Pavé the Way: a plated dessert

I spent about three days trying to figure out what I was making with salted duck eggs. I initially purchased them for my hiyoko manju, but that recipe only used two of the eggs, and the packet I bought came with six. After coming up with several dessert ideas, then realizing that none of them fully or 100% worked with these duck eggs, or worked better with other ingredients, I finally had an epiphany: pavé. Pavé is, in the case of a dessert, a firm set mousse, usually made with chocolate. The name is of French origin, and is the word that ‘pavement’ is derived from. Think like a fudgy ganache situation, but served to you in a square-ish shape. This kind of dessert is also called chocolate marquis, but I wanted to call it a pavé because it just fit with the sort of playful, earthy aesthetic of the dish, with the edible soil and the flowers and what not.

With the duck egg yolks, I blended them into a white chocolate pavé, just to add that custardy flavor and texture to it, and to act like a salt. I also used the duck yolk in a crumble, since normally egg yolks are an ingredient I use in shortbread dough anyways. With these two components, you have sweet, salty, creamy, and crunchy. While delicious on their own, the one thing I knew that could balance the fattiness of everything else was tea. In this case, I went with chamomile to again, tie in with the earthy sort of feeling to this dish, but also since it adds brightness with those apple-like notes. I went with a gelee, in this case, a fluid gel, with that tea. The gel adds bitterness and floral notes, just to break apart the richness from the duck egg and white chocolate. I also used the tea to make a caramel, since that will be complimented by the saltiness from the duck yolks, while caramel and custard is just such a classic combination. For the caramel itself, I went with Okinawan black sugar for a more intense caramel flavor, but using dark brown sugar works as well!

For the pavé:
1/3 cup white chocolate
1/3 cup milk
1 salted duck egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or canola oil
1 tablespoon agar agar

Puree all of your ingredients together until combined. Should your blender not fully melt the white chocolate, transfer the mixture into a pot and stir on medium heat until everything is melted together. Pour into silicone molds and freeze for at least 2 hours to fully set.

For the crumble:
1 salted duck egg yolk
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Whisk the egg yolk with sugar, oil, and vanilla until fully combined into a smooth paste. Fold the flour into the paste to form your dough. Spread the dough in small, fingernail-sized pieces, on a lined sheet tray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cooked crumble to cool down before smashing into smaller pieces.

For the gelee:
1/3 cup chamomile tea (you can also use jasmine tea too!)
1 tablespoon agar agar
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon or yuzu juice

Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Once the agar has fully melted into the liquid, pour into a shallot container and refrigerate until just solidified. Place into either a blender, food processor, or bowl and puree or whisk until fully smooth. Transfer into a squeeze bottle and use right away.

For the caramel:
1/4 cup chamomile tea
1oz Okinawan black sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Bring tea and sugar to a simmer in a deep pot. Once the mixture is reduced by more than half, the consistency is resembling that of honey, carefully add in the milk and stir until combined, off heat. While most caramels usually need to be measured to a temperature of about 300 degrees F, this one does not as the Okinawan black sugar has deeply developed notes already.

To garnish:
Viola flowers

Place the pavé on the plate first. Cover with the crumble, and finish with dots of the gelee and the flowers. Place the caramel into a jug on the side or place in a dot on the size of the plate.

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