Goodnight Meteor: a plated dessert

I have been listening to an artist group called HarmonicBlend for a while now, and I just love their music. They have songs that really tell stories and follow themes, and their most recent album, Dreaming Children, features quite a few songs that I’m inspired to create desserts from. One of those desserts is named after their song, Goodnight Meteor. The idea for this dessert came from a combination of ingredients that invoke childhood nostalgia, like chocolate, walnuts, caramel, and cookies and milk, as well as things that induce food comas, i.e. gateau au chocolat, one of the most decadent chocolate-walnut concoctions that have ever come out of a French kitchen.

For this plated dessert, I heavily feature walnut milk. Now, to make walnut milk, simply boil down walnuts in water, puree them together, and strain out the solids, pressing to release the essential oils, juices, and flavors. And voila, you have a walnut flavored liquid that you can use for the base of a lot of things. In the case of Goodnight Meteor, I use the walnut milk to loosen the chocolate base for the mousse, to create tuiles, to create milk jam to stuff into the center of my mousse, and to finish the caramel sauce that will be used to garnish the dessert with. Other components include the Ovaltine chocolate mousse, a walnut croquant, a chocolate chip tuile, and a chocolate chip-walnut crumble. The idea is for the dessert to resemble a meteor or an asteroid crashing into a bowl, ready to be excavated.

For the walnut milk:
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup water

Bring to a simmer and then puree. Strain through a cheesecloth, extracting as much liquid as possible from the solids.

For the chocolate-Ovaltine mousse:
1 cup dark chocolate
1 tablespoon Ovaltine powder
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons walnut milk
1 teaspoon gelatin + 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup heavy cream; whipped to stiff peaks
a pinch of salt

Bloom the gelatin. Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. Combine with the egg yolk and ovaltine. Melt the gelatin into the walnut milk. Combine together with the dark chocolate and season with salt. Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature. Fold in the whipped cream, and pour into a 4 inch silicone half dome mold and freeze for 2 hours. Core out about 1/2 an inch of the chocolate domes.

For the brown butter-walnut milk feuilletine:
walnut milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter; browned

Brush parchment paper with the brown butter. On a large, shallow pan, slowly heat up the walnut milk until a skin forms on top. Press the parchment paper against surface of the skin, until it attaches to the parchment. Repeat so that you have a total of two tuiles. Bake the skins in a 150 degree F oven for 1 hour, or until crispy and dried.


For the walnut milk jam:
3/4 cups walnut milk
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

Reduce the walnut milk with the xantham gum. Pour into four mini silicone half domes, and freeze solid. Reserve the remainder to make the caramel.

For the walnut milk caramel:
1/2 cup brown sugar
remaining walnut milk and xantham gum base

Heat up the brown sugar until it begins to caramelize. Add in the walnut milk mixture and stir until the sugar is fully combined into the walnut milk and the mixture thickens. Strain and chill.

For the chocolate chip tuile:
1 egg white
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter; browned
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Combine ingredients together. Spread as thinly as possible onto a parchment or silopat and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.

For the chocolate chip-walnut crumble
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter; browned
2 tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chocolate chips

Toast the panko in butter, sugar, salt, and walnuts. Cool down. Add in the chocolate chips to finish.

For the walnut croquant:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup walnuts; crushed

Heat up the brown sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Once the sugar is fully melted and reaches 300 degrees F, pour onto a parchment sheet sprinkled with the walnuts, and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, just to allow the caramel to dry and spread out.

Add the milk jam into the centers of the mousse domes and freeze for another 1 hour. Heat up a pan, and melt the exposed ends of the mousse halves with the heated surface of the pan. Press together and smooth out the creases to create a smooth sphere. Keep cold until it is time to plate.

For the remaining components, start with a smear of the caramel along the inner rim of the bowl. Place the crumble at the bottom. Follow with the mousse, then press the tuile, feuilletine, and croquant onto the top.


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