Bright lights: a plated dessert

I really wanted to come up with a dessert that showcases the beauty of dairy and light flavors. Since I was making milk bread, I decided to transform that into something akin to a baba(a brioche that is soaked in a rum syrup), but instead of doing the traditional rum soak, I decided to go with tres leches instead, just to tie in the milk in the milk bread. From there, I thought about what else I could do. I didn’t have condensed milk on hand, so I actually decided to make my own from scratch. And with the leftover condensed milk, I thought about making a dulce de leche with that, since I have never actually made my own from scratch, and I thought that would be a fun experiment. But then I was madly wrong on that count. It was an excruciatingly long process. This dessert was one of the first to actually take me more than two days to make. To make my own bread, my own condensed milk, and turning that condensed milk into a dulce de leche, and making an ice cream on top of that all, those are all time-intensive components. The dulce de leche took 8 hours to make. The bread also took about 5 to make. Ice cream takes at least 1 1/2 hours to make without a blast chiller and a professional ice cream maker. On top of all of that, certain components can’t even be made until others are(such as the ice cream and the dulce de leche), so you can’t just get all of the processes going at once.

My complaining about how long this dessert took to make aside(things that could easily be avoided if you buy dulce de leche instead of making your own), I was really into the concept of it. The tres leches milk bread takes inspirations from Latin America, Europe, and Japan, through the tres leches and baba inspirations and the usage of Japanese milk bread. I used layers of rare cheesecake, which is a  Japanese set cheesecake using cream cheese and in this case, tofu, between the layers of soaked milk bread. Using the sliced off tops of the mini bread loaves I made, I combined that with the dulce de leche to form a crumble to go beneath my ice cream. Now the ice cream is also really special to me. It’s a tofu ice cream base, using dulce de leche and lucuma. Lucuma is a fruit from the Amazon that tastes exactly like butterscotch or caramel. It’s the most popular ice cream flavor of Peru, so it ties in with this Latin-Asian-French dessert perfectly, while keeping the flavors consistent with what we’ve already introduce to the dessert in the dulce de leche. The end result in that ice cream is rich, nutty, creamy, with strong notes of caramel. I garnished the dessert with foraged oxalis flowers and leaves. Oxalis, being a member of the sorrel family, has a tartness to it, in both the flowers and leaves, which contrasts the richness and creaminess of the dessert beautifully. I named the dessert “Bright lights” because making this dessert was tiring, but the end result was like the light at the end of a two day tunnel.

For the milk bread:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg
a pinch of salt

Melt down the butter into the heavy cream. Temper in the egg and bring down in temperature to 100 degrees F. Pour into your flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Then place in a lightly oiled bowl and sit, covered, for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Separate the dough into 8 silicone bar molds and proof for another hour. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 minutes. Freeze the breads completely. Saw off the tops of the bread, reserving those for your crumble. Slice the bars into thirds. Soak the layers in your tres leches soak. Place one of the layers into the bar molds, then pipe in rare cheesecake. Place on a second layer of the soaked milk bread. Repeat another 11 times to form 12 servings, and freeze these until set.

For the rare cheesecake:
4 oz silken tofu
4 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoons buttermilk (I just made my own using whole milk and vinegar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Blend tofu, sugar, and buttermilk together. Whisk the cream cheese with salt and vanilla and fold in the tofu puree. Transfer to a piping bag.

For the tres leches soak:
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons condensed milk
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Mix together. Keep the liquid cold.

For the condensed milk:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
a pinch of salt

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then continue reducing on low heat until the liquid has been cooked out by about half. Cool down completely before using.

For the tofu ice cream:
8 oz silken tofu
1/4 cup dulce de leche
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lucuma powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Puree together all of your ingredients. Churn in an ice cream machine, then freeze for 1 hour before attempting to use.

For the dulce de leche:
14 oz condensed milk

Place the condensed milk into a mason jar and seal tightly with the lid. Line the bottom of a pot with aluminum foil, then fill with water. Place the jar into the water, making sure it is completely submerged. Simmer for 8 hours on low heat, with the lid on the pot as well. Cool down in the water, off heat, for 1 hour before removing the jar and refrigerate for another 1 hour before opening the jar to use the dulce de leche.

For the milk bread crumble:
1/4 cup milk bread crumbs
2 tablespoons dulce de leche
1 tablespoons lucuma powder
a pinch of salt

Blitz together ingredients until they form a consistent, fine texture. Bake at 375 degrees F for 4 minutes. Cool completely before using.

For garnish:
Oxalis flowers and leaves

Place the rare cheesecake tres leches baba on the plate and garnish with your oxalis flowers. Place on a mound of crumble and garnish with oxalis leaves and a quenelle of your ice cream.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Virginia L. says:

    Your innovation and ingenuity really show through in this beautiful dessert!! It looks amazing actually. Not only I wish you that some day you can have your own cafe/restaurant/bistro/IT, I so wish that you can travel the world to soak in and digest all the food knowledge!!

    Liked by 1 person

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