Rainbow of illusion: a mirror glaze cake

So the name of this dessert stemmed from the lyrics of a harmonicblend song, “Auf Wiedersehen”. When I was trying to conceptualize this dessert, I wanted to make something that can be made into a rainbow, and I wouldn’t necessarily say deconstruct it, but rather, emphasize aspects of the rainbow that I wanted to. When it comes to a rainbow, obviously, we have colors. So red, blue, and yellow, being the primary colors, was where I wanted to go with the décor. Since rainbows are formed with prisms and light, I wanted to do some bubble sugar as well, just to represent water and light combining together. Now the “illusion” part was where I struggled a bit, admittedly. How I chose to interpret it was foods or ingredients that could cause you to hallucinate. From there, I thought about absinthe. It is an anise based liquor that can induce hallucinations. Since anise and fennel are identical, that’s where the inspiration to use fennel in the dessert came from. I wanted the interior of the dessert to be completely white, as that contrast of a colorful exterior but a completely pale and sedated interior represents a front or façade.

For the different layers, we have a fennel-olive oil cake, a citrus gelee and mousse, a multicolored mirror glaze, and absinthe bubble sugar. With bubble sugar, it basically is what happens when you heat up sugar to a really high temperature and you pour it over alcohol, in this case, the absinthe. The alcohol flavors the sugar and has a chemical reaction with it that causes it to bubble. Another thing I want to note is the multicolored mirror glaze. I used butterfly pea, turmeric, and beet powders to dye it. You can use food coloring instead, but I wanted to keep the coloring natural. I actually had to redo my mirror glaze because the first time around, I poured on too much of the red, resulting in the beet root powder bleeding into everything and making it all red.


For the fennel cake:
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely grated fennel
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
a pinch of fennel pollen
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
a pinch of salt

Combine together to form your batter. Spread onto a sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 18 minutes. Cool completely and cut out a 5-inch round.

For the citrus gelee:
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest from 3 limes
zest from 2 lemons
3 tablespoons  granulated sugar
1/4 cup agar agar
a pinch of salt

Combine ingredients together and reduce by about half. Pass through a sieve into a shallow container. Refrigerate until set. Cut out a 5-inch round of the gelee.

For the fennel pollen mousse:
1 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons absinthe
1 teaspoon fennel pollen
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Melt down gelatin and absinthe with sugar and salt. Deglaze with water. Temper egg yolks with that mixture. Pass through a sieve and chill down completely before folding in your heavy cream mixture. Pour half of the mousse into a lined 6-inch ring mold. Press in your gelee disk first. Then pour in the rest of your mousse, and finally, press in the cake round. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

For the mirror glaze:
1 cup white chocolate
2 packets of gelatin powder + 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
beetroot, turmeric, and butterfly pea powders

Melt down gelatin and sugar until the heavy cream and salt. Pour over the white chocolate and allow to sit before mixing until fully incorporated. Remove about 3 batches of 2 tablespoons of the glaze and color those with the three powders to form the red, blue, and yellow colors. Make sure to heat the glazes up to 90 degrees F when it comes time to glazing. Start with the white glaze, and then drizzle on the other glazes immediately. Allow the glaze to set around the cake before moving the cake.

For the bubble sugar:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
a pinch of salt

Pour some absinthe onto parchment and crumble. Reduce granulated sugar, water, and salt to about 315 degrees F(just barely yellow in color). Pour in a circle over the parchment and allow that bubble sugar to set before removing.


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