Skyward bound: a plated dessert

I really only came up with this dessert because I wanted to do something with a burnt honey cremeaux. I don’t know WHY I wanted to do something with a burnt honey cremeaux, it just sounded like a cool component, and that was really it. Something about a silky, creamy texture of a set custard-like thing, with that complex, bittersweet honey flavor, I guess I was just craving a dessert that wasn’t sickly sweet. So I worked backwards, and thought about what pairs with honey. And I came up with almond and matcha. I thought about doing a honey-almond castella, castella being a honey cake from Portugal, and pairing that with an almond foam. From there, I remembered the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, and remembered how there was a golden egg sitting in the clouds. That sort of visual is what inspired the matcha chocolate stalk. Thinking through my components, we have creamy, bitter, crunchy, sweet, and nutty. But I wanted something acidic or tart. Then I recalled oxalis, or wood sorrel. These little clovers that are pops of sourness. Perfect for tempering any rich notes in the dessert! I also made this a gluten-free recipe, since I wanted to focus on the almond flavor, and only use almond flour and meal in the recipe. Because why not. And with that, the entire dessert came together, all around the idea of a burnt honey cremeaux of all things. We started with that component, and from that, grew an entire beanstalk out of it!

For the burnt honey cremeaux:
1/4 cup clover honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons brown butter
1/2 teaspoon gelatin powder
1 teaspoon water
1 egg yolk

In a pot, heat up your honey and salt until it reaches 300 degrees F. In another pot, heat up your brown butter, cream, gelatin, and water until dissolved. Once the honey reaches 300 degrees F, pour the cream into the honey and mix together. Pour 1/4 of the mixture into a bowl and whisk with your egg yolk. Temper the egg yolk with the remainder of the honey mixture and whisk on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Sieve and pour into 1 1/2-inch silicone half dome molds. Freeze for an hour before attempting to unmold. Finish with gold leaf.

For the honey-almond castella:
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 cup almond meal

In a bowl, whisk together your egg yolk, honey, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and vanilla until they reach ribbon stage. Sift in your almond meal. and fold to form your batter. Spread onto a parchment lined sheet tray. Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes. Allow the cake to cool before cutting out 1 1/2-inch disks and storing in an airtight container.

For the almond feuilletine:
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon brown butter
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine ingredients to form a thin batter. Spread on a parchment sheet as thinly as possible. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Cool completely and shatter into small pieces.

For the matcha crunch layer:
1/4 cup white chocolate
1 teaspoon matcha powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons almond feuilletine

Melt your chocolate, matcha, and salt together over a double boiler. Once melted and combined, mix in your feuilletine. Pour onto an acetate sheet and spread as thinly as possible. Freeze for 5 minutes. Cut out 1 1/2 inch disks from the set chocolate.

For the matcha beanstalk:
1/4 cup white chocolate
1 teaspoon matcha powder
a pinch of salt

Melt your ingredients together over a double boiler. Take off heat, and stir the chocolate down to 89 degrees F. Dip a heatproof circular or star shaped cookie cutter into the chocolate. Press the cookie cutter against a strip of acetate. Repeat this until the entire acetate sheet is covered in circles of chocolate. Refrigerate. Slice the circles to form the stalks. With your reserved chocolate, attach the stalk to the crunch disks.

For the almond foam:
1/4 teaspoon gelatin powder
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup almond milk
a pinch of salt

Combine the gelatin and water. Melt it into the almond milk with salt. Once dissolved, take the almond milk off heat and begin whisking until it cools down and begins to foam up.

For plating:
Oxalis clovers

Start with your cake on the bottom. Garnish with the crunch disk, then the cremeaux, and place on some feuilletine as well. Cover the cake in the foam, as that foam will soak into the cake as you serve it, preventing it from going dry. Finish with the oxalis leaves.

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