friend who prefers his grandmother's recipe book to the deceased's estate in Solonge, we like to think he has a Maxim's Tuesday in mind. Needless to say, this tradition of ours has much enriched our gastronomic archives. As the name implies, this recipe was contributed by the late Christian Dior.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Chilling: 2 hours 30 minutes

Adapted from the cookbook, Chez Maxim's: Secrets and Recipes from the World's Most Famous Restaurant, available at Amazon.com.
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