Fireflies in the night: a plated dessert

So when I first acquired pandan-buko extract, I had to play around with it a ton, since I had very little familiarity with it. Upon testing it with dango, I found out that it turns things green because of how strong of a green coloring that extract had. So I wanted to capitalize on that, and make a pretty dessert that highlights that green color. To contrast the green, naturally, we think of either brown, yellow, or black. So I went with black for a really dramatic effect. I did a black sesame “zenzai” which is like a chilled sweet Japanese soup, typically made with red beans, but I opted for the sesame paste as a thickener instead, served with some pandan dango(always fun to say three times fast), and a pandan coconut cream. The visual was inspired by fireflies in the night meets Japanese/Taiwanese nightmarkets in the summers.

Makes 4 servings:
For the zenzai base:
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup black sesame powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon activated charcoal powder

Whisk ingredients together in a pot on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the liquid begins to simmer. Strain and refrigerate the liquid until it is time to serve.

For the dango:
1/4 cup mochiko
1/2 teaspoon pandan buko extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons coconut milk
a pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together. Divide into 16 balls, pressing small holes into each of them. This will help them cook through faster. Boil these in salted water for 2 to 3 minutes, and once they begin to float, strain them and plunge them into cold water.

For the cream:
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon pandan buko extract
a pinch of salt

Whisk ingredients together.

To garnish:
Nasturtiums

Start with four dango per serving, then pour in your zenzai. Drizzle on the cream and garnish with nasturtium leaves to finish.

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