Fortress: a plated dessert

This is sort of my take on a PB&J, with a Jordanian/Albanian spin, using summer produce! I wanted to feature the peaches since we are in peak peach season in the summer, while using white sesame just felt like a great pairing, because more light and delicate than the more robust and hearty black sesame. I wanted to also use halva, which is a delicious candy made from crystalized sesame paste, just to lend a nice sesame flavor, but also to season my sesame mousse and some pieces of phyllo. For the other components, we have a peach granita, made with blending the peaches with their skins on with white tea for a vibrant pink color, a sesame mousse that is lightly spiked with a little orange blossom water, brown butter and halva-coated pieces of phyllo for nuttiness, toastiness, and texture, and some brown butter-macerated peaches for freshness and to embrace the summer produce for what it is. Overall, you can expect a pleasant but refreshing combination of flavors when trying this recipe, with it being very similar to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the nuttiness, creaminess, tartness, and sweetness all mirroring that through those components.

For the peach tea granita:
1 peach, pitted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup white tea(chamomile or jasmine is preferred)
a pinch of salt

Puree everything until fully blended. Pour into a shallow heatproof container and freeze until solid. Scrape into a fine powder and keep in the freezer until time to plate.

For the sesame mousse:
2 teaspoons gelatin powder
1 tablespoon cold water
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon brown butter
2oz halva
3oz tahini
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water

Mix gelatin with cold water. Place into a pot with milk, brown butter, halva, tahini, and salt, and bring to a simmer. Whisk while the mixture is cooking down until all of the lumps are melted down. Pass through a sieve. Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature. Whip cream with vanilla and orange blossom to stiff peaks. Fold the cream into the sesame base. Pour into silicone petit gateau molds and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours, before attempting to unmold.

For the halva dusted phyllo:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons brown butter, kept warm
4oz halva, kept cold

Mix flour, water, and salt together to form a dough. Do not overmix the dough, as the more you knead it, the tougher it gets, and the more leathery your final product will be, as opposed to thin, light, and crisp. Rest the dough at room temperature for 10 minutes. Divide into four even pieces and roll each piece out to 6-inch circles. Brush three circles with brown butter then stack the four so that the top of the top piece and the bottom of the bottom piece are the only two sides that are not brushed with butter. Roll out as thin as you can. Freeze the dough for at least 10 minutes before cutting out your desired shapes. Brush the tops with more brown butter and grate your cold halva on top. Bake at 375 degrees F between two lined sheet trays for 15 minutes, then uncovered for another 15 minutes. Allow the phyllo to cool down before separating into smaller pieces.

For the macerated peaches:
1 peach, pitted and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons brown butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
a pinch of salt

Toss together and place into a bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Slice into smaller pieces and re-toss with the maceration liquid just to guarantee that every side of the peaches are coated.

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