When English tea and Parisian cake cravings hit, Tokyoites bolt to fashionista ruled
neighborhoods. In areas like Aoyama and Shibuya, model-types twirl in front of boutique mirrors, while a door or two away, sophisticated foodies succumb to golden-crusted pastries and fresh cream-filled desserts at the patisseries. Ironic you say to sell sweets and minus-zero clothing on the same street? Maybe. But, Japanese artisans in – whatever medium - food or fabric do flock together. All command top yen and never lack for patrons. Even in this economy. After all, resisting a dress or dessert masterpiece is no easy task. (Although the latter is more affordable. And tastier!)
|Patisserie Chantilly Executive Chef/Owner,|
Keiko Nojima and the Ninja Baker
|Patisserie Chantilly's masterpiece desserts.|
The pièces des résistance never cease in the patisseries. (French pastry craft is always married with the art of Japanese culinary presentation.)
Pastry shop owners know that a) the palate of your average Tokyoite is refined and b) one misplaced strawberry on shortcake could send a customer sprinting to your competitor!
“The beauty of competition is the quality (it produces),” declares San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy (now Cordon Bleu) trained Chef Keiko Nojima. Taking note six plus years ago that Southern California was missing the sort of pastry shop found in Tokyo, Chef Keiko opened Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita, California. From fastidious notes and tastings, she replicated the cakes, macaron cookies and pastries, which abound in Tokyo’s trendy spots. As Executive Chef and Owner, she made the executive decision to hire only Japanese baking assistants and behind the counter help. Her reasoning was that “someone from Japan would know (how it’s done.)”
|Chef Keiko Nojima's superb replication of Tokyo's|
patisseries in Lomita, California.
Entering Patisserie Chantilly was a flashback in time to my formative days in Tokyo. But paying for my box of treats really brought on nostalgia. The cashier handed my credit card back with both hands. (A cup in a tea ceremony is handled with care and grace; so too is payment in a Japanese patisserie. By the way, both hands must also be used when exchanging business cards in Japan.)
Along with emulating the five-star service delivered in Tokyo desserteries like Theobroma, Chef Keiko and her team turn out exceptional looking and tasting cakes and cookies at Patisserie Chantilly. Although a nod is given to the American neighborhood with items such as petite slices of pumpkin cheesecake, I opted for the Asian fusion fare from behind the glass.
|The Ninja Baker's box of treasures from Patisserie Chantilly.|
And here’s the Ninja Baker review.
Sesame Seed Cream Puff
Amazing! Although not a fan of the seed, the sesame infused cream and crunchy shell balanced the sweet with a hint of savory.
Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake
Lovely and light, the delicate matcha flavor complimented the Chantilly cream and custard layered into the cake.
A Japanese pastry store standard and a bestseller at Patisserie Chantilly. The sponge cake is moist – but not overly so. The strawberries seem to have been sliced off a backyard vine. Whipped cream of most any sort makes me happy and the Patisserie Chantilly’s version did not disappoint.
|A maneki-neko (a good luck cat) portends|
the happiness found in Patisserie Chantilly's Green Tea Sables.
Nowhere is Chef Keiko’s artistry and advanced training more evident than in her cookies. The texture of her macarons is unbelievable. The outsides are crisp while the insides are slightly chewy. Not like an American macaroon but like a masterful French macaron.
Her sable cookies - true to Normandy tradition - are buttery and crumbly. While the matcha seemed more pronounced in the macarons, both green tea cookie variations were devoured with gusto. The sesame macarons were a marriage of bliss with a bit of bite. I may have to rethink my position on the black specks.
After going through the sweets in my Patisserie Chantilly box, I am convinced the way to stop bickering in the UN is to call on the pastry makers! Especially artisans like Chef Keiko who comprehend how to blend ingredients from multiple countries into one delightful dessert. Think about it. As long as the politicians are appreciating products contributed by other countries, maybe they can focus on creating a world where nations are united. Voilà! No more bickering. (Do I get a Nobel Peace Prize now?)
In the meantime, here’s my contribution to world peace and multi-cultural desserts – Green Tea Cake Pops!
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup butter
4 tablespoons green tea powder “matcha”
Put butter in a bowl and stir (or mix in KitchenAid) until soft. Add sugar, mix well. Add eggs. Sift flour and green tea powder together. Add to mix.
Place parchment paper into floured, greased medium-size pan. Or use mini loaf pans. Bake at 360 degrees (182 Celsius). I find a medium-sized pan needs a good 45 to 55 minutes in my oven. (Use the clean knife/toothpick method.)
Matcha Green Tea Frosting
1 cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons green tea powder – “matcha”
1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
3. Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of matcha.
4. Beat into the butter/cream cheese mixture.
For the how-to on assembling a cake pop, click on the highlighted link to LilSugar.com. The site provides simple step-by-step instructions complete with photos.
Ninja Baker Cake Pop Tips:
- Make sure the cake pops are super frozen before swirling in the melted chocolate. (Work quickly. Chocolate stiffens quickly.)
- Merckens Chocolate works better than the chocolate chips found in the supermarket. (If you do use market chips, add a teaspoon or so of canola oil to each cup of chocolate to avoid uncooperative hardened goop.)
- For Christmas-themed Green Tea Cake Pops use white chocolate for the shell.
- For Hanukkah, make white cakes pops (held together with vanilla frosting) and cover with Merckens blue coating candy.
|Husband, David says, "Cheers!" with the Ninja Baker's cake pops.|