This dessert was actually for a family friend, Isabel, to celebrate her birthday. Isabel is my father’s friend’s daughter, and she’s a real down to earth person. When I was asking her what kinds of flavors she liked, she told me delicate and light, so I wanted to go with lemon, white chocolate, coconut, and vanilla. For the aesthetic of the cake, I just wanted bright colors, and I even wanted to do a tempered white chocolate piece montee to garnish with, just to add that extra wow factor to the cake. For those of you who do not know what a piece montee is, it’s basically an edible cake/pastry sculpture. Popular examples of these include chocolate showpieces or croquembouche or those macaron towers. In my case, I obviously went with the chocolate showpiece, but you don’t have to do it for this recipe.
For the cake, I went with a vanilla chiffon cake, with lemon curd, coconut custard, and white chocolate cheesecake. I wanted the flavors and textures to be “light as air” so to speak, just so that it’ll be refreshing and not too dense or too much. I wanted to use the lemon just to again help with that balancing, since the acidity of the curd can offset the sweetness of the white chocolate.
Makes 1 6-inch cake, about 6-8 portions:
For the chiffon cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
a pinch of salt
Whip egg yolks with half of your sugar, the salt, and vanilla to ribbon stage, slowly adding in the oil. Whip the rest of the sugar with egg whites to stiff peaks. Combine with sifted flour, baking powder, and salt.
For the lemon curd:
juice and zest from five lemons
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
Combine lemon juice and zest, cornstarch, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer while whisking. As the mixture begins to thicken, continue to whisk on medium heat for 2-3 minutes to cook out the cornstarch. Take off heat and stir in the butter. Pour into a bowl and allow to refrigerate until set.
For the coconut custard:
3 egg yolks
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
Whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together. Bring milk up to a simmer and temper the egg yolks with it. Whisk on medium heat until thickened, 4-5 minutes of whisking, and pass through a sieve. Refrigerate until cool.
For the white chocolate cheesecake:
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
8 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Allow the cream cheese to come up to room temperature. Melt white chocolate and heavy cream together on a double boiler. Whip together the melted chocolate with cream cheese until smooth and incorporated.
For the piece montee:
In a double boiler, melt down about 3/4 cups of white chocolate. Bring this to about 95 degrees F, being careful to not let any water get into the chips. Take off heat and stir in 1/4 cup of white chocolate. Continue to mix together off heat until the chocolate is about 75 degrees F. Divide into two bowls, and swirl a slight amount of turmeric into one bowl. Swirl the two together and transfer to a piping bag. One acetate, pipe dollops using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, swipe them. Curl up the acetate and tie with a rubber band and allow the chocolate petals to set. For the center, pipe chocolate into silicone half dome molds, tipping out the excess and flattening the edges with an offset spatula, and allow those to set. Heat up a pot and press the set, flat sides of the chocolate spheres against those until they just melt. Press the flat sides against each other to set them. To assemble the petals, inside of a ring mold, pipe a smaller ring of the tempered white chocolate, then press petals around that. Continue to this process with a ring mold that is 1 inch smaller, and again, just for a total of three rings, and place them within each other, with the white chocolate sphere in the center. Allow the flower to set before removing and placing on the cake itself.
Cut out three 6 inch rings of cake, making one out of the scraps of cake. Line a 6 inch ring mold with acetate. Start with the scrap layer, then add in your lemon curd, then your custard, then your cheesecake. Repeat with the other layer, and for the top, mix the remainder of your filings together and spread on top. Allow to set for 1-2 hours before removing the ring mold and acetate and garnishing with the flower.