How to include cherry blossoms in your desserts
Cherry blossoms have been a vital part of Japanese culture for centuries. The blooming of cherry trees is a sign that spring has arrived and a cause for both celebration and reflective viewing – a practice called “hanami.” Since Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki presented Washington, D.C. with 3,000 cherry trees as a gift in 1912, the U.S. capital has also welcomed the short-lived flowers with an annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.
For students in the baking and pastry arts, cherry blossoms can make a beautiful addition to your dessert creations, adding a subtly intriguing flavor. Thomas Raquel, executive pastry chef at Le Bernardin in New York City, told Nation’s Restaurant News that he planned to feature the petals in his dishes for spring 2018. If you would also like to explore the possibilities of using cherry blossoms as a uniquely distinctive ingredient, try one of these recipes:
Add a special touch to a princess cake
“Princess cakes are classic Swedish desserts.”
Princess cakes are classic Swedish desserts featuring layers of sponge cake and cream, plus a marzipan topping. Martha Stewart Weddings suggested bringing an additional romantic touch to this delightful combination by including cherry blossoms.
The recipe calls for whisking cake flour with almond flour and salt and setting the mixture aside. In a heatproof mixer bowl, warm six eggs, plus four additional yolks and sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, and then place the bowl in the mixer.
Whisk at medium speed for two minutes, and then at high for another four or five minutes. Sift the flour mixture into the bowl and fold in until it’s mostly incorporated. Slowly add melted butter as you finish combining the mixtures.
Split the batter between three rimmed baking sheets that are coated with non-stick spray, lined with parchment paper and then sprayed again. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes, or until the cakes are springy and golden brown. Place the sheets on a wire rack to cool.
Add a teaspoon of powdered gelatin two a bowl with two tablespoons of heavy cream. Bring a quarter cup of the cream to a boil and pour it over the gelatin. After 30 seconds, whisk the gelatin until it dissolves, and then pour the mixture into another two cups of cream. Drop in rose-pink food coloring and transfer the cream into a cold bowl, whisking until stiff peaks develop.
Set a layer of cake in a ring on top of a cardboard circle. Brush on a mixture of simple syrup and cherry brandy. Cover the cake with a layer of cherry preserves, followed by a half cup of whipped cream.
Add the second layer of cake, covering with syrup and pastry cream. Press on the final layer and coat with syrup before filling the ring with whipped cream. Refrigerate the cake for several hours.
Roll out fondant and place it over the cake, creating a dome. Trim the edges and refrigerate for up to an hour before serving. Just before bringing out the cake, put on the finishing touch by covering with both plain and sugared cherry blossoms.
A perfect pairing
For a refreshing, seasonal dessert, HGTV suggested enjoying a cherry blossom tea granita with a vanilla panna cotta. The recipe came from pastry chef Caitlin Dysart of 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia, who provided the treat as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
To prepare the granita, mix cherry blossom tea with sugar and hot water. Cover and allow to steep for five minutes. Strain before adding half and half and rose water. Move to the freezer, stirring with a fork every half an hour, until you achieve a pleasantly slushy texture. Serve on top of the panna cotta.