December 27, 2010
Even though this video is about how to make my version of dessert sushi, it also shows you how to make my version of coconut rice cake and 5 different dessert sauces. Cramming this much information in a video is tough but it’s totally worth it!
Rice cake is a very common Asian dessert as is commonly seen on Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, and Indonesian menus. Typically it’s served warm with a warm coconut milk sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds and fresh mango slices. However, rice cake is a very simple dessert and adjusting it to your own tastes is extremely easy. In some ways, this rice cake qualifies as a master recipe.
The story behind my rice cake goes back to when I was a kid. My mother would make rice cake every once in a while and as I grew up and went to school for pastry I started to long for dessert that spoke truer to my background as well as desserts that were unique and different from the typical French pastry or cake. My mother, however, isn’t one to write down her recipes. Everything she makes is off the top of her head so when she told me how to make this recipe there were lots of… blank spaces. My first attempts I used the wrong kind of rice, not enough coconut milk, and baked it for the wrong lengths of time. It wasn’t until I was a junior or senior in college that I finally got the recipe right, at least for my tastes, and it eventually became my own.
Rice cake is extremely easy to make, the ingredients are readily available at most grocery stores (and most definitely at Asian or International markets), and is palatable for even the most pickiest eaters.
Rice cake uses a sweet sticky rice as opposed to the jasmine, basmati, or long grain rice most people are familiar with. I used to use jasmine rice to make the rice cake but it was dry and tough. Sweet sticky rice has a softer gummier texture and tastes way better, plus it lasts longer than jasmine rice as jasmine rice continues to just get drier and drier to the point where it would be suitable for building material. The rice needs to be soaked in water for at least 8 hours (up to 24 hours) before using to soften it up and make it more cooperative so plan accordingly.
The story behind my dessert sushi goes back to when I was working in Arizona at the Fairmont Scottsdale resort. As part of my co-op I was to create my own product using ingredients at the work site. Fairmont took it a step further, and all interns had to produce a 5 course meal based around a theme (the resort is tex-mex, but the three of us wanted to do Asian) and present it to a group of 30 chefs and sous chefs for critique. It was a little nerve wrecking to say the least and there were quite a bit of issues that came up. In the end the large meal never happened but the executive pastry chef (David Blom, nice guy) still let us finish our dessert for him to critique. I’m glad that he did because I learned a lot. The dessert sushi from back then is very different from the dessert sushi I’m presenting to you now. I made it again for my thesis project during my junior year of school and tweaked many of the recipes but even now I’m tweaking the recipe (in fact I tweaked it after I finished the video, you’ll have a better recipe available for download).
This recipe is not an easy or quick recipe by any means. Well, that’s not entirely true. The rice cake bakes for over 90 minutes and has to soak for at least 8 hours so that’s very time intensive but as for physical preparation by the cook it’s nearly effortless. Each individual sauce is fairly easy to make (creme anglais being the hardest, melba sauce being the easiest) and each individual sauce doesn’t really take much time to make (aside from steeping the lemongrass in the heavy cream for the ganache) but as a collective effort it takes a long time – especially cutting out each piece of sushi, filling it, and garnishing it. Don’t let that discourage you! If you can plan ahead of time, get a friend to help you, or even choose fewer sauces to make this dessert is not impossible. It’s totally worth it in the end and every time I make it my guests are wowed. If you were to ask me to put a time stamp on it I would say give yourself 3-4 hours to make it (10 minutes actual rice cake prep + 10-20 minutes per sauce and clean up of each sauce + 90-120 minutes making the actual sushi pieces). If you could get somebody to help you make the sauces, cut the pieces out, and fill them you could probably save an hour or two and at least you’d have somebody to keep you company : )
The biggest benefit of this recipe is to teach you 5 very common sauces used in plated desserts at restaurants and banquets. Ganache is a very common sauce but can be made into made different desserts depending on the cream to chocolate ratio. If you have more chocolate than cream it is a thick product and can actually be used to make truffles while a higher cream ratio is good for glazing and plating desserts. Compotes are fruit sauces with chunks of fresh fruit and are great for color and flavor – in general you can substitute almost any fruit you’d like for compotes making them very flexible. Caramel sauce is a really popular sauce, which is no surprise! It’s warm gooey flavor and texture is widely admired and goes great with chocolate desserts and other desserts like apple pie. It’s not as easy to customize but you can flavor it if you use ground spices and stir it in. Creme anglais is another popular sauce that is very much like a custard. It is the easiest to flavor using extracts, oils, and spices because the anglais itself doesn’t really have a flavor. Keep in mind though that it has a lot of fat in it so you need to make sure you put enough flavor in to compensate. Creme anglais is actually used as a base for ice cream – which is why I like to compare it to melted French vanilla ice cream!
Each sauce has a point where it can be altered and I’ll try to be general about it here. There is a more in depth description in the dessert sauces recipe (which includes all five sauces but not the rice cake) and each individual dessert sauce recipe. The dessert sushi does not include how to customize each sauce just for space reasons. For the full commentary be sure to download both recipes. First, any time you boil a liquid on the stove that’s a time you can infuse whole spices and herbs. It’s good to use whole spices and strain them out because sometimes when you use ground spices you get an unpleasant grittiness or texture
as well as a speckled appearance. Creme anglais is especially important to avoid using too much ground spice because it can change the appearance and texture dramatically.
The next point you can change the flavor is when you combine the liquid ingredients either before of after. If you want at this point you can use extracts, oils, and reduced liquids to add flavor. Always add oils and extracts AFTER boiling so you don’t boil out their flavor, but other liquids might benefit from being boiled since they will be further reduced. By reduced liquids I mean reduced juices and wines, and by reduced I mean boiled so they lose some of their water content. You don’t want to add a watery product to your sauce because it will just ruin your sauce and make it watery. To prevent watery sauces reduce any liquid flavorings you intend to use by boiling them and/or lower the measures of any liquid ingredients in your sauce – in the melba sauce you would want to use less simple syrup for example. You’ll want to avoid using citrus fruit juice in sauces with cream or milk in it as the citrus juice can sour or curdle the milk – gross! To get around this use the zest of the fruit and stir it right in. You can infuse the zest the same way you infuse whole spices if you’d like in order to avoid a speckled appearance, but if you leave the zest in you don’t need to infuse it.
The final point you can add flavor is at the end where you can stir in additional ingredients such as peanut butter, ground spices and herbs, and powdered flavorings. You can also stir in extracts and oils at this point as well.
Anyway, I think I’ve covered it all! Sorry this is such a long post but there’s so much to comment on! This is a great episode and a fun recipe. Here are the individual sauce recipes: Lemongrass Ganache recipe, Strawberry Mango Compote recipe, Wasabi Creme Anglais recipe, Spicy Peanut Caramel Sauce recipe, and the Black Currant Melba Sauce recipe. Each individual recipe includes tips on how to alter the recipe to make it your own. If you want all five dessert sauces recipes with tips on how to alter them you can download it here. Here is the rice cake recipe without the dessert sauces. Here is the dessert sushi recipe which includes the rice cake, all the dessert sauces (without tips on how to alter them), and instructions on how to make the final dessert. Remember if you want all the information you’ll want to download all five dessert sauces and the dessert sushi recipe. I hope it’s not too confusing. If it is just download them all : ) After all they are all free recipes!
Anyway, thank you so much for reading and watching the video below! Enjoy!