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Aetherflow – Autumn 2018
A traditional Ishgardian cake made up of several stacked layers tapered to resemble Sohm Al, a peak sacred to the Dravanians. Ishgardians believe that devouring the mountain will grant them fortune in their struggle with the dragons.
Sohm Al Tart consists of different types of cakes stacked ontop of each other. But have no fear, my fellow culinarian, you can easily prepare the tart in advance and keep the finished dessert refrigerated for about 2 days. This recipe is meant to serve about 6 people. If possible, use small tart tins with 8 cm diameters (approx. 3 inches), but if you have none available large muffin tins work as well.
For the shortcrust pastry you will need
190 g or 1 1/2 cup flour
60 g or 1/2 cup almond flour
60 g or 1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks (keep the egg whites!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
120 g or 1/2 cup soft butter Sponge cake (needs to be made on the same day the tart is baked)
60 g or 1/3 cup sugar
60 g or 1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium to large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
6 TB plum jam or puree
For the meringue you will need
2 large egg whites
100 g or 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch cream of tartar Whipped cream (needs to be made on same day dessert is assembled)
200 g or 1 2/3 cup whipping cream
4 TB confectioner’s sugar
1.5 tsp powdered (blooming) unflavored gelatin, easily dissolvable
4 tsp cold water
For the chestnut cream will need
200 g or 1 2/3 cup chestnut spread
200 g or 1 2/3 cup chestnut puree
2 TB pure maple syrup
2 TB whipping cream
For decoration you will need
Some icing sugar
Glazed chestnut (optional)
Shortcrust pastry is so simple and sweet. Mix everything together until it’s a dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before baking. Yes, it’s that easy! Easy to handle! Limited shrinking while baking! And you’re free to choose whatever ground nuts you have available. Allergic to hazelnut (like me)? Use almonds! Prefer a stronger taste? Why not go for walnuts! Or, just toss all kinds of nuts in. It’s your tart base, so you’re in full control of whatever nuts go inside. Okay, maybe don’t throw in one of your crazy FC mates, yes?
When you’re ready to bake, it’s time to literally whip up a sponge. It is highly recommended to use a stand mixer, if possible. Beat the eggs, vanilla and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Depending on temperature, humidity, and that persistent friend hovering around you while crafting, you might need up to 7 minutes to get your mixture to resemble the thick clouds that make you dream of the Sea of Clouds at sunset, only with less sunset. Sure, you can use a hand mixer, or if you’re especially muscular, even give it a go by beating the eggs by hand. You’ll just need a lot of patience. In any case, while you’re beating your eggs and sugar to a white fluff, you can start preheating your oven to approx. 170°C (~340°F).
Once your egg mixture is super fluffy, carefully sift the flour mix in and gently fold it into the batter, drawing a figure eight like Rofocale’s Trample. Just like the esper, make sure to show no mercy for players flour clumps getting in the way. Set your sponge dough aside; from now on, you should neither shake nor stir it, lest you want to get rid of your whipping masterpiece.
Take your dough out of the fridge (if frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge), roll it out to about 0.3 cm (approx. 0.1 inches) thickness and cut out circles large enough to cover the bottom and sides of your tart or muffin tins. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of plum jam or puree at the bottom. Cover with sponge dough and make sure to keep the jam welltucked beneath. The jam will become a strong flavor companion to the chestnut. If you prefer a stronger chestnut flavor, you can try applesauce or apple jam instead.
Bake the tart with the sponge dough and jam filling for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the sponge part comes out clean. Let cool completely. At this stage, you may wrap your cakes individually and store at a cool place for one day. I haven’t tried freezing them, but it shouldn’t be much of a problem – give me feedback if you do so!
On to the meringues, or as I like to call them – unicorn poop. Now, this specific type of poop comes in all shapes, colors and sizes, but this shouldn’t surprise you after all, as even unicorns need to have a balanced diet and can’t possibly be eating rainbows all day.
Meringues are simply egg whites and sugar, beaten to white tufts. Make sure to have both the bowl and your whisk clean and greasefree as this can impede the success of making them fluffy. Start nice and slowly by beating the egg whites until bubbles form. Slowly add the remaining ingredients and keep beating, beating, until the texture has become white and glossy.
The classic test for the fearless is to flip your bowl upside down. If it sticks, you’re done, if it’s running down, you’ll still need to keep on beating. Just don’t hate me if you flip your bowl and the entire egg white mixture lands on your kitchen counter.
When you’re done, fill the meringue into a piping bag or freezer bag. Snip the tip off with a pair of scissors. The more you snip off the tip, the larger your meringue swirls become. So don’t be afraid to snip the tip off generously. Please remember: Unicorn poop comes in all shapes and sizes.
So just pipe those meringue swirls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, or, if you have, use a silicone macaron baking mat. You can either elegantly pipe a swirl in gentle circular motions or just brutally squeeze out a heap. They don’t have to be beautiful. Just let them happen. The diameter of your meringues should not exceed the diameter of your tart (approx. 7 cm). If you want to be super precise, feel free to draw circles on your wax paper with a pencil, but, as I mentioned earlier – nobody will be looking at them anyway, they’ll be busy eating it. Bake your unicorn poop at 100°C (~212°F) for about an hour, until they can be easily removed from the wax paper/ silicone mat. Store the meringues in an airtight container. This way, they can be kept for several days.
The classic test for the fearless is to flip your bowl upside down. If it sticks, you’re done, if it’s running down, you’ll still need to keep on beating.
On the day you intend to serve your dessert (or the day before), it’s time to make the whipped cream and chestnut cream. Now obviously you can use store-bought whipped cream, however, they usually are made to stay fluffy. Our whipped cream needs to become slightly dense to be able to hold the weight of the chestnut vermicelli you will be piping around it. To achieve this, we will be using gelatine. Put the powdered gelatine in a small bowl and add in the water. Let sit for about 5 minutes to let it bloom. Microwave at approx. 750 W for 10 seconds, until the mixture is hot and the gelatine has melted. Do not bring to a boil!
While it is cooling down, it’s time to whip up some cream. Start by whipping the cream until it slightly thickens. Slowly add icing sugar and keep on beating the life out of your cream until it starts to become firm. Take out 2 tablespoons of your cream and stir it into the gelatine. Slowly add the gelatine cream mix back and keep on beating until your cream has become very firm and can be piped. Fill the cream into a piping bag/ freezer bag and snip off the tip again. Just like with the meringue, you can make the tip large, which makes it easier to squeeze out the cream.
Take out your precious tarts and pipe a happy little dollop in the center. Stick your unicorn poop on it and then pipe a layer of cream all around it until it’s completely covered up. Just imagine, the meringue is feeling all cold and naked, and you’re giving it a nice cream coat to keep it warm before putting it in the fridge to harden up a little. Note that once your meringues come into contact with the cream, they will dissolve!
While this is the consistency you need when eating the tart, it also means you shouldn’t spend too much time recreating famous mountain peaks in detail. Though, on second thought, why not? While the cream is setting in the fridge, simply mix the ingredients for your chestnut cream together. Just keep on mixing and stirring until you have a smooth paste. If you’re serving adults, you can substitute the maple syrup for rum or whiskey.
Fill the chestnut cream into a piping bag/ freezer bag and make sure there are no air bubbles inside by poking the cream with a spoon. Snip of only a small tip. It has to be fairly small so you can pipe all the intricate vermicelli around your cream mountain. Just keep piping all around the pile of cream until it’s decently covered. Chestnut has a very strong flavor even if you used plum jam to balance it, you still should carefully consider the amount of chestnut cream. You don’t want to overpower all the other flavors that should equally contribute to this tart composition. Keep the finished tarts in the fridge.
When it’s time to serve your guests, dust the tart with icing sugar. If you feel especially decorative, you can put a glazed chestnut on the top for decoration.