Saturday, January 27, 2007

Frédéric Bau's Nippon

We visited Tokyo over the New Year. As always, we had a fantastic time. There are many many reasons I love this city, not least of which is the abundance of amazing pâtisserie every corner you turn. Aside from the opportunity to revisit favourites, there's the assurance that there's always something new and exciting awaiting discovery.

While I didn't bring my camera with me and sadly have no pictures to share, I did bring back a suitcase full of edible treats. And of course, a yen for more of that distinctive Japanese-French style of pâtisserie, in anticipation of which I had dutifully shelled out a princely sum for less than an ounce of matcha.

Not for ceremonial tea - being gaijin (excuse the political incorrectness), of course, I'm not hardwired to appreciate the intricacies of the tea ceremony and probably can never hope to. But for use in a dessert or two - I would like to imagine that I have a growing appreciation of matcha's many uses in the sweet kitchen.

I had a bit of a tough time deciding what to lavish my precious jade-coloured cargo on. For weeks now, I toyed variously with the idea of churning it into an ice cream, using it to flavour crème pâtissière as a filling for éclairs, mixing it into a financier or madeleine or macaron batter...foolproof, tried-and-tested recipes I knew would be simple, straightforward and scrumptious.

But expectedly, impulse ruled the day. As I was flipping through Chocolate Fusion by Frédéric Bau (an exquisite book I'd briefly mentioned here) for an entirely different purpose, I was immediately sidetracked by Nippon, the maestro's very elegant homage to his second homeland, serendipitously symbolic of the Hinomaru. Even more appealing was that the dessert is a composed number - the vividly green apperance may suggest that matcha plays a dominant flavour role, but it is in fact rather subtly used to harmonise with a number of other flavours.

Hemispheres of delicate milk chocolate parfait are coated in a thin shell of white chocolate, the potential sweet cloyingness of which is tempered by the grassy, pleasantly bitter flavour of pulverized first harvest tea buds. Fragrant, crunchy toasted sesame seeds are sprinkled on before the matcha-white chocolate mixture gets a chance to crystallize.

To assemble, two hemispheres of the frozen parfait dipped in matcha chocolate are adhered on either side of a crisp sheet of chocolate tuile in such a fashion that the set-up will stand upright. And to serve, some warmed lychees cooked in ginger caramel.

As for the eating? Put it this way, it was unfortunate that the recipe didn't leave very much matcha left over, because if it did, I know exactly which recipe I would be headed for next - exactly the same.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Danielle said...

Absolutely gorgeous, as always. I love all the different textures in these shots, and those lovely earthy colors.

5:53 am, January 27, 2007  
Anonymous L said...

So, so beautiful! And love the idea of the warmed lychees in ginger caramael on the side. Oh my!

Thanks for sharing!

8:20 am, January 27, 2007  
Blogger Anita said...

Only you could make such a surrealist fantasy of a dessert so flawlessly! I love the vibrancy of the green...

1:09 pm, January 27, 2007  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Positively amazing! If only I were as talented as you are at making such desserts - this is too beautiful for words!

5:46 pm, January 27, 2007  
Anonymous veron said...

such thing of beauty! It's almost too pretty to eat.

8:20 am, January 28, 2007  
Blogger Deniz Taskin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:34 pm, January 28, 2007  
Blogger sofia said...

absolutely beautiful. i think someone should be getting you more matcha...=)

12:42 pm, January 28, 2007  
Blogger ParisBreakfasts said...

I love this green sculpture!
Supremely wacky too.
Hard to believe it's etible...

10:27 pm, January 28, 2007  
Blogger Krithika said...

gorgeous !! love that color

5:36 am, January 30, 2007  
Anonymous Tim said...

Very creative and very beautiful and I am sure, very edible!

9:37 am, January 30, 2007  
Anonymous keiko said...

Dear Joycelyn - this is one of the most exquisite desserts I've ever seen - I never thought I'd see that beautiful hinomaru :) The flavour combination sounds so intriguing, and the crockery is absolutely gorgeous of course ;) I'll make sure I'll enclose some matcha in the next package, thank you for being such an inspiration as always.

5:17 am, January 31, 2007  
Blogger Shinie said...

Thanks for sharing all of your adventures and ideas!

5:32 am, January 31, 2007  
Anonymous jeanne bee said...

what an interestingly constructed delight--and the flavour combination...hmmm...

11:56 am, January 31, 2007  
Anonymous joey said...

Everything you make is an inspiration :) That's both beautiful and edgy...I love it!

10:32 pm, January 31, 2007  
Anonymous amina ahmed said...

as usual, just reading your blog par excellence has left me feeling satiated...for now ;).

your devoted fan,

amina ahmed.

2:08 am, February 01, 2007  
Blogger shaz said...

excellent stuff. I wowed over.

11:50 pm, February 02, 2007  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

That colour is extradordinary... I am tasting that matcha flavour just looking at it.

7:31 pm, February 03, 2007  
Anonymous rob said...

Joycelyn, what's not to love about this dessert? The presentation is exceptional (that green just pops) and the flavours are complex and complementary. The ginger caramel is a beautiful finishing touch.

11:47 pm, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Marieke said...

This is unlike anything I have eer seen before....it's in a different categorie...stunning pictures

12:02 am, February 10, 2007  
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9:11 am, February 11, 2007  
Blogger Pirikara said...

Wow, that's a really cool looking dessert!

4:58 pm, February 11, 2007  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

Dazzling! I am breathless. This is cha do.

10:55 am, February 14, 2007  
Blogger rachel said...

those pictures are so gorgeous! I don't even know what I'm looking at because I keep getting distracted by them when I try to read :)

12:38 pm, February 14, 2007  
Blogger Jeanne said...

I am just dumbstruck by your brilliance. To have the audiacity to even attempt this sculptural creation is just so beyond my culinary capabilities! And what truly gorgeous photos. I'd be happy with just the lychees with ginger caramel ;-) Stunning.

10:06 pm, February 14, 2007  
Blogger Pille said...

I doubt I ever progress much beyond my matcha loaf (though delicious) and maybe matcha ice cream and/or panna cotta. But your sculpted (using Jeanne's word here) creation is truly inspiring, Joycelyn!

4:54 pm, March 07, 2007  
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