During my apprenticeship (many moons ago) one very popular petit gateau was called Japonais, which literally translates in English as “Japanese”.
The other day, I was reading random tweets and found one speaking of that very same Japonais pastry. I was so surprised that someone actually still talks about it! I did a quick search and couldn’t find anything about this sort of pastries outside Switzerland. Maybe it’s just the name that is used in Switzerland. I also tried to look for the etymology of the word “Japonais” or “Japanese” in the pastry field, but to no avail – everything is related to the great art of traditional Japanese pastry.
The name and origin of biscuit Japonais will remain a mystery to me…
That pastry was made of light almond meringues, filled with a praline butter cream. Back then it was delicious and seen as a total delicacy, I still remember making dozens of them every day… but that brings us back 20 years ago! Today, I think there are still potential to work out something delicious with the biscuit Japonais, but not loaded with the partner in crime of cupcakes, the odd butter cream! This time around, I have been thinking about using toasted coconut instead of almonds and to prepare a light and fruity filling for the finish.
Before starting the biscuit, I worked on the filling. I wanted something exotic, something that could fit our upcoming afternoon tea selection and be fresh. Knowing I had to work with the coconut, I prepared a light coconut and lime cream as well as a mango and fresh coriander (yay!) filling.
To start, I prepared the mango filling using mango puree, fresh diced mangoes from the Philippines, some freshly chopped coriander and a bit of xanthan gum to obtain the right runny texture. That’s right, runny! I mixed it and froze it as a tray. Once hard, I cut little rings that were to be set in the coconut and lime cream.
Mango coriander filling
- 120 gm mango dice
- 300 gm mango puree
- 3 gm fresh coriander
- 2 gm xanthan gum
- Mix the mango puree with the xanthan gum and blend until it thickens
- Add the mango dices and the chopped coriander
- Pour in a tray to obtain a 1 cm thick layer and freeze
- Once set, cut little discs
Next, I prepared the coconut and lime cream…
- 200 gm coconut milk
- 10 gm white sugar
- 1/2 lime juice
- 160 gm whipped cream
- 7 gm gelatin leaves
- Soften the gelatin leaves in cold water
- Melt the sugar in the coconut milk and add melt in the soften gelatin
- Squeeze the lime juice in and fold into the whipped cream
- Allow setting a little and pipe in round molds
Finally, I prepared the famous coconut Japonais!
- 250 grams of egg whites
- 100 grams white sugar
> Whip as a meringue
- 250 grams dried coconut
- 300 grams white sugar
> Mix the dried coconut and the sugar and fold it in the whipped egg whites carefully
> Pipe in round shape on the paper drawn with circles
> Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes – note that it will gain color fairly fast
The actual biscuit resemble what we call in pastry a dacquoise sponge, which is literally the same, yet, still no connection with Japonais Biscuit!
For the finishing, I took out the frozen coconut cream from the molds, made it a little flat using a knife and rolled it in dried coconut. Then I applied two pieces of the Japonais biscuit and left it to thaw.
The biscuit could be done with other nuts, the cream and the filling other flavors and the only limit to create is just one’s own mind! :)