“Fever Dream”: a plated dessert

I literally named this dessert after my favorite mxmtoon song, “Fever Dream”. For me, that term represents memories and milestones of your life, past, present, and future, just melting together into one moment. So I wanted to do that in this dessert! For starters, I wanted to use cherries, since my birthday cake growing up was black forest cake – the only cake that the bakery under my grandma’s apartment in Taiwan served which could feed me and my extended Taiwanese family was black forest cake, so that was what I associated with my birthday until I turned 18. I wanted to use salted cherry blossoms as well, since that was an ingredient that I learned to appreciate while I was studying wagashi making! I knew I had to use tea smoking as well, since it was a technique I really mastered during the pandemic, while instead of using dark chocolate, I opted for ruby chocolate, just because it adds a nice tartness, and it was an ingredient I fell in love with right after being on season 10 of Masterchef!

For the components, we have a salted sakura and ruby chocolate mousse, a pink sakura gelee, tempered ruby chocolate, tea smoked cherries and cherry puree, and a ruby chocolate snow. The components of the dessert represent the four seasons as well, with the snow obviously being winter, the gelee being more summery, the usage of tea smoking being a fall-type of thing, and cherry blossoms being in peak season during the spring. That’s really the main tie-in to the concept of “Fever Dream”, just because the dessert brings together so many different things into one plated dessert! That and the pink color makes this a perfect dessert for Pinktober!

For the salted sakura and ruby chocolate mousse:
1 cup half and half
2 tspn agar agar
8oz ruby chocolate
A pinch of salt
2 salted cherry blossoms
½ tspn vanilla extract
1 tspn pitaya powder
2 CO2 cartridges

Heat up heavy cream with agar first. Puree everything besides the CO2 in a blender. Pour through a sieve into a foaming gun. Charge with 2 CO2 cartridges. Foam into 1.5-inch silicone half sphere molds and level off. Freeze for at least 20 to 30 minutes before attempting to unmold.

For the sakura gelee:
1 cup water
3 tbsp agar agar
¼ cup sugar
¼ tspn pitaya powder
¼ tspn yuzu juice
2 salted cherry blossoms

Heat up water, agar, and sugar until dissolved. Mix in the other ingredients and pour into a shallow container. Freeze for at least 10 minutes so that it’ll firm up. Cut into smaller cubes and store in an airtight container before using.

For the tea smoked cherries:
1 cup bing cherries
1 cup rainier cherries
¼ cup Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
¼ cup rice
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 salted cherry blossom

Pit and half the cherries. Keep in separate heatproof bowls, since bing cherries could blend into the rainier, and we are doing different things with each kind of cherry. Line a wok with foil, and place in the tea leaves, rice, sugar, and the cherry blossom. Heat up the wok until the sugar begins to burn and smoke. Place a grate over that. Place the bowls on the grate and cover, with either a larger pan or bowl, just to seal in the smoke and let that permeate the cherries. Allow the cherries to sit in the smoke for at least 2 minutes. Remove and keep in an airtight container so that they stay smoky.

For the tea smoked cherry puree:
1 cup smoked bing cherries
2 tspns yuzu juice
2 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tspn xanthan gum
A pinch of salt

Puree everything together until it forms a fine coulis-type of sauce. Pour into a squeeze bottle to finish.

For the tempered ruby chocolate:
8 oz ruby chocolate
A pinch of salt
¼ tspn finely grated cocoa butter

Heat ruby chocolate and salt on a double boiler until fully melted. Take off heat and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the chocolate registers 90 degrees F. Mix in the cocoa butter and stir until it reaches about 88 degrees F. Pipe into ice water to form thin, dramatic strands of the ruby chocolate, and keep those cold until time to plate, only draining on a paper towel right before plating. Reserved the rest for the snow.

For the ruby chocolate snow:
2 tbsp melted tempered ruby chocolate
½ cup tapioca maltodextrin powder

Mix together to form your snow. Keep in an airtight container.

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