Sloth-acado Eclairs

So for my Sylvie(if you watched my audition on season 12, you will better remember her as “Fred’s Friend” who was making all of that commentary about my chocolate LOL)’s birthday, I wanted to make a fun dessert that was unlike anything I have previously attempted. Sylvie is obsessed with this sweet passionfruit-avocado tart that she had at Republique(a very popular bakery/cafe/restaurant here in LA), and that was where my mind went with the initial flavor inspiration of this recipe. I also know that Sylvie is obsessed with sloths, so it was a upper-middle tier priority for me to make sure that the dessert resembled a sloth but also featured avocados in some way, shape, or form. My initial thought on doing an avocado dessert is pairing that with chocolate and chili, but unfortunately Sylvie hates chocolate, so that is a huge no-no. Instead of doing the passionfruit though, I went with coconut and pandan, just to give it a more mild flavor profile. Plus when I think of sloths, I think mild, not intense or scary. However, there was one major challenge in this – the actual sloth itself. I knew I could pipe out the sloth from a variety of mousses, but not being able to use chocolate was tricky, since that meant I could not rely on chocolate and cocoa powder to give it that brown coloration. So instead, I went with caramel. And more specifically, coconut caramel. I knew that the nuttiness of the coconut, in that caramel, would actually work nicely with the avocado, while the pandan will add more floral notes. That and the caramel will tint anything a tan brown color, so I would have my brown in my dessert without using any chocolate! And with the darkening, when in doubt, activated charcoal it up, right?

For the specific components, I went with an eclair for this dessert, since it being long kind of works perfectly for piping a sloth on top of it. I left options in the recipe to infuse the eclair with coconut milk and oil, just to further bring in more coconut flavor, but if you do not want to throw out money for coconut oil, which I totally get, normal butter works just fine in this recipe! I filled the eclair with a pandan-avocado mousse, hence why I went with the name “Sloth-acado” for the eclairs themselves in this recipe. Hilariously I did use white chocolate for the mousse, half for a sweetener and half to stabilize the mousse with some fat. I know Sylvie won’t mind the usage of white chocolate, because it will not be detectable as chocolate anyways – she really only dislikes things with a strong chocolate flavor. Lime juice and zest are also in that mousse, so that the whole dessert will not eat super sweet. I used that same avocado filling to act like a glaze on top of the eclair, aslo to glue my cloths down to the eclair. With the sloth itself, I made a coconut caramel mousse using cream cheese as my foundation instead of whipped cream – the idea is that the cream cheese will provide a lot more stability and structure, so piping it will not result in a giant mess. I tinted the sloth using activated charcoal powder, but black gel food dye or even black cacao powder work nicely here too – hilariously, I served Sylvie a black cacao dessert one time and she actually liked it because black cacao tastes fruity instead of chocolatey. Just to be funny and to tie back in with the usage of coconut throughout this dessert, I used coconut flakes for the claws on the sloth, since they work hilariously well as that kind of component.

For the pate choux:
2 tbsp unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup (coconut) milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 egg

In a pot, heat up butter/coconut oil and milk until they come to a boil and are fully dissolved together. Add in the flour and salt and stir together until everything is combined into a smooth, shiny ball. Pour the mixture into a bowl and allow it to cool down fully before mixing in the egg to for a batter-like dough. Transfer into a piping bag and on a lined sheet tray, pipe your pate choux batter into 1/2-inch by 4-inch logs. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven to 350 degrees, baking for another 10 minutes. Allow the choux eclairs to cool down completely before starting on your initial assembly.

For the pandan-avocado mousse:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup white chocolate
2 ripe avocados
juice and zest from 2 limes
a pinch of salt
1 tsp pandan extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a pot, melt together the cream with white chocolate. Pit and scoop out your avocados. Transfer all of your ingredients into a food processor and puree together until smooth and creamy. Pour into a piping bag and refrigerate until time to assembly.

For initial assembly:
Poke at least 2 holes into the bottoms of each eclair. Pipe the mousse inside of the eclairs, and on top of the eclairs, smoothing it out into a flat layer. Freeze just so that the mousse can firm up and be a solid platform on top of the eclair.

For the coconut-caramel mousse:
1/3 cup coconut, dark brown, or palm sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp gelatin powder + 1 tbsp cold water
8oz cream cheese
activated charcoal powder(can substitute with dark gel food coloring or even black cacao powder)

In a pot, heat up the sugar with salt on medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved and begins to smell nutty. Take off heat and carefully add in the coconut milk, oil, and gelatin, and continue to stir until combined. In another bowl, whip cream cheese until softened and pour the coconut mixture into the cream cheese while whisking until combined. Portion out about 1/16 of the mixture and dye that using 1g(literally a tiny fleck) of activated charcoal powder to get it to a dark brown color, similar to coffee with a splash of milk in it. With the remainder of the mixture, add 1/4 tsp to 3/4 of it, just to tint it so it is noticeably lighter than the 1/16 portion. Place all three mixtures into separate piping bags for assembly – I separated the middle mousse into two bags, using a larger piping tip for one and a smaller tip for another, and put the other two mousses into a separate pair of piping bags. I would recommend using the smallest piping tip you have for the darkest mousse, as that mousse will be used for the face marking and snout.

To decorate:
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Starting with the second-darkest mousse, pipe onto the eclairs the arms, legs, and torso of the sloths. Then pipe onto where the head would be the “heads” using one dollop of the middle mousse, then piping directly onto that the face using the lightest mousse. Pipe onto that the face markings of a sloth using your darkest mousse(for the eyes and the snout). For the claws, use coconut flakes.

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