(This article appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
This composed dessert puts the spotlight on a classic collaboration of blueberries and corn, along with a fun play on Ché Bap, a traditional sweet corn pudding consisting of corn, sweet coconut milk and glutinous rice, garnished with sesame seeds.
My thought process was to take this traditional Vietnamese pudding apart and put it back together in a totally fun way. The main component on the plate is a baked corn custard cake. Corn is utilized as a base in the baked corn custard, and it also lends lots of flavor to the sauce – a thick coconut-corn soup – and in another key element: fresh kernels sautéed in brown butter.
Blueberries add a little tartness to cut through the sweetness and richness of the baked custard and soup. I always need texture in my desserts, so I added a crunchy rice-sesame seed tuilè. The tuilè plays the role of the glutinous rice that would be in the traditional Ché Bap.
Yield: 12 servings
Corn Custard Cake
- 624 g coconut milk
- 425 g fresh corn kernels
- 200 g sweetened condensed milk
- 128 g all-purpose flour
- 300 g granulated sugar
- 3 whole eggs
- 42 g unsalted butter, melted
- Put coconut milk and corn in blender and blend well. Strain.
- Place strained corn liquid back in blender with remaining ingredients and blend. Pour into a half-hotel pan that has been sprayed and lined with parchment paper. Bake cake at 400˚F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. To avoid over-browning, you can place a sheet of foil on top of the cake during last 20 minutes of baking. Once baked, it is best to set for in refrigerator for one full day.
- Cut with round cutters as if you were cutting donuts. (This will yield 12 portions if you slice the edges to make it flat and level.)
Coconut Corn Soup
- Vegetable oil
- 5 ears corn, corn kernels cut off cobs and cobs cut in half
- 4 (14-oz) cans coconut cream
- Salt, to taste
- 100 g granulated sugar
- Heat some vegetable oil in a large pot and add the corn cob halves. Sauté until browned. Add the corn kernels and sauté a little longer. Add a third of the coconut cream and continue to cook over medium heat. After 10 minutes, add another third of the coconut cream and continue to cook. After another 10 minutes, add the remaining coconut cream. Add salt to taste, then add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Let cool.
- Remove the cobs and squeeze as much liquid as possible from them, adding the liquid to the soup. Discard the cobs. Put the soup mixture into a blender and blend well. Strain, squeezing out as much liquid as possible from the solids.
- 59 ml simple syrup
- 1 pt blueberries, stems removed
- Heat simple syrup up in a sauté pan. Add the berries and sauté quickly (you don’t want to cook the berries, you just want to coat them with sugar).
- Pour into a half sheet pan and refrigerate.
Brown Butter Corn
- 42 g unsalted butter
- Kernels from 2 ears corn
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- Brown the butter in a pan, then add the corn. Sauté lightly, until corn kernels are coated in brown butter. Spread onto sheet pan, spinkle with salt and let cool.
Rice Cracker Tuiles
- 250 g cooked white rice
- Water, as needed
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Sugar and salt, to taste
- Process rice in blender with just enough water to make a thick paste (don’t add too much water).
Spread onto a Silpat and dehydrate overnight OR wrap plate in plastic wrap and microwave paste for 2 minutes, until dried out.
- Break into shards and fry in oil until crisp. Place on paper towels and sprinkle with sugar and salt.
- Sugar, for brûléeing
- Toasted black and white sesame seeds
- Cilantro leaves
- Dip the top of a custard cake in sugar and brulee. Quickly sprinkle salt and toasted black and white sesame seeds on top.
- Place the bruléed custard cake in the center of a round plate. Place a few Sugared Blueberries in the center of the cake and in 3 spots around the cake. Place a few kernels of Brown Butter Corn next to the blueberries. Place a few cilantro leaves next to the berries. Arrange 4 small pieces of Rice Cracker Tuiles around the custard cake, near the fruit. Spoon 1-½ to 2 Tbs of the Coconut Corn Soup in the center of the custard cake to cover the blueberries. Serve immediately.
Photo Credit JM Leach