The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain is located in Paradise Valley, AZ. Nice address, eh? The resort consistently makes the ranks of the top locations to unwind in worldwide reviews. A lot of that has to do with the unparalleled natural beauty of the location but also because of the spa and all the pampering.
Audrey Enriquez is the resident Pastry Chef and we chatted with her about how she keeps the clients happy with her desserts and baked goods.
Dédé Wilson: Audrey, thank you so much for chatting with me. We just got done with the holidays and there was so much indulgence – and sometimes overindulgence with desserts. You work as a pastry chef at a spa where people are coming to relax and maybe lose weight, or at the very least, get a bit healthier. How did you come to be a pastry chef with a healthy focus?
Audrey Enriquez: I’ve been here for 1 ½ years…I was classically trained at the Cordon Bleu…I went right out of high school and dove into all the old-school pastries: laminated doughs and French pastries and chocolate sculpting and all that…I was trying to figure out my niche…I liked breads and plated desserts, so I went to work at a couple of restaurants in the Valley…eventually I realized that in my personal life I wanted to be healthier. I became a vegetarian and started baking vegan desserts…I would get special requests all the time. Diners would be on restricted diets and I started experimenting. It was a challenge that I enjoyed. What could we have on hand that would satisfy these requests? I started playing around with vegetarian and vegan and gluten-free and really liked it. The challenge of wanting to create something without so many ingredients that I had come to rely on was exciting…like eggs! As a pastry chef we take eggs for granted. They add structure and texture and baking without them is a whole new world.
So, you like challenges?
Yes, I do! The thing so many chefs love about this industry because you never stop learning…we’ve come up some great recipes. We heard that Carrie Underwood was coming and I was so excited. She’s vegan and I wanted to wow her! She cancelled at the last minute but meanwhile we have this amazing Vanilla Avocado Mousse that we will share with you…
Fantastic! Her loss is our gain!
And people buy our granola by the pound – it is that good. (It is used in plating the mousse for added texture).
Tell me about the recipe you shared for Cashew Cream. When do you use this? How do you recommend it be used by home bakers?
I use the cashew cream anytime a recipe might call for whipped cream…it’s really good and actually at this point I prefer it!
How about coconut whipped cream? Do you use it, too?
Not usually because I had problems with consistency…
Us too! Consistency of the actual coconut whipped cream and also consistency in that one time a certain brand would work and the next time it wouldn’t! Very frustrating…
How do you feel with your new diet?
I am awesome! I am so glad I decided to go this way. I did vegan for about a month but then incorporated dairy back in. But then I realized everything I was eating had eggs and dairy in it and I started eating worse and worse…I feel best going strictly vegan.
Talk to me about sweeteners…what do you like to use?
Maple syrup! I do love stevia…there are so many forms…raw, drops etc. but I try to not use a lot of…if something is going to be healthy and vegan I try not to add too much…at least it has fewer calories than most sweeteners. I like coconut nectar too. I found it in Whole Foods and tried it…I adapted a recipe that called for agave and it worked out great…many people don’t like coconut based alternatives because they say they can taste too much coconut, but this works very well. I also like playing with alternative flours…
Do you know about Alice Medrich’s new book Flavor Flours?
No, I don’t…
Oh, you have to get it…you will love it. She takes you on a journey through all sorts of alternative flours – that also just happen to be gluten-free.
Well, I have to get experimenting!
Audrey, Thank you so much for the chat.