In the dessert world , a quenelle is an elegant, football-shaped (can those 2 adjectives even go together?!) scoop of, well anything–ice cream, sorbet, whipped cream, crème fraiche, mousse.
You name it, and as long as whatever you want to quenelle is about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, you can form it into that iconic shape.
What’s wrong with round scoops? Well, oval scoops are just more elegant. A “scoop” of ice cream is great and works fine for an ice cream shop, but a quenelle is a more refined shape and more suitable for the fine dining setting, either in a swanky restaurant or at home for a swanky dinner party.
Can I Just Buy Tools To Make It Easier To Make a Quenelle?
Yes. Yes you can. Here are my recommendations for products that you will find helpful. (Affiliate links)
As Chef Haas says above, you want to get spoons that have nice rounded bowls like this one. If you’re serious about plating, you might want to pick up a plating set like this Mercer Culinary 8-piece plating set.
If you’re not a culinary professional and want to get a nice oval scoop of ice cream or whipped cream with a minimum of fuss or practice, give an oval scoop a try. And while this silicone mold is really designed for soap-making, it is food safe, so you could always pour softened ice cream (or no-churn ice cream mix) into these molds, freeze, and then unmold to serve.
If You Want To Make a Quenelle “By Hand”
Traditionally, quenelles have been made using two spoons, so you end up with a kind of three-sided oval scoop. This looks okay, but the one spoon method, technically called a “rocher,” is really lovely. You must learn to make them. It takes a bit of practice, so practice with something tasty! Here’s how to do it, courtesy of Thomas Keller from his iconic The French Laundry Cookbook.
“To make a one-spoon quenelle, you need a cup of very hot water, a spoon (whose bowl will determine the size of the quenelle), and whatever you’re ‘quenelling.’ Dip the spoon in the water so it’s hot. Hold the spoon with the rounded bottom up, place the far edge of the spoon into the mixture, with the near edge close to the surface but not touching, and drag the spoon toward you. The mixture you’re scraping should curl with the shape of the spoon. As you drag, twist your wrist up until the quenelle folds over itself into an egg shape. For the best shape, drag only once through the mixture; dip and clean your spoon for each new quenelle. It takes some practice.” p. 274
To which I add, make sure the spoon is hot and wet. Don’t dip it in the hot water and then dry it off. The water will act as a lubricant and will help your spoon slide through smoothly.
For you visual folks out there, here’s a short little video featuring the pastry chef Lauren V. Haas. She forms hers a bit differently than Thomas Keller but achieve just as elegant a finished quenelle.
Here is another helpful how-to video from the folks at ChefSteps.
And there you have it. I hope you’ve found this post helpful. Thanks for stopping in, and have a lovely day.