Small steps: a plated dessert

I wanted to create a dessert that represented my collective growth in dessert. Chocolate cake was obviously something that has huge sentimental value to me, so I had to feature that, and with it, two of my other favorite dessert go-to’s, being ice cream and macaron. For this particular dessert, I went with chocolate friands, which are similar to a financier or muffin, just to tie in with the almond with the macaron batter. I had been itching to try making a pretzel-embedded macaron for some time now, and I wanted to do that with this concept. For the ice cream, I wanted to do a brown bread ice cream, just because I felt like the flavors of rich brown bread, the pretzel, malt, and chocolate, it works beautifully together. I named the dessert “small steps” in reference to how I painted the plate with the ganache.

Makes about 6 servings:
For the malted brown bread ice cream:
1/4 cup diced brown bread
3 tablespoons brown butter
1 cup malted milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
a pinch of salt

Combine ingredients, minus egg yolks, and simmer until the bread is softened. Puree in a blender with the egg yolks and pass through a sieve to remove any large solids. Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature before churning in your ice cream machine. Keep in the freezer to allow it to set.

For the chocolate friands:
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Whip the egg whites with the sugar to stiff peaks. Sift the almond flour, cocoa powder, and flour together. Combine everything besides the chocolate chips and cornstarch together. Toss the cornstarch and chocolate chips and fold into the batter. Distribute into a lined 12 hole muffin tin and bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before unmolding and slice off the tops.

For the pretzel milk soak:
1 cup malted milk
1 cup pretzels

Bring both to a simmer until pretzels are soft. Pass through a sieve and press to release as much liquid as possible. Use most of the soak for the cake just to keep it from drying.

For the malted pretzel milk ganache:
1/4 cup pretzel milk
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix together in a pot. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until firm.

For the macaron:
3/4 cups almond flour
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
mini pretzels

Sift the flour and powdered sugar together. Whip egg whites with the granulated sugar and salt until they are at stiff peaks. Fold together, anywhere from 30-50 times, until the batter is loose, but still somewhat thick. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe out 3/4 inch wide circles onto parchment-lined sheet trays. Tap down the trays to allow the circles to spread and to remove their air bubbles. Place mini pretzels on half of the cookies. Allow these to sit for at least 30 minutes, if not an hour. The exact sitting time will actually depend on the humidity, as more humid days will take longer for a film to form on top of each individual cookie. Once you can glide your finger along a shell without batter sticking to it, then they are ready to be baked. Bake at 300 degrees F for 14 minutes, rotating halfway through. Be sure to only bake one tray at a time, as baking multiple can cause inconsistent baking for batches of macarons. Once the cookies are cooled, pipe a small dollop of the ganache between every other shell, making sure that every macaron with a pretzel on it is being paired with one without one, and sandwich together to form the cookies.

To garnish:
Marigold petals

Start with your cake first, then garnish with some of the ganache and some crumbled up macaron cookie(this is a good way to use any shells that might not have baked properly!). Garnish with a quenelle of your ice cream and smaller dots of the ganache with the flower petals and macaron off to the side of the cake.

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