Odessa: a plated dessert

So this dessert was my take on an almost-entirely black and white dish. I went with a sesame chocolate cake with tahini mousse, white chocolate mirror glaze, white chocolate-sesame bark, chocolate-sesame crumble, and white sesame ice cream. I was really happy with how this dessert came out visually, and I was also stunned when the Chefs Roll Instagram account actually reposted it! That to me was a very proud accomplishment, just because it meant that a huge food-reposting account acknowledged my work! I went with the name Odessa because it means adventure and traveling, and with this dessert, you have influences from Asian, Middle Eastern, and French desserts, all in one, so it is like a Odyssey in cuisines if you will.

For this recipe, I opted to use tahini (sesame paste) in the actual chocolate cake itself, since it gives the cake this really dense, rich texture that people who like fudge-y chocolate cake would appreciate. With the mousse and the ice cream being lighter in texture, and with the crunchy crumble and chocolate pieces, I figured that the firmer texture of the cake would be appreciated as a contrasting mouthfeel to everything else. With the combination of chocolate and sesame, you would normally run the risk of the chocolate being the overpowering flavor. I purposely made sure that almost every component had sesame in it to counteract that issue, just to make absolutely certain that the sesame would be detectable.

For the sesame ice cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup tahini paste
3/4 cups granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat up the heavy cream in a pot on low heat. In a bowl, whisk your egg yolks with tahini, sugar, and salt. Pour half of the heated heavy cream into the egg yolks while whisking, and once that is combined, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pot and whisk everything over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Take the ice cream base off heat, and whisk in your vanilla. Pour the base through a strainer and cool down to room temperature. Pour the mixture into in ice cream machine and churn to the machine’s instructions. Transfer to the freezer and freeze for at least an hour.

Makes 12 servings:
For the sesame-chocolate cake:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup black sesame powder
3 tablespoons black cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons tahini paste
3 tablespoons hot water
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, sift together your flour, sesame and cacao powders, and baking soda. Melt the tahini paste into the hot water and mix into that your oil, sugar, salt, vinegar, and vanilla. Combine your two mixtures to form your cake batter. Pour and spread the batter onto a parchment-lined quarter sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Cool down the cake completely. Cut the cake into 3-inch by 1-inch rectangles.

For the tahini mousse:
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup milk
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup tahini paste
3 tablespoons heavy cream, whipped stiff

Mix gelatin into the water. Place the hydrated gelatin powder into the milk and heat on low heat until the gelatin is fully dissolved. In another bowl, mix together your egg yolk with sugar and salt. Whisk together the egg yolk with half of your milk. Once combined, pour back into the pot and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes on medium-high heat. Pour the egg yolk mixture through a strainer into a mixing bowl. Whisk the egg yolk mixture with vanilla and tahini paste first. Once the mixture is cooled down to room temperature. fold in the heavy cream. Transfer into a piping bag and pipe the mousse into a 12-cavity, 3-inch by 1-inch silicone bar mold, filling each cavity about halfway full. Press in your rectangles of cake. Freeze the mousse for at least 2 hours.

For the mirror glaze:
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon tahini paste
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup white chocolate

Mix the gelatin with water. Place the hydrated gelatin, milk, tahini paste, and salt into a pot and heat on low heat. Once everything is dissolved, take your pot off heat and stir in the white chocolate, using a rubber spatula, until melted together and combined. Pass through a sieve to remove any lumps. Allow the glaze to cool down to 90 degrees F before pouring over your set mousse cakes. Allow the glaze to set around the cakes, about 2 to 3 minutes, before transferring into the refrigerator to finish.

For the sesame-chocolate crumble
2 tablespoons tahini paste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons black sesame powder
1 teaspoon black cacao powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons dark chocolate

Combine all of your ingredients except for the dark chocolate to form a dough. Crumble the dough to about 1/4 inch pieces, and spread on a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Toss the pieces of dough with dark chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt and coat each piece of the crumble. Allow the crumb to cool down on a parchment or silpat lined surface in the freezer for 10 minutes before chopping up into smaller pieces.

For the white chocolate bark:
1/2 cup white chocolate
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

Heat the white chocolate with salt in a bowl over a double boiler. Once the white chocolate reaches 95 degrees F, take it off heat and stir everything until combined. Allow the white chocolate to come down to 89 degrees F before spreading it on acetate. Sprinkle on your black sesame seeds and refrigerate until set. Break apart into smaller pieces.

For the dark chocolate curls:
1/4 cup dark chocolate
a pinch of salt

In a double boiler, heat up the dark chocolate with salt to about 100 degrees F. Take off heat and continue to stir the chocolate, placing it over either ice or cold water, until it is 89 degrees F. Pour and spread the chocolate over a long strip of acetate. Using either a fork or a ridged bench scraper, scrape the unset chocolate to form each thin curl. Curl up the acetate and refrigerate until set.

For assembly:
Borage flowers

Start with your glazed mousse cake and garnish with the tempered chocolate pieces. Make a small mound of crumble and quenelle on your ice cream. Place the tempered chocolate curls on the quenelle. Garnish both parts of the dish with the borage to finish.

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