After the fire: a petit gateau

So I really wanted to make a dessert using these new wooden sake cups I bought, since I don’t exactly drink, and I really have been enjoying seeing these wooden box tiramisus on my Instagram feed lately. I did want to do a take on a tiramisu, but I didn’t exactly want to do a classic or a matcha-flavored one, just because those were the flavors that I have been seeing thus far. I wanted to do something a little bit more different, but still keep the flavor profile Asian, since that is my speciality. And then I thought about what I could get thematic or aesthetic inspiration from. I remembered the song “After the Fire” from Carole and Tuesday, and decided to do a nod to the appearance of a burnt out campfire. Since the boxes were wooden, I felt like going with light browns, dark browns, and black would be the best way to echo the effect of charred or darkened tinder.

So for the layers of my dessert, I went with a kinako(toasted soy powder) and chestnut genoise, soaked with barley tea, a black sesame cheese foam, just to make the flavor very similar to milk tea, a brown butter chestnut puree, and black sesame-activated charcoal warqa pastry. While yes, I have done SEVERAL chestnut desserts now, for this particular recipe, I had to use up some almost expired Japanese chestnut powder, and that sort of pushed my decision to make this particular chestnut flavored as opposed to strictly charcoal or kinako. That, and it was fun to combine the inspirations of milk tea, Mont Blanc, and tiramisu together into one cohesive dessert! Now, you might be thinking a petit gateau is just a mini mousse cake that is glazed, based off of my previous posts, but it literally is just French for a small cake, which in this case, this sort of is that. I mean, it was either a petit gateau or a parfait-trifle-tiramisu thing, but I just opted for the simpler title in this case.

Makes 4 individual servings:
For the kinako-chestnut genoise:
2 tablespoons kinako powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Japanese chestnut powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown butter
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip the egg with sugar, salt, and vanilla until it reaches ribbon stage. Sift the powders, soda, and flour together. Fold the brown butter and powders into the whipped egg mixture and pour onto a small sheet tray, spreading out as evenly as possible. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes. Cool completely before cutting out into squares, making sure that you get 12, as you will be using three per wooden box.

For the chestnut-brown butter puree:
1/4 cup roasted chestnuts
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons brown butter
a pinch of salt

Simmer down the chestnuts in cream, brown butter, and salt. Strain out the chestnuts once tender and puree, adding in the cream as necessary to allow the blender blade to catch the chestnuts. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a piping bag equipped with a star tip. Keep at room temperature until assembly, as the mixture will harden and firm up when chilled down.

For the barley tea soak:
1 bag barley tea leaves
a pinch of salt
water

Bring water, tea bag, and salt to a simmer. Allow the tea to cool and steep into the liquid before using.

For the black sesame cheese foam:
6 oz cream cheese
3 tablespoons soy bean milk
1/4 cup black sesame powder
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip cream cheese with sesame, salt, and vanilla first, until creamed. Slowly drizzle in the milk and allow that to whip into the mixture, lightening it. Keep at room temperature until it is time to assemble.

For the activated charcoal warqa/brick pastry:
1 tablespoon kinako
1 tablespoon Japanese chestnut powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon activated charcoal powder
1 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together to form a thin batter. Place a nonstick pan over a double boiler. Using a brush, brush some of the batter lightly along the surface of the pan, alternating the direction of each brush stroke to create a crosshatch pattern with the batter. Allow that to cook on the double boiler until the batter comes off in a clean sheet. Bake these sheets at 350 degrees F for 2-3 minutes to crisp up before breaking into smaller, more manageable pieces.

To garnish:
2 tablespoons kinako powder
2 tablespoons Japanese chestnut powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
roasted chestnuts

For assembly:
Brush soak onto 2/3rds of your genoise squares, saving your cleanest cut squares for the top layer. Place one soaked square of genoise on the bottom and add in about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cheese foam. Repeat again with the other soaked square. Place the last square into the box, and sift a mixture of powdered sugar, kinako, and chestnut powder over the top. Also sift this same powder mixture over the warqa pastry sheets. Pipe a rosette of puree on top of the powdered cake square and garnish with a roasted chestnut and three shards of the warqa pastry.

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