Vanille: a plated dessert

When I first started learning how to bake, I actually kept a sketchbook where I’d draw out my dessert ideas. One of them was a vanilla cake with apple that I dubbed “Vanille” after an over the top bubbly, bordering on annoying character from Final Fantasy XIII. Let’s not forget I’m as much a weeb as I am a baker. So for Vanille, besides being extremely cheerful, making weird noises, and being cited as one of the most useless characters of all time, still makes a good inspiration for a dessert for a couple basic reasons. The main one is her name is French for “vanilla”. I mean, come on, how can you NOT make a dessert inspired by her? The other reason was that each character had a crystal, called an Eidolith, which they can summon creatures to fight with, and in Vanille’s case, her crystal resembled an apple. And apples and vanilla are just such a natural pairing that I felt very much obligated to make something inspired by this!

For the dessert, I wanted to showcase apples and vanilla. So I thought about a simple cake that could utilize apples. At first, a torta di mela sounded like the obvious way to go, but Vanille doesn’t give Italian vibes. She’s more a girl in the wilderness. So I opted for malvapoedding instead. Malvapoedding is a South African cake that is heavily leavened so that it can soak up a ton of sweetened milk. Typically, the cake is made with apricot jam, but I substituted it with homemade apple puree instead. I also garnished with an apple chip, some whipped vanilla goat cheese, a vanilla-cardamom-ginger caramel, and an almond-bee pollen-apple crumble, just to tie in the flavors together!

For the malvapoedding:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 cup goat milk
3 tablespoons apple puree

Combine ingredients. Distribute into silicone bar baking molds and bake at 375 degrees F on the top rack for 20 minutes. Cool completely before removing and transferring intot the soaking liquid.

For the apple jam:
1 apple; peeled and cored

Peel, core, and finely dice the apple. Bring to a simmer with seasoned water and once apple is tender, puree and pass through a sieve.

For the soak:
1 cup goat milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
a pinch of salt

Bring to a simmer. Remove the bean. Pour over the cakes and reserve 1/4 a cup – 2 tablespoons for the goat cheese and 2 tablespoons to finish the caramel with.

For the apple chip:
1 apple
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon brown butter

Infuse spices into the brown butter. Shave the apple on a mandolin and cut out the core using a ring mold. Brush with butter and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

For the goat cheese:
4 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons soaking milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Melt sugar into the milk and pour into the goat cheese, whipping until smooth and creamy. Transfer to the refrigerator to solidify.

For the caramel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soaking liquid
a pinch of salt

Bring salt, water, and sugar to a boil. Once golden, add in the soaking liquid and stir until completely dissolved and smooth.

For the crumble:
2 tablespoons bee pollen
apple chips
2 tablespoons almonds
1 tablespoon brown butter
a pinch of salt

Blitz any cracked apple chips, bee pollen, brown butter, almonds, and salt together. Spread onto a sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.

For plating:
Start with a trail of crumble. Pipe in dots of the caramel sauce. Place a piece of malvapoeding on the plate and adorn with a quenelle of the goat cheese and an apple chip. Serve immediately.

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