Bestemors Eplekake (Grandma’s Apple Cake)

This post is all about feelings. My grandma, with whom I was close, would always make this for any festive occasion. And when I moved to Seattle she would always have a fresh baked cake ready for when I arrived. This recipe is for me to document her recipe so I don’t lose it. So I guess you are getting to see the family secrets. But true to everything I do I like to make my spin on it. The cake is my grandma’s recipe, but the rest is how I feel this should be served as a high class dessert. So I served it with warm Granola, Compressed Apples, Whipped Cream, and Baked Apple Hard Cider and Dill Syrup.

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Apple Cake

150g Butter (salted is fine)
250g Sugar
120g egg (3 eggs)
210g Cake Flour
2g Baking Powder
For topping:
4 Apples (Tart and crisp)
10g Sugar
5g Cinnamon

Pre-heat your oven to 175c (350f). Start by creaming your butter and sugar in stand mixer (any type of mixer works). Slowly add your eggs in 1/3 or 1 at the time.  Sift all the dry together and add to your batter. It is important to mix well, but not over-mix. Grease your cake tin with butter and add your batter to the tin. Peel and cut each appls in to 6 wedges. Before putting them on top of the cake, toss them in the Sugar and Cinnamon mixture. If you can get real Cinnamon it will make a pleasant addition to the cake. Gently press the Apple wedges into the batter in a circular pattern. Making sure they are evenly distributed. Sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. Bake for 45 minutes. Check it at 40 minutes and adjust if needed.

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For assembly, I warmed up some Oats with a little honey to make the granola, with a little sprinkling of salt and vanilla. Compressed the Apples with Calvados. Compressing fruits is when you take pieces of fruit and liquid and pressurize in a chamber vacuum sealer. Whipped up some cream with very little sugar. You could optionally omit the sugar from the cream. For the syrup I used a Baked Apple Hard Cider which is made by Washington Cidery, D’s Wicked Cider Company. Reduce that down to a rich syrup (1 part cider to 3 part sugar). Once you get that syrup consistency, remove it from the heat and add the Dill to infuse. Decorate with edible flowers. I used Snap Dragons as those were my favorite flowers from my Grandma’s garden.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Dim Sum Feast

Second phase of our celebration of our purchase of a Wagyu Beef Shank from Butcher’s Table, Joe and I decided to make a trio of dim sum; Soup Dumplings (Shao Long Bao), Pinch Steam Buns (Gua Bao), and Beef Rolls (Niu Rou Jian Bing).

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We found the recipes for the soup dumplings and pinch steam buns on Chefsteps, and we followed their recipes for the dough exactly. For the filling for the soup dumplings, we used Wagyy Beef Shank, cooked 80c for 24 hours. To the beef we added garlic, ginger, and green onion. Once cooked we reserved half of the beef for the steam buns and used the rest for soup dumplings. For the dumpling filling, we quickly pulsed the meat with the gelatinous stock in a food processor until it became a smooth paste.

Shank

1kg Wagyu Beef Shank
5g Szechuanese Peppercorn
5g Chili Japones
5g Cinnamon
5g Star Anise
5g Clove
10g Salt

Grind spices together and coat the outside of the shank. Sous vide 65c for 60 hours. Slice thin with a meat slicer.

Pancake

250g All Purpose Flour
170g Water (Boiling)
15g Oil (Neutral Oil)
10g green onion
pinch of salt
2 eggs

Filling

Cucumber
Cilantro
Chinese Sweet Black Bean Paste
Green onion

Mix flour and salt, and bring water to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, remove it from the heat and pour it into the flour and salt, and combine thoroughly. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 5mm thick. Brush the dough with all of the oil and then spread the onions over the surface. We are making laminated dough with oil instead of butter. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll, and then cut it into four equal pieces. For each piece, smash it into a ball and then roll it out flat again. Shape it into a rectangle so that your beef roll will come out evenly.

In a small bowl, crack the eggs and beat them to a homogeneous texture.

In a hot pan, add a little bit of oil, and fry each pancake one at a time. Allow it to cook on one side until bubbles start to form in the dough. Once it’s bubbling, pour in quarter of the beaten eggs, and spread it evenly over the top of the pancake, then flip. Do this quickly, being careful not to burn the pancake.

Once the egg is cooked, remove the pancake from the pan, and place it egg side up.

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Prepare the fillings

Thinly slice cucumber and green onions. Remove the stems from the cilantro.

To assemble, lay out the pancake, and apply a thin layer of sweet bean paste. Spread out the cucumbers, green onion, cilantro, and beef, and then roll it up. Slice into a few pieces, and optionally serve with pickled peppers.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Ras el Shank

This is the first part of Joe and mine’s celebration of the Wagyu beef shank we bought from The Butcher’s Table in South Lake Union. As befits the name, the butchery was immaculate, and the shank had immense flavor. We decided to pursue a  Moroccan flavor profile with a Ras el Hanout spice mix from World Spice in Pike Place Market. Normally one would use this method with lamb shanks, so this is our twist to it. We served it with a Harissa tomato sauce, Mint Yogurt, Cous Cous, and roasted veggies.

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Ras el Hanout Shank

Not much of a recipe for this. I used a spice mix from World Spice and rubbed it all over the outside of the 2kg Wagyu beef shank. Sous vide at 80c for 24 hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Finely chop some mint to add to Yogurt. I used a Greek yogurt from Ellenos in Seattle. Roast some zucchini and bell peppers in the oven, and cook cous cous until tender. Add the Bell Peppers to the cous cous.

For the harissa sauce, mix equal parts of freshly ground harissa and olive oil, and heat in a pan while stirring. Once the spices are integrated, stir in some tomato sauce, salt, and water, until you reach a tolerable heat level and a pleasing texture. Top the shank with the sauce

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Ras el Hanout Cocktail

For the cocktail, we kept it very simple, choosing to highlight the flavors of the Ras el Hanout. With fresh whole spices, the key is to mobilize the perfume with some kind of effervescence. The goal here is bring the spices to the front, so any complex spirits would be a distraction. For that reason, the drink is composed of vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh spices, and carbonated water. Despite the seemingly basic highball format, the drink develops a rich complexity of exotic flavors.

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See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Enchanted Valentine: Beauty and the Beast

Who told you that you might gather my roses? Was it not enough that I allowed you to be in my palace and was kind to you? This is how you show your gratitude, by stealing my flowers? But your insolence shall not go unpunished!

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For the longest time I have been wanting to serve a cocktail under a cloche. One of my favorite drinks is the Jack Rose, a Calvados cocktail that gets a rosy color from grenadine. When I thought of serving a Jack Rose under a cloche, it reminded me of the rose in Beauty and the Beast, and I realized I wanted to create a dish around this theme. Ultimately, we did not end up serving a Jack Rose, but this was the idea that set us on the path towards the Enchanted Valentine’s Dinner.

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The merchant, terrified by these furious words, dropped the fatal rose, and, throwing himself on his knees, cried: “Pardon me, noble sir. I am truly grateful to you for your hospitality, which was so magnificent that I could not imagine that you would be offended by my taking such a little thing as a rose.

Our final and third course is also a dessert, since you can never go too sweet on Valentine’s day, inspired by Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. I wanted a dessert to have a rough exterior with a unseen sweet and dreamy interior. So I made a Choux au Craquelin with rose crust and two layers of filling, a smooth pistachio custard and a creamy rose chocolate ganache. Joe at Measure and Stir went with the idea and made a cocktail worthy of being a rose. The rose is from the Disney version of the story, and paired a rose shrub with vanilla infused bourbon,  a drink he calls, Be So Kind as to Bring Me a Rose.

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The Sweet Heart of the Beast

Craquelin

100g Pastry Flour
100g Butter (Unsalted Soft)
100g Demerara Sugar
2g Dried Rose (Powder)
4 Drops Red Food Color

Choux

150g Water
100g Whole Milk
100g Butter (Unsalted)
3g Salt
3g Sugar
150g Bread Flour
200g Eggs
8 Drops Red Food Color

Start with the Craquelin by combining all the ingredients. Once they have formed a red paste roll the paste out between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll it out to an even 2mm thickness. Place in the freezer to set for 2 hours. For the Choux dough start by placing water, milk, and butter in a pot and place over medium heat until butter has melted. As the butter has melted turn up the heat and boil the liquid. Once the liquid is coming to a boil put the flour, sugar, and salt in as you remove the pot from the heat. Stir for your life as soon as you add the flour. Once mixed place it back on medium heat while you continue to mix and cook the flour out, dough will start to make coating on the surfaces of the pot. Pre-heat the oven to 175c. Let the dough cool for 10 minutes and add to the stand mixer. Add one egg at the time while you use the paddle attachment on medium speed. If you have a ThermoMix this dough is a breeze to make. Pipe golf ball sized balls onto a baking sheet (with Silpat). Take your Craquelin out of the freezer and use a cookie cutter and make 4cm discs. Place the discs on top to the Choux balls. Bake for 20 minutes and turn the heat down to 160c, continue to cook for 15 minutes. Cool on racks so that the bottom doesn’t get soggy. What ever you do, do not open the oven door to check on them. This will make them not puff up. You want to cook them golden, try on non dyed choux to get a feel for how they should look.

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Pistachio Custard

130g Pistachio (Roasted)
500g Heavy Cream
150g Sugar
250g Eggs
5g Vanilla Paste

I made this using my ThermoMix by finely grind the Pistachio into a flour/paste (any type of blender/food processor will do this). For the next step if you do not have a ThermoMix can temper your egg/cream mixture, by bringing the cream to a boil and slowly add into your eggs. Place the mixture back on the stove and gently cook until it thickens. In a ThermoMix you can place all the ingredients after the pistachios are grinded. Cook at 80c for 8 minutes on speed 5, then another 2 minutes at 90c. Place in a piping bag to cool. Pipe the choux half full with custard.

Rose White Chocolate Ganache

200g White Chocolates (Valrhona Ivoire 35%)
200g Heavy Cream
6g Dried Rose (Petals)

Add the dried rose to the heavy cream and bring it to 70c and steep the rose for 10 minutes.Bring the cream to a boil and strain the rose petals over the white chocolate. Stir the cream into the chocolate until it is all melted. Place in a piping bag to cool. Pipe the ganache to fill up the choux.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Enchanted Valentine: Snow White

The evil queen was a beautiful woman, but she was proud and arrogant, and she could not stand it if anyone might surpass her in beauty. She had a magic mirror. Every morning she stood before it, looked at her plate, and said:

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who makes the tastiest dessert of all?

Our second course is a sweet one, inspired by Snow White by the Brothers Grimm.

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As long as long as the queen was not the most beautiful woman in the entire land, her envy would give her no rest. She made a poisoned apple, and from the outside it was beautiful; white with red cheeks, and anyone who saw it would want it. But anyone who might eat a little piece of it would die.

“Are you afraid of poison?” asked the old woman. “Look, I’ll cut the apple in two. You eat the red half, and I shall eat the white half.”

Now the apple had been so artfully made that only the red half was poisoned. Snow-White longed for the beautiful apple; she barely had a bite in her mouth when she fell to the ground dead.

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To make the apple, I poached a Honeycrisp in sweet white wine, and then hollowed out the core to create a shell. I froze the apples to create a lush sorbet texture, and to help the mirror glaze stick to the exterior. The mirror glaze is intended as a reference to the queen’s magic mirror. To serve the apple, I layered whipped cream and a buttery Calvados caramel on a round of puff pastry, then placed the frozen apple over the cream.
Then she summoned a huntsman and said to him, “Take Snow White out into the woods and kill her. I never want to see her again.”

The huntsman obeyed and took Snow White into the woods. He took out his hunting knife and was about to stab it into her innocent heart when she began to cry, saying, “Oh, dear huntsman, let me live. I will run into the wild woods and never come back.”

The poor child was now all alone in the great forest, and she was so afraid that she just looked at all the leaves on the trees and did not know what to do.

Joe at Measure and Stir found inspiration from the huntsman’s role in the story, and paired the apple with a drink he calls Lost in the Forest.

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The Other Half of the Poison Apple

1 Apple
100g Mirror Glaze (Red)
75g Sweet White Dessert Wine (Muscato/Sauternes)
60g Puff Pastry
20g Whipped Cream
5g Freeze Dried Apple (Powder)
10g Calvados Caramel

Start by creating your Calvados caramel. I used the recipe as my bourbon caramel, just swapped the alcohols. Peel the apples and place in a bag with the sweet wine and vacuum seal, if you have a chamber vac this will help create a compressed apple. Sous vide the apple for 30 minutes at 85c, leave to cool for a 10 minutes. Cut the apple in half and scoop out the flesh as the apple is still warm. Place the cored apples on a flat tray and put in the freezer. The Apples are served frozen to get a sorbet effect. Once the apples have frozen prepare the Mirror glaze, I made mine red. Glaze the apples and place back in the freezer.

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Prepare the puff pastry by cut them into 10cm discs, and baking it between two baking sheets. This will make sure they don’t puff up. I used store bought puff pastry, and you can get some awesome puff doughs that are ready to use. A recommendation is to get one with butter. Assemble by whipping up some heavy cream with the freeze dried apple powder. We want the cream to almost become butter. Better to go under than over on the whipping. Please the cream on the puff pastry disc and add the calvados caramel around. Cap the cream with the frozen apple.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Restaurant Visit: Osteria Francescana

Earlier this summer I were invited to one of my best friends wedding parties in Italy. Home of the pizza and pasta. Making sure I planned ahead I made reservations for 4 to Osteria Francescana. Osteria Francescana were originally fully booked as there some changes in how to make reservations. But the host was able to magically make a new table appear. So got very lucky to get a reservation. Just days afterwards they were given the “Best Restaurant in the World” award. So expectations were high.

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Got a picture with the Man himself, Chef Massimo Bottura

These are my mobile pictures I took of the meal. The meal was as you could expect top notch. But in any meal there were some I liked better than others. Attention to detail, atmosphere, and the total experience were just fantastic.

 

From the outside you couldn’t really tell what was behind those doors. Looks very hidden, but the best things in life are those that you explore. So this just got me more excited.

Selecting wine is not something that should be taken lightly. We started the meal with a nice Barolo 2008 and then a nice Lambrusco 2013. We selected the Tuffo menu, which is composed of the dishes you see on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. They also have another set menu, which you can find on their website.

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The meal started off with a little crispy toast with Rabbit mousse

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Tuile with Parmesan

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Meringue shells filled with Foie Gras and Puff Pastry filled with Rabbit Pate

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Tribute to Normandy
Tartar of lamb with a seafood sauce

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Lentils are Better than Caviar
Lentals cooking in a briney broth to emulate the saltyness of Caviar. This was probably my favorite dish.

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‘Riso Levante’
Risotto with Saffron

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Mediterranean Sole
Sole served with dehydrated salt water that create a thin paper that melted away in your mouth.

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An Autumn Ceviche in Modena
Mushrooms and chestnut in a cream sauce

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Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in Different Textures and Tempratures
Who knew you could make Parmesan sing like this. Not just you addition to pasta.

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The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna
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At the Dinner of Trimalchione: Fowl in the Ancient Roman Style
Fowl with crispy skin with a dark and rich sauce made with the drippings

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Croccantino of Foie Gras
Foie Gras Popsicle covered with caramel chopped nuts. This was my favorite bite. But I do love my Foie Gras

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Caesar Salad in Bloom
Romain Lettuce with flowers and freeze dried raspberry powder

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Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart
Decontructed Lemon Tart, the small dots on the top of the plate were many different sauces and textures. Ranging from hot sauce and Capers, to different herbs.

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Chocolate Ganache with Freeze Dried Raspberry Powder

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Filled chocolate spheres with cherry liqueur, Chocolate Truffle, and Macaron with Black Truffle and Foie Gras

If you have a chance to dine at Osteria Francescana, it is something that is an adventure into the culinary marvels. The overall course and experience is something I will cherish for a very long time.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

The Last Word Sundae

Hello, this is Joe from Measure and Stir, doing a guest post for johan on which we collaborated, which will also be cross-posted at my blog.

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This is not my first foray into the world of cocktail-inspired ice creams. My first was not up to snuff, and never made it to the web. My second was Mai Tai Soft Serve, which you may remember. Today, I am proud to share an ice cream Sundae inspired by one of my favorite classic cocktails, the Last Word. This drink is famous among cocktail enthusiasts, and as a Seattlite, it has a special place in my heart, since it was re-popularized in the modern cocktail renaissance by our very own Murray Stenson.

To make this ice cream sundae, we wanted to do something ambitious. It’s easy to get carried away when dealing with modernist techniques, and I think you will find that we did not exercise any restraint at all.

Just to review, the last word is a drink composed of equal parts:

The Last Word
3/4 oz London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice

The green Chartreuse is really the key to this drink, as it is the source of its unique flavor. Even so, the combination and the balance are such that every element is a first class citizen. We went through several iterations before we settled upon this arrangement. What is the right way to marry an ingredient to a preparation? I confess I do not have any formal method for making these decisions.

The base of an ice cream sundae is the ice cream, and for that reason, it seemed fitting to use the base spirit of the drink, which in this case is London dry gin. As I have noted before, actual spirits do not come through strongly when added to an ice cream base. We can achieve much more flavorful results by using the root flavors of the spirit, rather than the spirit itself. To make a London dry gin ice cream, we used a hint of gin, but we steeped coriander, orange peel, and juniper berries into the cream. I don’t have the exact ratio, but this will get you pretty close. Note that we use the same base recipe as in Johan’s licorice ice cream.

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London Dry Gin Ice Cream
650g Whole Milk
225g Sugar
200g Egg Yolks
150g Heavy Cream
50ml London Dry Gin

Before combining the ingredients to make the ice cream, infuse the milk with gin botanicals. In a pan, toast up 2 tbsp of coriander seeds and 2 tbsp of juniper berries, until the oil starts to bloom on the juniper. When the berries are shiny, drop all of the spices into the milk, and gently heat on a stovetop for fifteen minutes along with one fat orange peel, trimmed of pith.

A good ice cream sundae should contain many layers and textures. Moreover, the last word, although quite spiritous, is a citrus-driven drink. It needs to the acidity and the punch of fresh sour lime juice. To achieve this end, we made a lime juice curd using this lemon curd recipe from chefsteps, subbing lemon for lime, and omitting the gelatin. I cannot stress this last point enough. In our first attempt, we used the optional gelatin suggested in the recipe, and wound up with a disgusting congealed mass.

For the maraschino, we made a zabaione, which Johan called by some incomprehensible Norwegian (eggedosis) name that he will probably edit in here.

Maraschino Zabaione
3 Large Egg Yolks
100 ml Heavy Cream
Sugar and Marschino to Taste
Integrate using a mixer (or a whisk, if you want to work on those arms), and load into an iSi whipping cannister. Charge it up and shake it.

For the green chartreuse, we made a fluid gel. Modernist techniques often feel like solutions in search of a problem, but in this case, a chartreuse gel was exactly the thing. We adapted this recipe from chefsteps as well, substituting fresh orange juice with green chartreuse, and omitting the citric acid. The texture and mouthfeel was unusual, but it felt very at home in a sundae, filling in the same space where one might otherwise find chocolate fudge sauce.

At this point, we had all of the elements, and a variety of soft viscosities, but a sundae also needs crunch, contrast, and texture. To this end, we repeated some of the flavors, and expanded on others. Ice cream wants some kind of cookie or crumble, and we opted to use two.

The first was a cinnamon shortbread, which we crumbled up and used as the bottom layer. I used this recipe from Serious Eats

Cinnamon Shortbread
9 ounces (about 1 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus a little more for greasing the pan
3 1/2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
A healthy outpouring of ground cinnamon.

Don’t overmix the cinnamon in the shortbread, in order to create a marbled effect. I don’t know how much I used, but you’ll know it’s right when you see it. Cinnamon may seem like an odd addition to the dessert, but it complements and expands on the cinnamon flavor that is present in green chartreuse. It does not repeat perfectly, but it does rhyme.

The second cookie was a tuile, which also came from Serious Eats.

Tuile
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sifted cake flour
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

We integrated this, allowed it to cool, then spread it into a thin layer on a silpat using an offset spatula, and baked it at 175 C until it was just brown all over, about 12 minutes. For the final plating, we just shattered it into pieces.

In addition to cookie textures, we added a couple of soft and chewy elements. The first was dried sweetened pineapple, compressed with maraschino. To make this, we bought dried sweetened pineapple chunks in bulk from a supermarket, and compressed them in a chamber vac with a shot of Botanical Gin (Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin). The longer you leave them sealed in the bag, the softer they get. We let ours sit for about two hours before draining them. They kept in a jar for quite a while afterwards, and had the texture of soft gummy candy. We chose pineapple because it pairs wonderfully with lime, and green chartreuse, but in truth, any pineapple flavor was completely eclipsed by the strong botanical Gin.

Finally, we topped it with falooda seeds soaked in a mixture of London dry gin and water. These are popular in some asian and Indian desserts, and they have the amazing property that they will soak up any liquid in which they rest. They are sometimes colloquially called frogs eggs, but they have a similar texture to modernist caviar made with sodium alginate. Since they soaked up a little gin, they were the perfect vehicle to give a tiny boozy kick to the dessert, which was otherwise lacking.

The composition of the sundae was as follows, from bottom up, served in a Cocktail Glass:

  • Cinnamon Short Bread Crumbles
  • Lime Curd
  • London Dry Gin Ice Cream
  • Citrus Gin-Compressed Pineapple
  • Maraschino Zabaione
  • Green Chartreuse Fluid Gel
  • Tuile Shards
  • Gin-Soaked Falooda

This was a lot of work, but the result was something truly special.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!