Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summery Cakes from Sadaharu Aoki

Sadaharu Aoki's patisserie always gets top marks for style, and the Valencia is no exception. The eye-catching decoration, three paper-thin slices of candied kumquat captured in a hardened-syrup web, is only the start. That citrusy wheel is sunk in a citrusy mousse flecked with orange peel, which tops a layer of chocolate cake. Then there's milk chocolate mousse, a thin but assertive smear of caramel-nut praline, and the flaky, crunchy almond millefeuille crust. It's a surprising combination of textures, but they give the tried and true flavor combination - orange, chocolate, and almond - a new vibrance, as each texture makes you think about the flavor itself as if for the first time.
This is Bamboo, Sadaharu Aoki's famous breakaway cake, a confection alternatively known as Opera The Vert. It's a riff on the classic European gateau opera using powdered green tea (matcha) instead of coffee as the beverage-inspired flavor base. And it's fantastic. You wouldn't guess that green tea would be such a natural partner for chocolate, but they work incredibly well together. The cake is a simple stack-up of alternating layers of green tea cake (brushed with a syrup that contains just a tingling whisper of some kind of alcohol), chocolate ganache, and matcha buttercream.

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