Seeds of heaven and earth: mini chocolate-mint pate choux tower

I thought of this dessert one late Thursday night when I was in a slump; I was starting to get bored with baking, just because I keep doing the same shit. Naked layer cakes, doughnut creams, the occasional ice cream and plated dessert. Bottom line, with this dessert, I was trying to do something different here, because I’m sure as hell not going to make any of those previous things at this particular moment in time. So I came up with a dessert that utilizes pate choux, and decided to create these little mini chocolate chouqettes, or puffs, that are scented with mint. Yes, I have done a mint-chocolate dessert before, but this one is slightly different nonetheless. The chouqettes were meant to resemble little seeds, with the fried mint to be the plant sprouting out of it. I wanted to create a cute little pate choux tower that has pipings of chocolate mousse to help hold the structure of the tower.

The concept of the name came about from the idea of going far, far away from your comfort zone and growing there. It could represent immigration, getting a new job, moving, trying a new hobby, etc. You take root in the earth and reach towards the heavens. Cheesy, weird, whatever the hell you want to say about my thought process, I could frankly give a flying shit. Please reread that sentence with a British accent, because cursing in a British accent sounds a lot more intelligent and less crude. This was my brain child, made from a determination not to keep doing the same shit I have been doing. Repetition is great and all, but it’s super boring, and I wanted to branch out from what I have already done.

For the pate choux:
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 eggs

Bring water, butter, and sugar to a boil until the butter completely melts. Add in the flour and cocoa powder and continue stirring until the dough forms a shiny exterior. Take off heat. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Transfer to a piping bag. Pipe out 1/2 inch diameter dollops onto a parchment sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Mint pastry cream:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mint extract or oil
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 cup milk

Steep mint leaves in milk for 10 minutes. Whip yolks with sugar, flour, and salt. Strain out mint leaves, squeezing to remove as much milk and flavor as possible from them before discarding. Temper yolks with milk and whisk over medium high heat for 4 minutes, or until the cream is substantially thickened; it needs to not just cling to the back of a spoon, but also hold its structure and yield soft peaks when being whisked. Season with vanilla and mint extracts and strain. Refrigerate covered in cling wrap.

Chocolate mousse:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon egg yolk
1 tablespoon water + 1 teaspoon gelatin powder
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Bloom gelatin in water. Melt in other water and bring to a simmer. Add in chocolate chips and stir until melted. Stir in egg yolk and take off heat once combined. Season with salt. Whip cocoa powder and heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold into the chocolate, then transfer to a piping bag. Refrigerate to set.

Mint-chip sable:
1 tablespoon egg yolk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips; chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint oil or extract

Cream together the vanilla, egg yolk, baking powder, butter, mint, and sugar. Fold in the flour, and finally, the chocolate chips. Chill down the dough for 10 minutes. Lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough to about 1/8th an inch thickness. Cut out 2 inch rounds. Transfer to a parchment sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Mint-chocolate ganache:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon mint extract or oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
a pinch of salt

Melt chocolate chips into warm cream. Season with salt and mint.

Fried mint:
Mint leaves
Canola oil

Heat oil up to 350 degrees F. Fry the leaves for 2-3 seconds and drain on a paper towel.

Assembly: Spread a thin layer of ganache onto the sable. Fill the pate choux with the mint pastry cream. Top the pate choux with ganache. Place three pate choux onto the sable, then pipe a dollop of the cream between each puff. Place on a fourth puff, and garnish the entire dessert with four fried mint leaves.

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