Introduction: Cherry Blossom Parfait

About: Polymath and idiot. Mostly idiot.

Hanami is the Japanese custom of having a picnic under a blooming cherry tree. There are over 200 varieties of Japanese cherry blossom trees with different blooming periods, even in the winter, and the Japanese Meteorological Agency reports about the current blooming areas. If you have a blooming cherry tree in your area, also called sakura, then you can make a very tasty dessert or snack from it. What you need:

  • 250 ml single cream
  • 50g sugar
  • 40 ml cherry liqueur
  • 40 ml cherry syrup
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20 sweet pickled cherry blossoms

How to make:

cherry liqueur

cherry syrup

pickled leaves

Step 1: Collecting Blossoms

First we need to collect some cherry blossoms from a blooming tree (you should make sure it wasn't treated with an insecticide or similar). If there are no sakura trees near your home you can try the recipe with other edible flowers. Collect the flowers with the stems so they do not fall apart. Also add some leaves for decoration. As you probably cannot weigh the flowers while you are collecting, fill a shopping bag without pressing them together and you should be fine.

Wash the flowers, because you don't want resin, insects or dust in your food. Some of the petals are probably already falling off, take these and dry them on kitchen paper.

Step 2: Cherry Liqueur

You need a glass bottle to contain and a jar to mature the liqueur. Take the least flavoured vodka or schnapps that you have. If you don't own any, then buy the cheapest booze in your local supermarket. The cheaper, the more flavour we can add to the water with alcohol. Take rock candy because you want the sugar to dissolve as slow as possible in the mixture.

  • 8g cherry blossom petals
  • 100ml clear vodka/schnapps
  • 21g rock candy
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice

Just fill everything into a clean preserving jar and store in a cold and dark place.

Step 3: Maturing the Liqueur

The sugar should be dissolved after 2 days, but if you got the time you can let this mature for many weeks or even for next year. In the secound picture you can see a big green glass ball that I have put into the jar to press the petals down. Later in this instructable I will show you the last step how to get the liqueur filtered and gain this wonderful colour.

Step 4: Blanching the Leaves

Pickled cherry leaves are used in many Japanese desserts, either as ingredient or as a wrapper. You need circa 20 leaves for our parfaits and have to blanch them first. Fill a bowl with ice water, either with ice cubes or just a cold pack. Bring some water to the boil and put the leaves in for some secounds. You should see how the green colours brighten up and then pick the leaves out, right into the bowl with ice water. Then pick them out again and dry them on some kitchen paper.

Step 5: Pickling the Leaves

If you don't have a tsukemono press then prepare a flat container with a fitting weight to hold the leaves down in the brine. Make a 10% brine with 50ml water and 5 grams of salt. If you want to preserve more leaves for other desserts throughout the year the rule of thumb is 2 spoons of salt in 4 spoons of water for every 50 grams of leaves.

Stack the leaves, sprinkle some white balsamic over them and fix them on the ground with a weight. Then store them for 2 days in the fridge. After that either drain and desalinate them for usage or to freeze them in a ziplock.

Step 6: Wagashi Sakura Jelly

This step is not needed for the recipe!

Here is another little dessert you can also prepare or just use as decoration for your parfaits. Put some cherry blossoms into a mold and fill it with a jelly. Press the stems down with a weight and let it cool down in the fridge. Looks tasty and fresh.

Step 7: Sweet Pickling the Blossoms

Take the cherry blossoms and put them in a ziplock. Add lemon juice and sugar to the blossoms in a ratio 1:1:2, so for every 2 grams of blossoms you add 1 gram of lemon juice and 1 gram of sugar. We need 40ml of cherry syrup that means we need 80 grams of cherry blossoms. Close the plastic bag and put it for 5 minutes into hot water, not boiling water. Then store the bag also in the fridge.

Step 8: Salty Pickling the Blossoms

This step is not needed for the recipe!

For many other Japanese desserts for example mochis, you should also consider to pickle some of the blossoms in a brine. Usually this is done with ume-su, which means plum vinegar although it is juice from unripe umeboshi fruits. But you can also do this with a brine. Take 10 grams of cherry blossoms, add 6 grams of salt and 20 grams of water. Put them into the fridge for 2 days. Then drain and dry them.

Step 9: Preparing the Ingredients

After 2 days all your ingredients should be ready. Take the sweet pickled blossoms and sift them, collecting the cherry syrup in a bowl. Use a sharp kitchen knife to mince the flower petals, remove the stems if you want. Then sift the alcohol pickled blossoms and collect the cherry liqueur in another bowl. Throw the petals away after you squashed them in the sifter, they released most of their aroma into the liqueur.

Step 10: Separating the Eggs

Now you should have everything prepared.

  • 250 ml single cream
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 40 ml cherry liqueur
  • 40 ml cherry syrup
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20 sweet pickled cherry blossoms

Separate the 3 eggs from the yolks and put the yolks into a bain marie. If you don't have a separator for the eggs, catch the yolk with a half of the eggshell.

Step 11: Whisking the Eggs

Add the 50 grams sugar while you heat the bain marie at medium heat. While whisking the mixture foamy, add the cherry liqueur, the syrup and the petals by the spoonful. Once it is foamy, remove from the heat and let it cool down.

Step 12: Merger

Whip the 250 grams of cream almost stiff to the point that it still runs off from your beater. After your eggs are cooled down, whisk them again because some of the egg yolk separated. Now merge the whisked eggs and the whipped cream carefully with a spatula. Fill the mixture in your preferred mould and place over night in the freezer.

Step 13: Finalise

Take the cherry leaves out of your tsukemono and wash them in a bowl with water to desalinate and make them fit for consumption. Meanwhile take the frozen parfaits out of your freezer. Wrap the leaves around your parfaits, use some decorations and serve to your guests. Enjoy the compliments!

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Snacks Contest 2017

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