Cherish Finden presents A Taste of Umami: Seaweed-Sesame and Dashi Sable Black Charcoal Salted Caramel

Singapore-born multi-awarded Cherish Finden has been Executive Pastry Chef at The Langham hotel in London since 2009. With over 20 years of international experience, Cherish has created an innovative and imaginative menu for the hotel’s centerpiece, the Palm Court. Her work at The Langham London has ranged from creating irresistible menu items, inspired by the collections of top designers and brands, to developing magnificent showpieces. The pastry chef’s inventive edge has kept the hotel at the forefront of London’s culinary scene.
Cherish’s enthusiasm and passion for her work have also resulted in invitations to appear on popular TV programmes among notable culinary peers including Heston’s Great British Food on Channel 4, BBC’s Masterchef, Australian Masterchef, BBC 2’s Junior Bake-off and recently as a judge on BBC Two’s  Bake Off Creme de la Creme.
We asked her to present one of her favourite desserts created in the last twelve months.

Taste of Umami. Photo: courtesy of Cherish Finden

How would you describe your dessert?
The crunchy Seaweed-Sesame Dashi Sable is accompanied by a silky smooth black charcoal salty caramel, sprinkled with a tiny bit of rock salt on top of the ganache. There’s a hint of smoke and a salty taste of the ocean.

What inspired you to create it? How was it born?
It started as a ‘tapas’ style dessert created for “The Artesian”  bar (which was three times voted Best Bar in The World) at The Langham Hotel. I wanted to introduce a taste of umami and flavours of Japan. I wanted to create something with a nice balance of savoury and sweet to complement the exquisite cocktails on the menu.

Did it require any special techniques?
The most important part to begin with was finding the right ingredients. The perfect dashi,  Ariake seaweed and the best rock salt. Next it was to cook the caramel to the perfect colour and flavour. This requires creating the right texture of ganache by emulsifying the chocolate completely and then monteing in the butter at the right temperature. 

What was the most challenging part of creating this dessert?
The challenge started by determining the concept of what I wanted to offer as a tapas dessert. It had to be something that is balanced in every mouthful.
It was followed by trying different elements and ingredients so that they marry nicely with each other.
The process ended by creating the perfect savoury and sweet balance, which makes you want more.

Which Cacao Barry Chocolate was used in this dessert and why have you chosen that one?
I used our personalised Cacao Barry ‘Or Noir’ chocolate which is called The Langham N°150. It was created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the hotel last summer. 
It is a bespoke chocolate that is sensational to eat and aims to put a smile on your face. The sweetness of the milk combined with the highly intense notes of the cocoa, leaves a long and lasting taste. It has a hint of honey and caramel accompanied by a fruity acidity and finishes with a bitter note.

If you would have to promote this dessert to attract people to try it, what would you say?
Eat me, eat me!!! :)
Seriously though, I would encourage people to just go for it. It is something different that you won’t find just anywhere else. It may not be something you would normally pick off the menu but the sweet and salty combination is so moreish that it will leave you wanting to order another round!