Matcha Kokedama(Moss Balls)

Kokedama are these decorative moss ball plants that are super popular in Japan. They are used as planters for other plants more often than not, and they give any room a pleasant, earthy aesthetic that I just adore. My first time seeing a kokedama was when I was playing Animal Crossing New Horizons, where they were a decorative item that you can use to furnish your island! Those adorable decorative moss ball vases were a fun inspiration to use for a petit gateau. With a lot of my cute petit gateau or entremet, there is a LOT of work that went into making these. They are deceptively simple-looking, but the amount of work that goes into even a teensy-weensy mousse cake could be very exhausting, depending on the difficulty scale. Compared to other petit gateau I have made previously, this one I would rate a solid 9 out of 10 in terms of technical difficulty.

As to why I would rate this petit gateau so high, it’s because of how many things are going into it. We have two different kinds of mousses, two baked elements, a glaze, and the cherry on top of the difficulty sundae, some chantilly cream(which actually is not that difficult unless you have never made whipped cream before, in which case, I would NOT recommend starting your whipped cream-making experience with this recipe, since two components require whipped cream to be made). The most difficult component would be the namelaka, as if it is not set up properly, your moss balls will either be puddles, or deformed blobs, either of which is less than ideal. Giving the namelaka sufficient freezing time, as well make making sure that the gelatin is melted in properly, which help you avoid any errors there. Beyond that, the other challenge with this recipe, which is true with any petit gateau or entremet, is making sure your components are frozen at the right times, just so that the layers can be put together without bleeding into one another.

For the actual components broken down, we have a red bean mousse, which is the core of the dessert, a matcha namelaka, which is a whipped matcha ganache, a matcha-red bean financier, which is both the base and garnish for the dessert, a matcha mirror glaze, the chantilly cream, and a matcha tuile on top to complete the moss ball aesthetic. This dessert will take at least 1 day to make, because there is a lot of freezing involved. You could also make your own red bean paste from scratch too, but for the two applications of red bean in this recipe, being the mousse and the financier, using premade paste is perfectly fine too. What’s cool about this financier recipe, compared to others that I have made previously, is that since the financier is baked in a sheet tray, it bakes quickly, and it creates neat little disks that work perfectly as a base for these moss balls to sit on top of. The matcha tuile adds a nice crispy texture and a pleasant crunch, although if I were to omit a component, it would be that one – you can always replace it with microgreens for a more organic moss ball-aesthetic! All in all, this is a recipe that I had been putting off until St. Patty’s Day, where I could appropriately debut a pleasantly green dessert!

For the red bean mousse core:
1/2 tsp gelatin powder + 2 tbsp cold water
2oz red bean paste
1/4 cup milk
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff and kept cold

In a pot, melt down the gelatin with red bean paste, milk, and salt. Once everything is dissolved together, pour into a bowl and allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature. Fold into that the heavy cream. Pour the mixture into silicone 1/2-inch half sphere molds and freeze solid. Press the two half spheres together to form a single core, doing this to create 6 cores.

For the matcha namelaka:
1 tsp gelatin powder + 2 tbsp cold water
1/3 cup milk
4oz white chocolate
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp ceremonial matcha powder
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a pot, melt down the gelatin with milk, white chocolate, and salt. Once everything is melted together, take the mixture off heat and whisk in the matcha powder. Pass through a sieve to remove any lumps and refrigerate the mixture for 20 minutes. Transfer the now-chilled matcha ganache base to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and begin to mix. Slowly add in the heavy cream to form your namelaka.

For initial assembly:
Start by filling 2-inch silicone sphere molds with the namelaka. Press in the red bean cores, and cover with more namelaka on top. Freeze the molds for at least 3 hours before attempting to remove the mousses. Keep these cold for ideal assembly.

For the matcha-red bean financier base:
1 egg white
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tbsp brown butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp matcha powder
a pinch of salt
1oz red bean paste

In a bowl, whisk the egg white with the sugar until frothy. Fold into that the almond flour first, then the melted brown butter. Lastly, fold in the matcha and salt to form your batter. Spread the batter onto a lined quarter sheet tray, and dot the batter with the red bean paste. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Allow the batter to cool down before cutting out 1-inch disks, and cutting up the scraps to use on top as garnish.

For the matcha-white chocolate glaze:
4oz white chocolate chips
1 tbsp gelatin powder + 2 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup milk
a pinch of salt
1 tsp ceremonial matcha powder

In a pot, heat up white chocolate, gelatin, milk, and salt. Once the white chocolate is dissolved into the milk, fold in the matcha first. Pass through a sieve. Heat the glaze to 90 degrees F prior to glazing the still-frozen mousses with.

For the matcha tuile:
1/4 tsp egg white powder
1 tbsp water
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ceremonial matcha powder
2 tsp canola oil
a pinch of salt

Whisk everything together to form a tuile batter. Pour the tuile batter into Pavoni tuile molds, or free-hand pipe them onto parchment. Bake at 325 degrees F for 12 minutes. Remove the tuiles carefully and transfer to an airtight container.

For the decorative chantilly cream:
3oz heavy cream
1 tsp confectioner’s sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Whip everything to stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag.

For final assembly:
Pipe a small dollop of the cream on top of each financier disk. Press the frozen mousse spheres on top. Pour the glaze over the mousses. Allow the glaze to set before transferring your mousses to another surface. Pipe another dollop of cream on top of the glazed mousses, and garnish with the cubes of financier, as well as the matcha tuile.

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