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Friday, June 27, 2014

Presenting "The Spice Baron" - Mango Saffron Custard, Candied Meyer Lemon, Cardamom Crumb and Ginger Meringue in a Golden Grahams Tart Crust

The Spice Baron
Mango Saffron Custard, Candied Meyer Lemon, Cardamom Crumb and Ginger Meringue in a Golden Grahams Tart Crust
Baked 06.27.14

Overhead of plated Spice Baron

Meyer Lemon / Mango / Saffron / Cardamom / Ginger

Requested by

Do I start at the top or the bottom?

Last night I had a nightmare that I was being chased by an angry horde of saffron threads. I only wish I were joking. They were small in number, but they were strong.

"Is this saffron which I smell before me?"

I've learned my lesson. A little saffron goes a long way.

In retrospect, with all of these assertively aromatic spices, I'm starting to think the original ingredients list may have been a bit of a prank. My taste buds have been on overdrive for the last five days, and I'm increasingly tormented by phantom odors of saffron and cardamom. Either the Spice Baron is truly living up to its name, or I have been suffering a series of mini-strokes.

From the outset, I knew I wanted this week's creation to be a plated dessert. Fun for presentation - not suitable for delivery via the NYC public transit system.

A plated dessert meant a lot of components. The goal was to keep all of the flavors unified, but not monotonous, and to achieve a balance of smooth and crunchy textures.  Here's where I landed...

Final Components:
  • Golden Grahams Crust - For the tart shell, I adapted the chocolate pate sucree recipe from the Raspberry Midnight. Golden Grahams take the place of the cocoa powder. The result is amazing... easily my favorite part of this dessert.
  • Mango Saffron Custard - The primary base of the tart is a mango custard that has been infused with saffron. The mango custard was challenging because the natural enzymes in raw mango (and many other tropical fruits like pineapple, kiwi and even root ginger) impede the process by which some custards set. In the end, I was able to get the custard to set by first cooking the mango (which denatures the enzymes). As for the saffron, the recipe-of-record will definitely call for a lighter hand with those potent threads!
  • Candied Meyer Lemon - A single candied meyer lemon rests upon the mango saffron custard providing a tart offset to the general sweetness of the mango.
  • Cardamom Crumb - A textural element to help balance the smooth textures elsewhere in the tart, this crunchy mix of freshly ground green cardamom, butter, brown sugar and a little flour became a go-to snack during the plating process. 
  • Ginger Meringue - Devil! This component was challenging. Just as custard and mango are a tricky mix, it would seem that freshly ground ginger destabilizes meringue after several minutes. It tastes great, but this component is truly an a la minute preparation best omitted if you are not planning to serve the tarts immediately. 
  • Sesame Ginger Tuile - One last touch of crunch (and some visual height), this time as a sweet, buttery wafer.

- The Finished Product -

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