Aaron Davis

This holiday, we’re spotlighting C-CAP Arizona Alumni Chef Aaron Davis, who just graduated with his Bachelors from the Culinary Institute of America this year with his Bachelors in Food Business Administration (concentration in Advanced Baking Principles) and Associate in Baking & Pastry. If you aspire to bake professionally, tackle patisserie, or simply want to try your hand at a luscious Triple Chocolate Pie, check out our interview with Chef Aaron.

When were you first curious about pastry? Do you remember the first sweet thing you made?

I have wanted to be in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. I do not distinctly remember when I decided that I enjoyed pastry more than cooking, however my grandma heavily influenced that preference. Regarding my first endeavors in the kitchen, I can only reference old photos where I was helping my parents in the kitchen, likely making cookies or a boxed cake.

Who was your biggest culinary influence when you were growing up?

My biggest culinary  influence growing up, was my grandma. She owned a bakery while my dad grew up, and though I was born several years after it closed, she continues to bake for our family. It is how she shows she cares and how I do the same. I attribute her to my affinity towards pies, bread, and cinnamon rolls.

What is your dream once you graduate (What kind of food do you hope to create? Where in the country or the world would you like to cook?)

I always find this a hard question to answer, because as I continue to grow and learn, this continues to change. It is particularly hard to say, pending where, how, and when the industry comes out of this pandemic. I know I would like to own my own bakery or establishment in the future; what that will look like is hard to say.  Right now, I primarily decorate cakes and bake bread, however, my interests extend far beyond those two things. I want to create food that tells a story: it tells you about who I am, where I am from, and why I am here still making food.

For anyone who wants to go to culinary school, can you give a nugget of advice to help them prepare? 

Get into a professional kitchen before going to school. This industry is not easy. It is brutal, demanding, and exhausting; however, it is one of the most rewarding things I have done in my short life. Experience is invaluable. Get to know the people, the equipment, the food, and the philosophies. Understand that there are many correct ways to accomplish the same goal. AND!!! Never stop learning. There is always room to grow.

 

Aaron’s Triple Chocolate Holiday Pie Recipe:

Triple Chocolate Pie

Editor’s note: Chef Aaron uses weight measurements for his recipe. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, we recommend you order one and forgo measuring cups. It makes cooking and clean-up that much easier!

 

Day 1: Make Milk Chocolate Whipped Ganache 

Ingredients   

  • Milk Chocolate, 60 grams (g)
  • Cream, 270g
  • Powder Gelatin, 1 teaspoon
  • Cold Water, 24g

Method

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Set aside to bloom.
  2. Bring the cream to a boil.
  3. Pour over the chocolate and emulsify with a hand blender.
  4. Melt the gelatin in the microwave and add to the chocolate mixture. Blend to emulsify.
  5. Allow to refrigerate overnight.

 

Make White Chocolate Whipped Ganache

Ingredients   

  • White Chocolate, 68 grams (g)
  • Heavy Cream, 304g
  • Powder Gelatin, 1 teaspoon
  • Cold Water, 24g

Method

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Set aside to bloom.
  2. Bring the cream to a boil.
  3. Pour over the chocolate and emulsify with a hand blender.
  4. Melt the gelatin in the microwave and add to the chocolate mixture. Blend to emulsify.
  5. Allow to refrigerate overnight.

 

Make Oreo Pie Crust* 

Ingredients:

  • 32 Oreos, ground into crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 7 Tablespoons of melted butter
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the chocolate crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and stir until well mixed. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mixture, then press the rest into a 9-inch pie plate or tarte tin, pressing it evenly over the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

* This crust recipe is abridged from the New York Times

 

Day 2: Make Chocolate Cremeux 

Ingredients   

  • 61% Chocolate (semi-sweet), 114 grams (g)
  • Cream, 10 4g
  • Milk, 104g
  • Egg yolks, 42g (about 2 extra large yolks)
  • Sugar, 20g

Method

  1. Partially melt the chocolate; set aside.
  2. In a pot, bring the milk, cream, and ½ of the sugar to a boil.
  3. Mix the yolks and the remaining ½ of the sugar in a small bowl.
  4. Temper the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks; add the egg mixture back into the pot.
  5. Cook to 180℉ and strain over the chocolate.
  6. Blend with a hand blender to emulsify.
  7. Pour into a premade oreo pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until cooled.

 

Assembly: 

  1. Once the chocolate cremeux has set, whip the milk chocolate ganache until firm peaks.
  2. Spread in an even layer over the chocolate cremeux. Refrigerate for 30 mins.
  3. Whip the white chocolate ganache to firm peaks.
  4. Spread a thin layer over the stop of the milk chocolate ganache.
  5. Use the rest to decorate as desired.
  6. Top with chocolate shavings, cocoa nibs, or cocoa powder.
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