I am thankful and humbled that I have two friends from my childhood days that I still consider my best friends. Our friendship have weathered through the years, and even though we were not (and are still not) the sort to meet up weekly, we have managed to stay in touch all these years. They have seen me throughout so much - my formative years as a crybaby kid, dorky adolescent, self-conscious young adult, to whom I am today. We all stay relatively near each other, but as we were in different schools, and when two of us were studying abroad, we were not the sort that meet up daily, weekly, or monthly. We try to meet up whenever we could once every few months, and now that we have all graduated, it does make it easier to meet up more regularly.
2012 has been a great year. I got to travel with both of these friends - I traveled to Vietnam in January with one, and to Seoul recently in July with the other. It was quite an experience to just spend time with them 24/7. I feel that a vacation makes you learn so much more about someone whom you seem to have known all your life (and thought you know everything about them).
You might be wondering what my rambling about friendship is all about. It just happened that on my vacation recently, I happened to mention to my pal that I love sweet potatoes, especially the purple variety. It was just in passing, yet I was touched that she actually remembered this small fact. When we came back from our holiday, she actually gifted me with two boxes of sweet potatoes (one box of yellow and one box of purple). Awwww.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic (and thankful of course). And also, a little apprehensive. It's 10kg worth in total. Oh my god. How was I going to finish everything?
One thing for sure, I knew I was going to save some to make desserts. The first thing I planned to make was purple sweet potato mont blanc. I've been wanting to make it ever since I saw Evan's version here.
Purple Sweet Potato Mont Blanc (紅いも モンブラン)
Sweet potatoes stash; Chopped
Daigaku Imo (大学芋)
Since I had yellow sweet potatoes too, I decided to make some daigaku imo to decorate the mont blanc dessert. They were actually pretty tasty right served right outta the pan (just be careful not to burn your tongue and eat it when it is too hot).
The purple sweet potato was really a b*tch to puree through the strainer. It took forever, and much arm power (I swear my arm was totally sore after all that workout). But it was a necessary step as it had to be absolutely smooth without any stringy bits as it had to be piped with a multi-opening nozzle.
The fun part was when it was time to pipe the swirls. I was giddy just piping it round and round and round...
The overall taste was pretty good. I was quite appalled at the amount of butter the original recipe called for. I reduced it slightly, but was thinking if I should have reduced it even more. The purple sweet potatoes didn't have a really prominent flavour, and with the addition of so much butter, it kinda muted the sweet potato taste further. My Sis even said the daigaku imo had more sweet potato flavour than the mont blanc itself.
I had so much leftover puree leftover that I had to think of another dessert to make use of it. There's another Japanese inspired dessert coming right up...in fact, the next few posts should be all pretty much about purple sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, and in general, yups, more of my favourite colour - purple.
Purple Sweet Potato Mont Blanc (紅いも モンブラン) (adapted from Aran at Cannelle Et Vanille)
(makes eight individual servings)
80g salted butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
113g all purpose flour
7.5g baking powder
In an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together.
Add the egg yolks and vanilla bean paste. Add the flour and baking powder combined until it comes together. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (I chilled mine overnight).
Roll out to about 1/2" thickness and cut 3" circles with a round cutter. Place the eight circles in molds and bake at 175C for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Purple Sweet Potato Cream
540g unsweetened sweet potato puree, strained
370g unsalted butter, softened (I recommend reducing the amount)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
100ml whipping cream, whipped
Combine the sweet potato puree, butter and vanilla bean paste and mix.
Press the cream through a fine sieve to remove any remaining large puree chunks.
Fold in whipped cream.
Vanilla Creme Chantilly
133g whipping cream
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
Combine above all in a mixing bowl, whip till soft peaks form.
Daigaku Imo (大学芋) (adapted from Just Hungry)
2 medium sweet potatoes
Oil for frying
4 tbsp white sugar
4 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp soy sauce
pinch of salt
black sesame seeds, toasted
Scrub the sweet potatoes very well. Dice the sweet potatoes into cubes, leaving the skin on for color (you can peel it if you want). Put the cut pieces into cold water. Heat up about an inch or so (3 cm) of oil in a large pan, or use a deep fat fryer. Drain and pat dry the sweet potato pieces, and put into the hot oil. Fry on medium heat until cooked through and lightly browned.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and soy sauce in a small pan over medium heat, until the mixture is completely melted and very syrupy. Take off the heat.
Take the potato pieces out of the oil, drain and immediately put the piping hot pieces into the sugar syrup mixture. (Be careful - both the potatoes and sugar are very hot!)
Mix and toss to coat the sweet potato slices.
Sprinkle with salt and toasted black sesame seeds. Separate the potato pieces so they don’t get stuck to each other.
Pipe some creme chantilly onto the middle of a sable breton base. Place the sweet potato cream in a piping bag with a "spaghetti" tip and pipe the cream on top of the breton and creme chantilly. Dust with snow sugar. Top with a piece of daigaku imo (optional). Serve immediately.