HomeRecipesTropical Baba au Rhum by Sebastien Thieffine

Tropical Baba au Rhum by Sebastien Thieffine

(This recipe appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

Baba has always been a favorite dessert of mine. It remind me of my childhood, although we could not have it, because it had rum in it, so perhaps it was like a forbidden fruit. The textures and earthy flavors here — rum, muscavado sugar, exotic fruits and spices — play well with fall menus, while the tropical fruits brighten the palate and bring our Southwest Florida sensibility to the forefront.

Yield: 16 servings

Baba Syrup

  • 1000 g water
  • 500 g granulated sugar
  • 5 star anise
  • 8 coriander seeds
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • Peel of 1 lemon
  • 275 g dark rum
  1. In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, then add the spices and citrus peel and cool.
  2. Add the rum.


  • 15 g fresh yeast
  • 340 g whole milk
  • 285 g bread flour
  • 500 g whole eggs
  • 560 g cake flour
  • 6 g salt
  • 70 g granulated sugar
  • 425 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Make a poolish with the first 3 ingredients, then add the eggs, cake flour, salt and sugar and mix in a 5-qt stand mixer fitted with the paddle on 1st speed. Increase to 2nd speed once the gluten is developed, and add the butter in small pieces, mixing until it is all incorporated and the dough is smooth.
  2. Proof the dough in a bowl, then fold to deflate the gas, and shape/place it in tart rings. Proof dough again, and just before baking place a Silpat on top the rings, and bake at 360˚F until a tester inserted into the baba comes out clean.
  3. Once the baba are baked, cold-soak them in the syrup for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Muscovado Mascarpone Cream

  • 1000 g heavy cream
  • 500 g mascarpone cheese
  • 100 g muscovado sugar
  1. Mix all ingredients together with a hand blender. Reserve in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Whip to soft peaks before using.

Pineapple Foam

  • 340 g pineapple puree
  • 32 g granulated sugar
  • 7 g Versawhip
  • 3 g xanthan gum

In the bowl of a 5-quart mixer, mix all ingredients together and whip to soft peaks. Place in pastry bag.

Salty White Chocolate Crumble

  • 560 g baked streusel
  • 125 g caramel puffed rice
  • 125 g white chocolate pearls
  • 3 g Maldon sea salt
  • 720 g white chocolate, melted and tempered
  1. Mix all 4 dry ingredients together in a bowl and add tempered white chocolate. Transfer to Silpat and break into small clusters. Allow to crystallize, then store in a box with desiccant.

Pina Colada Gelatin

  • 400 g pineapple puree
  • 600 g coconut puree
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 36 g gelatin sheets, bloomed
  • 50 g dark rum
  1. Bring the purees and sugar to a boil. Add the bloomed gelatin and rum, strain through a fine chinois, and cast into mold. Refrigerate until set.
  2. Cut into even cubes with a guitar cutter.

Caramel Ice Cream

  • 1 kg granulated sugar, divided
  • 150 g unsalted butter, divided
  • 75 g hot water
  • 2585 g whole milk
  • 375 g heavy cream
  • 75 g nonfat milk powder
  • 500 g egg yolks
  • 15 g ice cream stabilizer
  1. Make a dry caramel with the 500 g of the sugar. Stop the cooking with 25 g of the butter and the hot water. Reserve.
  2. In a pot, warm the milk, heavy cream, remaining 125 g butter, 250 g of the remaining sugar and the milk powder. When the mixture reaches 68˚F, whisk in the egg yolks. At 104˚F, whisk in the remaining 250 g sugar mixed with the stabilizer. While stirring, heat to 185˚F, then add the caramel, strain and then rapidly cool to 39˚F.
  3. Let mature overnight and then process in ice cream machine.

Pineapple Chutney

  • 400 g peeled and diced pineapple
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 6 g cornstarch
  • 20 g dark rum
  1. Place the pineapple in a pot with the sugar and scraped vanilla beans. Cook until the pineapple in clear, and then add the mix of cornstarch and rum mix together, and cook again for 2 minutes, until thickened. Reserve in refrigerator.

Pabama Gel

  • 500 g pabama puree
  • 5 g agar agar
  • 40 g granulated sugar
  • 36 g lime juice
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 35 g xanthan gum
  • 1 ½ gelatin sheets (silver), bloomed
  1. In a saucepan, cook the pabama puree, agar agar, sugar, lime juice and scraped vanilla bean to 215˚F.
  2. Add the xanthan gum and then the bloomed gelatin. Cast into a hotel pan, refrigerate, and blend with Vitamix before use.

Dulce de Leche

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  1. Place the can of sweetened condensed milk in water at 198˚F for 3 hours, making sure the can is always covered with water. Allow to cool.
  2. Open can and transfer dulce de leche to squeeze bottle; store in refrigerator.


  • Micro herbs
  1. Drain the soaked baba for service.
  2. Place baba on a plate, pipe the Muscavado Mascarpone Cream with a star tip to cover the top of the baba. Pipe the pineapple foam randomly in plain dollops on top of the cream. Arrange a few piece of the Salty White Chocolate Crumble on top. Squeeze random dots of the Dulce de Leche on top of the baba. Garnish the dessert with micro herbs. Place 5 cubes of the Pina Colada Gelatin on the plate around the baba, then pipe small dots of Dulce de Leche and Pabama Gel on the plate. Serve the Pineapple Chutney and a quenelle of Caramel Ice Cream on the side.
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