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Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts

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Overview

When it comes to Asian desserts, most Americans think of fortune cookies. But, in fact, the Far East is home to a dazzling array of sweets rich with tropical fruits, crunchy nuts, aromatic spices, and, yes, even chocolate.

In The Sweet Spot, renowned pastry chef Pichet Ong presents a collection of one hundred recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, puddings, ice creams, candies, and more. There are traditional Asian desserts with innovative twists, such as Sesame Balls, Mango ...

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Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts

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Overview

When it comes to Asian desserts, most Americans think of fortune cookies. But, in fact, the Far East is home to a dazzling array of sweets rich with tropical fruits, crunchy nuts, aromatic spices, and, yes, even chocolate.

In The Sweet Spot, renowned pastry chef Pichet Ong presents a collection of one hundred recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, puddings, ice creams, candies, and more. There are traditional Asian desserts with innovative twists, such as Sesame Balls, Mango Sticky Rice, and Almond Tofu, and classic American favorites, like Spiced Coconut Brownies, Banana Cream Pie, and Cream Puffs, livened up with Asian ingredients and cooking techniques.

Eschewing the heavy use of butter and sugar, Ong instead highlights the vibrant flavors of Asia—jasmine, lychee, orange blossom water, passion fruit, yuzu, mangosteen, and sesame, to name just a few. And despite the complexity of flavors and textures, all of the recipes are easy enough to make in home kitchens, requiring minimal effort for maximum results. Dazzle dinner-party guests with elegant showstoppers—Thai Tea White Chocolate Tart, Coconut Cream Pie with Toasted Jasmine Rice Crust—or delight the family with simple weeknight treats—Pomegranate Sherbet, Ginger Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

The Sweet Spot includes lush color photographs of almost all of the finished dishes, and a foreword from legendary restaurateur and chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Savory Asian cuisine has been popular in America for years. Now it's time to embrace the enticing range of exotic desserts.

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Editorial Reviews

Sherry Yard
“An original must have dessert book!”
Bobby Flay
“Pichet covers the Asian dessert idiom...”
Maida Heatter
“You will be thrilled whenever you make any of these wonderful, super-delicious, desserts.”
Emily Luchetti
“Pichet brings his Asian roots and sensibility to create incredible desserts that are both comforting and refreshing...”
Melissa Clark
“A must-have for avid pastry makers. The recipes are clever, intriguing, and utterly original - just like Pichet.”
Susanna Foo
“An amazing debut from a leading authority and innovator. Pichet demystifies Asian desserts and excites us with updated classics. Bravo!”
Nancy Silverton
“Pichet manages to brilliantly realize the grand potential of combining eastern and western cuisine.”
O magazine
“...filled with recipes that are at once innovative and comforting.”
New York Times Book Review
“A standout and one of the most original dessert books in years...”
O Magazine
"...filled with recipes that are at once innovative and comforting."
New York Times Book Review
“A standout and one of the most original dessert books in years...”
O magazine
“...filled with recipes that are at once innovative and comforting.”
Publishers Weekly

Finding a compilation of Asian-inspired desserts isn't always an easy task, as baking sections tend to be chockfull of Italian and French influenced titles. The good news is Ong (owner of NYC's P*ong) presents more than 100 accessible, top-notch recipes inspired from such countries as Japan (Honey Castella, or kasutera), China (Peanut Turnovers) and India (Pistachio Rose Thumbprint Cookies). Popular desserts from New York's famed Spice Market (where Ong has consulted)— Chocolate and Vietnamese Coffee Tart and Jasmine Rice Pudding—lend themselves to frequent repetition. Twists on American favorites such as the Cracker Jack–like Spiced Caramel Popcorn made with mukawa(Indian candied fennel seed) and Coconut "Twinkie" Cupcakes with Lemon Filling are presented alongside adaptations of recipes from renowned pastry chefs and include Dragon Devil's Food Cupcakes (Elizabeth Falkner) and Chocolate-Mango Cheesecake Parfait with Macadamia Cookie Crumbs (Vicki Wells). Those unfamiliar with Asian ingredients can read up on everything from mochi flour to mangosteens in the Sweet Asian Pantry chapter. Recipe steps are numbered, and each selection includes a chef's tip—where to find ingredients, technique advice, cultural notes. A sleek design with color photos makes this a visual treat as well as a culinary one. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060857677
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/22/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,407,638
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Pichet Ong is a graduate of Brandeis University and the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked in many of America's top restaurants, including Chez Panisse, Jean Georges, La Folie, and Spice Market. Ong's work has been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food Arts, the Wall Street Journal, Elle, Saveur, and the New York Times. He was named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Pastry Arts & Design. He is the chef and owner of P*ONG, a dessert spot in New York City.

Genevieve Ko is a graduate of Yale University. She is a freelance food writer and a consultant to chefs and restaurants. She lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

The Sweet Spot
Asian-Inspired Desserts

Steamed Pandan Layer Cake

Makes one 9-inch round cake, about 24 servings

Asian cakes are often sticky treats that taste more like candy than pastry. Glutinous rice flour lends a rich flavor and a distinctive chewy texture not found anywhere else. I love this particular version of sticky rice cake because of the fragrant pandan, which adds a fresh, floral note and vibrant green color to the cake. The result looks almost like layered Jell-O treats, but the taste is far more sophisticated.

chef's tip: Pandan leaves, also known as screwpine or bai touy, can be found frozen in Asian markets. Fresh pandan leaves, available only in Asia, impart a brilliant grass green color to desserts. To achieve the same color, you can use pandan extract, also available in Asian markets. Without the extract, the cake will be a calming shade of jade.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or other neutral oil for greasing the pan
½ cup (15⁄8 ounces/45 grams) chopped thawed frozen pandan leaves
2½ cups (20 ounces/568 grams)
unsweetened coconut milk
1¾ cups (117⁄8 ounces/335 grams) sugar
2⁄3 cup (2¾ ounces/79 grams) tapioca flour
2⁄3 cup (2¾ ounces/76 grams) glutinous rice flour
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
A drop of pandan extract, optional

Instructions:

1. Prepare a steamer by filling a large round casserole with water to a depth of 3 inches; thecasserole should be at least 11 inches in diameter and have a tightly fitting lid. Put a steamer rack or enough crumpled heavy-duty aluminum foil to support the cake pan on the bottom; the rack or foil should be just above the waterline. Set over medium heat and bring to a steady simmer. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with the oil and set aside.

2. Put the pandan leaves in a blender with ¼ cup of the coconut milk and 1⁄3 cup water. Blend until the pandan leaves are finely chopped. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, pressing on the pandan leaves to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the leaves and set the liquid aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 2¼ cups coconut milk with the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves; set aside.

4. Mix the three flours, the cornstarch, and the salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk mixture and stir until well blended. Pour half the batter (about 2 cups) into another mixing bowl. Add the pandan liquid and the extract, if using, to one of the bowls and mix well.

5. Pour 1 cup of the green batter into the cake pan, tilting the pan to form an even layer. Carefully set the cake pan on the steamer rack, making sure that the pan sits as evenly as possible. Wrap a thin kitchen towel around the lid, cover the pot tightly, and steam until the cake layer is firm and set, about 4 minutes.

6. Carefully pour 1 cup of the white cake batter on top of the green batter. Pour the batter in from the side so that it will spread into an even layer naturally. Steam, covered, until the white layer is set, about 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, alternating colors.

7. When the final layer is set, turn off the heat, uncover the pot, and let the cake cool in the casserole until it is cool enough to touch.

8. Remove the cake pan from the casserole, run a knife around the edge, and cut the cake into little squares. (You can eat the trimmings yourself.) It is best served the same day, as it hardens over time.


Passion Fruit Dahn Taht

Makes 32 mini tarts

This classic dim sum item actually originated in Portugal, where it's called pasties de nata, roughly translated as "pastries of cream." The Portuguese version is a firm egg custard in a hard shell. The Chinese version, found in just about every Chinese bakery and dim sum restaurant, is baked a little less so that the pastry and custard remain soft. My version combines the two with crisp pastry and a supple custard. I also add sweet-tart passion fruit seeds for a more complex flavor and texture.

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray
Chinese Puff Pastry (page 144)
6 passion fruits, seeds, pulp, and juice removed and reserved
3 large eggs
¾ cup (6 ounces/168 grams) whole milk
2⁄3 cup (4½ ounces/126 grams) sugar

Instructions:

1. Spray three mini-muffin tins with nonstick spray. Press a puff pastry round into each cup, using your fingers to press the dough flat on the bottom and up the sides of the mold. Chill in the freezer, uncovered, while you preheat the oven.

2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

3. Bake the tartlet shells until golden brown and dry to the touch, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pans. Turn the heat down to 325°F.

4. Put the eggs, milk, and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the passion fruit seeds, pulp, and juice.

5. Divide the passion fruit mixture among the cooled tart shells. Bake just until the custard is set, about 10 minutes; it should still jiggle a little in the center. Remove from the oven and cool slightly, then remove from the muffin tins and serve.

Key Lime Dahn Taht: Substitute ½ cup (4 ounces/113 grams) fresh key lime juice for the passion fruit seeds, pulp, and juice. (Or use 1⁄3 cup regular lime juice.)

The Sweet Spot
Asian-Inspired Desserts
. Copyright © by Pichet Ong. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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