This was my first time working with salted sakura blossoms. And let me tell you, they are saltier than me when I am told that I have to work overtime when I was an accountant. I wanted to cook with these to celebrate the cherry blossom viewing season, but I did not realize that they would literally be salt bombs. So I advise you to be VERY careful when using these.
For my little orgel, I wanted to stuff it with pastry cream that I infused with the blossoms, as well as a gelee on top that had them as well. The dough itself is infused with pitaya powder, which is how I achieved the naturally colored the pink parts of the dessert. In a bizarre way, this wound up being like an egg tart, which is more Chinese, but whatever. I also used Okinawan black sugar syrup, which is this rich, deep syrup, just to help with offsetting that pickled flavor of the blossom.
For the pastry dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup cold water
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pitaya powder
Combine all of the ingredients except for the pitaya powder and form into a smooth dough. Remove about 1/4th of the dough and dye pink with the powder. Roll out the uncolored dough to about 1/8th an inch thickness and press into a 6 inch ring mold. Scrape off and reserve any excess. Prick the bottom of the dough and line with parchment then weigh with baking weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice, whatever you have on hand really. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
With the remaining dough, roll and cut out at least 3 2-inch circles in each color. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. Cut out the centers with a cherry blossom cutter, and swap the interiors with a cherry blossom cookie of the alternate color. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
For the pastry cream:
3 egg yolks
1 cup soy milk
1/4 cup Okinawan black sugar syrup
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon salted cherry blossoms
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip egg yolks with syrup and cornstarch. Streep blossoms into soy milk. Strain out blossoms after 5 minutes. Temper liquid with the yolks and whisk on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, as well as thick enough to cling to the whisk. Strain again and pour into the pre-cooked tart. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees F.
For the gelee:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Okinawan black sugar syrup
1 cup water
1/4 cup agar agar
3 tablespoons salted cherry blossoms; stems trimmed
Bring ingredients to a simmer, and once agar and sugar are melted, transfer to a shallow surface. Set in the refrigerator and slice into small 1/4 inch cubes.
Once the tart is filled, baked, and cooled, add in the gelee cubes. Garnish with Chantilly, and use that to glue the cookies on as well.
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