On one fateful evening, I attempted to combine Chudleigh's too-sweet Apple Cider with the last bottle of flavoured soju in my inventory. Several encounters later, I learned that soju wasn't my cup of tea. But since I still had a few bottles on hand, it was only reasonable to deplete them in the least painful way possible.
"It feels like something wants to come up." I reported to a soju-acquainted friend.
"Yeah that sounds like soju." He replied knowingly.
Well, soju was banned from that point. I'll happily be returning to my beer roots.
My body expressed reluctance to venture past warm broths, but I managed to digest the seasonal offering of Pumpkin Spice before rolling up the rim. It was surprisingly delicious. The other flavours of Icing Sugar, Cinnamon Sugar, and Chocolate had been reserved for the next day, though were ultimately disposed as staleness prevailed.
Unveiling the Provolone Hawaiian, we were admittedly disappointed at the comparatively scanty toppings versus the Deluxe. Pineapples were barely observed on its surface. The cheese, appearing (and tasting) more cheddar-like than mozzarella, was present throughout; the same could be said in regards to the ham and bacon, which were savoury and crisp to touch. It was merely a shame that pineapple chunks had been so deficient, for the sweet, acidic notes would have been stellar at offsetting the otherwise severely savoury profile.
The Rigatoni was, hands down, the worst item of the spread. While promising in visuals, it was repulsive in taste. The noodles were stiff and starchy, the sauce emitting a synthetic sourness (yes, sour, not tart), and the entirety of the sampled spoonful clumped together.
In the absence of frozen raspberries, I opted for a frozen medley of blueberries, cherries, and raspberries instead. The bag's contents had been oddly soft even after residing the freezer for over 8 hours. Formed into a jam using my breadmaker recipe, the violently violet emulsion was left to set in the fridge overnight. Only 1.5 tbsp of gelatin was used, as the mixture would be further thickened later on.
Black Sesame Joconde was a sturdy layer radiating crunch and optimal nuttiness. With its high proportion of ground almonds and aromatic boost of toasted black sesame seeds, the cake rose minimally but offered complexity and textural interest. This base layer was cut to fit a 7.5-inch springform pan.
Separately, in an adjustable 6-inch aluminum ring, I prepared a mixed berry gelée layer using the specified amounts for purée (140 g) and gelatin (2-3 g). Lemon juice and sugar were omitted, for the jam contained those ingredients already. While the gelée solidified, I commenced on the black sesame mousse - arguably the most critical cake layer.
To compensate for height, as the "Zen stone" in Sunday's recipe was much more compact than the standard cake, I constructed a vanilla sponge for good measure. This cake was softer than the joconde and extremely delicate. Slicing and handling the layer demanded a tremendous amount of care, and even I could not escape its premature tearing in spite of working conservatively.
I transferred the cake to set in the refrigerator while entertaining a black sesame ganache. This final element was sourced from the fourth search result on YouTube.
Supposedly, the ganache could be poured on top of the cake and allowed to set. After one hour of chilling, I attempted to remove the cake from the springform. Having forgotten that ganache ought be used after complete solidification, I returned the cake and its jiggly mousse goodness back to the fridge and covered the ganache with cling film. The formula would instead be reheated at a later point in time and piped atop in amateur-ish swirls. An immediate reflection of my piping skills, the dark grey fixtures were far from attractive. Edible silver glitter managed to save the day.
- Baskin Robbins for their 31% off 31st promotion, plus sampling of their seasonal "Spicy 'n Spooky" flavour
- Miniso for the browsing of adorable (yet utterly unnecessary) household items
- UNIQLO for fashionable fall-winter transitional picks
- Sephora for in-store investigations