This dessert goes out to my friend from high school, Karen, as a belated birthday gift. She’s obsessed with pandas, and hilariously enough, I have created a ton of panda desserts with her aesthetic guidance. Panda cupcakes, panda cookies, panda bread (two ways, not even just one way), and a panda parfait. And no, no pandas were harmed in the making of these
. You’d be surprised by how dumb internet trolls are, because I purposely take their sarcasm literally so that they look like morons. But I wanted to do something that I have not done before, and that is a panda mousse cake. Or more accurately, mini individual panda mousse cakes, shaped to abstractly resemble pandas. Just go with it. Don’t question me, bitches.
I wanted to combine elements from the panda cupcakes I made in high school with a lot of the techniques I have learned since then. That panda cupcake featured a black sesame Italian meringue buttercream, coconut flakes to resemble the panda’s fur, and mango pate de fruit balls coated in black sesame to resemble the ears. For this mousse cake, I am doing a charcoal-coconut cake, a black sesame mousse, white chocolate glaze, and black sesame-charcoal cookies. Fun fact, the activated charcoal that I use is coconut based, so in a way, it’s full circle with the coconut, albeit inadvertently.
Activated charcoal-coconut chiffon cake:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons coconut oil; melted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons activated charcoal powder
2 tablespoons coconut milk
Whip the egg whites, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar to stiff peaks. In another bowl, combine the coconut oil, egg yolk, 1 tablespoon sugar, coconut milk, and charcoal and whip to stiff ribbons as well. Sift the flour. Told everything together. Bake on a lined parchment sheet at 350 degrees F for 16 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the oven, turned off, for another 2 minutes, and remove. Using a 2 inch circular ring mold, cut out six rounds of cake.
Black sesame cheesecake mousse:
4 oz cream cheese
2/3 cups heavy cream; whipped stiff
1/4 cup black sesame powder
a pinch of vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons water
Bloom gelatin in cold water. Melt gelatin in remaining water and bring to a simmer. Combine into the cream cheese and whip. Add in the black sesame powder and vanilla. Continue whipping until soft. Fold in the heavy cream. Pour into the six silicone 4-inch half domes, filling about 2/3rds the way full. Press the cooked chiffon into the mousses, scraping off the excess, and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until completely solid.
White chocolate glaze:
1/2 cup white chocolate
1 teaspoon gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup soy milk
a pinch of ginger powder
2 teaspoons activated charcoal*
Melt the bloomed gelatin and ginger into the soy. Mix in the white chocolate and continue to stir until fully combined. With 1/4ths of the glaze, combine with activated charcoal and keep warm. You will be using this to glaze the cookies.
Use 3/4ths of the glaze to coat the six cakes, over an icing rack.
Black sesame-activated charcoal sables*
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup black sesame powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon activated charcoal powder
Combine ingredients and allow to set in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and punch out 1 inch cookies. Transfer to a lined baking tray. Sandwich the cookies between two sheets of parchment or silopats, and place between two sheet trays. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool completely. Using an offset spatula, scrape on the activated charcoal glaze over the cookies to smooth out their surfaces and allow them to set at room temperature for another 15 minutes to set.
Once the cakes are frozen and glazed, press on the glazed cookies onto the tops of the domes, and coat in the coconut flakes to create the pandas.