Chrysalis: a plated dessert

During my senior year of college, I made a plated dessert called “Sanagi” – sanagi is the Japanese word for chrysalis, or cocoon. The dessert itself was matcha pate choux with spun sugar, made to resemble a little caterpillar crawling into a cocoon, hence the name of the dessert. I wanted to do a more “grown-up” version of it, featuring cajeta(Oaxacan goat’s milk caramel), chocolate, and coffee. I still wanted to do pate choux, but this time, I went with a take on an eclair, just using three choux puffs piped directly next to each other to form a caterpillar-like shape to my eclair. The choux and the craquelin for this recipe both feature the cajeta in them, while the cajeta is also served on the side as the sauce for the dessert. I stuffed the eclair with a coffee mousse, while the top garnishes include a white chocolate snow, spun sugar for the chrysalis, and a cacao-coffee tuile. With playing around with caramel as a flavor, you run the risk of too much sweetness. For me, the usages of coffee and cacao help with tempering that down, while the spun sugar is brought to a really dark color to guarantee a pronounced bitterness, just not an acrid burnt flavor. For the tuiles, I used Pavoni baking molds(my new obsession), but if you do not have them, feel free to just use stencils or piping bags to create similar shapes!

For the homemade cajeta:
12oz evaporated goat’s milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup water

Mix everything, but the water, together in the largest pot you own on medium-high heat. After about 45 minutes of constant stirring, you should have a rich, jammy, leather-brown substance. Take off heat, and mix in the water to thin it out into a syrup consistency. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate if making ahead of time.

For the cajeta craquelin:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cajeta
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
a pinch of salt

Mix together to form a dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 1-inch circles. Keep these chilled until time to bake.

For the cajeta choux:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cajeta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
craquelin disks

Bring butter, water, and cajeta to a boil in a pot. Once the butter is fully melted, add in the flour and stir rigorously until combined and it forms into a shiny ball of dough. Allow the dough ball to cool down to just above room temperature before whisking in the egg and transferring to a piping bag. Pipe out 3 3/4-inch dollops of your batter directly next to each other on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Repeat this twice to form three eclairs. Place the craquelin on each dollop. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, then another 10 minutes at 10 minutes. Allow the choux to cool down completely before hulling out the bottoms for the filling.

For the coffee mousse:
3 tablespoons ground coffee
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons dark chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a pot, heat up the coffee and milk on low heat for 10 minutes. Strain out the liquid. In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water into a slurry. Place the strained coffee-milk and the cornstarch slurry into a pot and whisk on medium heat with the salt and dark chocolate until everything is melted together and thickened substantially enough to cling to the sides of your whisk. Pass through a sieve to remove lumps. Whip heavy cream and vanilla to stiff peaks. Fold the cream through the room temperature chocolate-coffee mixture and transfer it into a piping bag.

For the cacao-coffee tuile:
1 egg white
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons black cacao powder
1 teaspoon ground coffee
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Mix ingredients together to form a batter. Allow the batter to sit for at least 30 minutes before using. Spread the tuile batter into the baking molds and bake at 350 degrees F for 9 minutes. Allow the tuiles to cool down completely before using.

For the white chocolate snow:
2 tablespoons melted white chocolate
1/4 cup tapioca maltodextrin
a pinch of salt

Mix together to form a powder.

For the spun sugar:
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons water
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar

In a pot, bring the ingredients to a simmer. Once the sugar begins to turn amber in color, place the pot into a larger bowl of cold water. Carefully drizzle the sugar over a rolling pin to form the threads. Wrap the threads into a cocoon shape.

To assemble:
Pipe the filling into the bottom of your puffy eclairs. Place down a circle of the cajeta onto the plate, then on top of that, to the side, the eclair. Place on top of that the snow, powdered sugar, and then the tuiles to finish.

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