Tuesday, February 12, 2008

 

Cherry Blossom Frosting

Isao decided that we should eat matcha and chocolate cupcakes with cherry blossom frosting for dessert. I thought that it was still too early for anything cherry blossom related, but he and my mother quickly corrected me; winter is over in Japan and spring has started. It's time to think more optimistically.

How does one make cherry blossom frosting? Isao is an artist in the kitchen, which is to say that he doesn't use recipes; he follows and trusts his imagination. He just "felt" that his recipe would work.



First we opened a packet of pickled cherry blossoms--this is normally used to make a kind of tea.



I kept rinsing the blossoms until he told me that I should stop. (How did he know when they were clean enough? He just did. He's also one of those people who taps things to see if they are done cooking.)




I whipped some heavy cream with a little sugar, and after it "stood," I separated the blossoms and put them in. We decided that the frosting didn't really look all that appetizing, so I added a little bit of food coloring to give it a soft pink hue.



The cupcake itself was actually straightforward; just matcha powder and cocoa. You could probably alter your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe by adding half the cocoa power amount, and substituting matcha instead, though the result wouldn't be quite as sweet. Then again, Isao says that most American desserts are too sweet and lack subtlety.

What's does cherry blossom frosting taste like? Nothing, actually. That's because cherry blossoms aren't a flavor, but an aroma. Think about other elusive ingredients--saffron, anise. They don't actually "taste" like anything--they just have an effect on you and you have to concentrate to appreciate them and find them in your mouth. I think as a child, I would have missed the entire point. As an adult, it's been a revelation to realize that food works on more than an immediately sensory level and this makes me happy. There should be things we can experience as adults that we would miss as kids. A number of people felt the same way, I think, because they later told me that the cupcake was their favorite part of the meal.

Nothing makes me gain weight like whipped cream, though, so I'm off to as many dance classes this week as I can take.

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