(Sakura) Style over Substance

The theme for this month’s Bibliotheca blog newsletter is florals, and it’s sakura season, so I decided to finally make a gelatin dessert I had bookmarked over a year ago. One of the few news(?) sites I keep up with is a site called Fashion Press, which, you guessed it, publishes press releases about fashion stuff. This time, it was about a collaboration between a specific Wacoal line of lingerie and a Western-style sweets shop Malebranche.

Wait, what? Yeah, well, why not. (Also, for anyone wondering, Wacoal’s Japanese lingerie offerings are infinitely more varied and “aesthetic” than the extremely basic stuff they tend to sell in the US.) Basically Malebranche made some sweets that have the same color palette or whatever as the fancy bras. And one of those was sakura themed.

Left: fancy pink bra, Right: fancy pink gelatin dessert

It was titled “Sakura Panna Cotta” and searching around online yielded a bunch of recipes for similar desserts, albeit with pickled cherry blossoms.

Yes, pickled cherry blossoms. I saw some people call them “salted cherry blossoms” but. Same difference. The not a cheesecake above seems to have some petal action, but not these, so I didn’t worry about sourcing them. They also featured ‘sakura powder’, which I ended up having to import from a Japanese seller. When I tasted it, I made the first face that lady makes when trying kombucha. It doesn’t taste bad, per se, just not of food. I was reminded of when my high school chemistry teacher ate some non-toxic packing peanuts made from rice(?) flour with us. Otherwise, it was just an extremely simple panna cotta (maybe even more like a blanc mange) with a sugared gelatin. You even were advised to soak off all the salt on the blossoms.

Why am I mentioning all this? Well, because after some trials and tribulations (more on that later), the final product was incredibly bland. It’s not a good sign when the most flavorful part of your dessert is the graham cracker crust. It didn’t taste bad, mind you, but there’s no flavor. Just sugar and dairy. Yet other recipes I came across recommended using additional flavoring agents, such as kirsch or other types of cherry liqueurs or syrups. But many of these have coloring added to them, rendering the use of sakura powder moot. Really, at that point, you’re making a different dessert entirely.

My conclusion is that this is a great example of what I’ve heard called an “Instagram dessert” – the final product, even with my half-assing, did look very pretty.

Excuse my deflated whipped cream – I took too long with the photo setup

At first, the sakura jelly looked what I would call a “dingy pink”, but after setting up over the panna cotta layer it looked much more pleasant. But I would never make this again. It’s a nothing dessert. That involves springform pans.

I’m not providing the recipe I used here cuz I promise, it’s literally just a graham cracker crust, a panna cotta, and an unflavored jelly with a bit of sakura powder added. And I would axe that first part. Also the third part. Many of the recipes I found just poured both layers into glasses, and this is the way to go. My first attempt at a more cheesecake-like dessert resulted in some serious leakage, and put me off trying again for almost a week.

A soggy bottom makes for a sad Kelp.

In addition to my mini-springforms, I took this opportunity to use my wide shallow Showa reproduction glassware from Aderia just in case the leakage continued.

Look at that flawless (fake) purin

No danger of leaks here

When I finally mustered the energy to try again, I added a bunch of additional steps to ensure No More Leaks. A lotta work for a tasteless dessert. At least the Rainbow Ribbon Mold had flavor. Multiple flavors even.

Normally I only make one weird dessert a month, but I need to palate cleanse…wait no, I don’t need to palate cleanse. There’s nothing on my palate. Anyways, look forward to a bonus Retro Dessert edition later this month (teaser – it’s a baked custard…what could be strange about it?)

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