More than 2 years ago, I began making a Sailor Moon dessert series. At this time, I was blogging purely for myself and using a phone camera. I didn’t really think anyone would look at it, I just wanted to make something fun based on one of my favorite shows.
It kinda blew up. The series got featured on The Daily Dot, Hello Giggles, and countless other smaller websites. I was really surprised and amazed by the support, especially from the Sailor Moon subreddit over on Reddit. It was a super cool experience.
I’ve learned a lot since then, even though I’m still a baby blogger. The more I learned, the more I wanted to take a second pass at the series that made me take the blog more seriously. Your response encouraged me to take a full month to reboot this series, and I’m so happy that I did. I’m immensely proud of my improvements, and I really hope you’ll like them too.
The first time I did the series I envisioned them as two-serving desserts that could be in the display case of a pop-up Sailor Moon café. As the series progressed, the desserts got more intricate and I figured out the aesthetic I wanted. While that was great for the later desserts, it meant the series over all was… not cohesive. Sailor Neptune and Sailor Mercury were on completely different levels, for example. It was a bit of a mess.
This time I started out with a set idea: I wanted to make desserts that could sit in a case at a high-end patisserie. I used all the original desserts as a starting point and refined them to be more equal in intricacy and more visually cohesive. I improved recipes quite a bit. Some of the desserts were changed more than others, but all of them got a makeover. The remakes will also have a small common feature: gold leaf. I did this as a nod to the golden tiaras all the Scouts wear.
Finally, there’s the photography. The original photos were all taken on my kitchen counter in front of the same yellow wall. No natural lighting, and only my iPhone as a camera. Nowadays I’m still no expert, but I’ve got a decent camera and some better backdrops. The difference is significant.
I hope you guys enjoy this series. Thank you so much for supporting me in making it.
Usagi’s original dessert was one of the ones I most wanted to remake. While I was quite happy with the Serenity dress inspiration and vanilla/strawberry flavor profile, it was far simpler than the later desserts in the series. Considering that Usagi is our primary heroine, that seemed unacceptable.
I retooled the cake to be more similar to a Fraisier, filled with a pastry cream and jammed with real berries. To add a more elegant finish, I used a white chocolate wrap. The cream puffs got an added later of crunchy caramel to add some texture.
Strawberry Chiffon with Cream Puffs
YIELDS: 4 miniature cakes, big enough to share.
TIMING NOTES: This is a project that would benefit from being spread over two or even three days if you are a home baker. Please read the instructions carefully before you begin, noting especially the bake times, how long creams must set and how long assembled cakes must chill.
While it’s more than many home bakers may typically tackle, this is very much a doable project! Preparing all your supplies and ingredients beforehand and giving yourself lots of time to work with is the best way to make sure this is a relaxed and fun experience. Happy baking!
Cream Puffs (pâte à choux) [Recipe Below]
Chiffon Cake rounds [Recipe Below]
Pastry Cream [Recipe Below]
Stabilized Whipped Cream [Recipe Below]
Wet Caramel [Recipe Below]
Fresh strawberries, washed, patted dry and leaves removed
2 lbs of tempered white chocolate OR white candy melts
Template [DOWNLOAD HERE]
Round cookie/pastry cutter set
3.5″ cake rings
1. Prepare all your components. My suggested order for production is as follows: Make the chiffon and pâte à choux first. Make pastry cream while these bake, then the chocolate garnishes. Dip the puffs in caramel. Fill the cakes. Make ganache using leftover chocolate (instructions below). Assemble.
2. Make the chocolate moon: Spread about 1/2 cup of your tempered chocolate or candy melts onto a piece of parchment, spreading it out to be roughly 1/8″ thick. Thicker will be easier to work with, so it’s fine to spread it more thickly if you are new to working with chocolate. If you want, jostly the parchment gently to get the top of the chocolate to smooth out. While the chocolate sets, choose a roughly 2.5″ and 2″ round pastry cutter for the crescent shape. Once the chocolate is partway set (it should be flexible but no longer sticky on top), punch out a crescent moon shape for each cake. I also recommend making extra. Allow the chocolate sheet to cool completely, then flip the whole thing over and peel off the parchment. You should be able to pop out the crescent shapes quite easily.
2. Make the chocolate wraps: Cut a sheet of acetate for each cake you’ll be making according to the template provided above. Wrap 4 of your cake rings with acetate strips, taping to secure them. Ready a large sheet of parchment or a silicone mat to work on. You will have to work fairly quickly. Make each wrap as follows:
- Lay down one acetate sheet cut to the template shape.
- Spread an even layer of tempered chocolate or candy melts onto the acetate template, being sure to cover all of it (even if it goes far past the sides).
- When the chocolate has begun to set up a bit but is still tacky on top, use a knife or your offset spatula to loosen the tab area from the parchment/silicone mat. Using the tab to start, quickly pick up the wrap (touching only on the back!) and wrap it around the cake ring.
- Press down the edges of the wrap a bit to secure it. Set aside and allow to set completely before removing the acetate strips and revealing the wrap.
3. Dip and fill the puffs: Have your hot caramel ready and lay a sheet of parchment on a heat-proof surface. Grab a puff and insert the chopstick into the base. Now, dip the puff into the caramel, leaving only the base undipped. Pull out the puff, allow the excess to drip off, and set the puff dipped side down onto your parchment. Make sure it’s sitting fairly straight so your tops aren’t crooked. Remove the chopstick carefully. Repeat for all your cream puffs. Allow your cream puffs to cool COMPLETELY, then snip the tip of your pastry cream bag and use the holes from the chopstick to pipe in a healthy amount of cream. If it starts squirting out the hole, it’s a bit overfilled. Peel the puffs from the parchment, set them upright and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge until assembly time.
4. Build the cakes: Line up your chocolate wraps on a parchment-lined tray. If there are any spots in the wraps where filling may leak out (such as the seam), feel free to fortify them from the inside with a little melted chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set, then proceed to fill. First, pop a layer of chiffon cake into the base of the wrap. For extra stability, you can pipe a small ring of white chocolate around the edges of this cake layer. Arrange strawberries onto the cake, sitting upright. Pipe pastry cream all around and on top of the berries. Be sure to leave enough room for the final layer of cake. Place on the second chiffon layer and press very gently to level it out. Place the cakes in the fridge to set for about an hour.
5. Make ganache: Pour the remaining white chocolate into a measuring cup. Measure out 50% of the chocolate’s volume in heavy cream. Warm the heavy cream in the microwave, but do not boil it. Mix it with the cream until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature or lukewarm at most before using. Once cooled, pour some ganache onto the top cake layer of each cake. Jostle the cake a bit to encourage it to coat the top evenly. Return the cakes to the fridge for an additional 30 minutes.
[NOTE: Steps 6 and 7 are basically interchangable, and it may even be easier to do step 7 first.]
6. Assemble: I recommend donning gloves for this stage to avoid fingerprints. Arrange four cream puffs on top of each cake in a small pile. Using a small dab of melted tempered chocolate/candy melts, adhere a crescent moon to the top cream puff. Hold it gently just until it stands on its own, then allow it to set the rest of the way without holding it.
7. Decorate the chocolate wraps: Find a pastry cutter in your set that matches the curves of the wrap as closely as possible. Dip this cutter very lightly in some ganache, then use it to mark the top of the wrap with circles. Fill ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (#2 or #3). Use it to pipe dots along the markings you’ve made. Pipe a row of dots with a small space between them along the bottom of each wrap as well. Now pipe 3 dots of gradually decreasing size where each circle of dots meets at the top.
8. Enjoy your creation! These can be stored in the fridge for up to a day, but since they have caramel and fresh berries they should really be served as soon as possible.
Pâte à Choux
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40ml) water
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40ml) milk
2 tbsp. (30g) butter
1/2 cup (60g) bread flour
1 tsp (5g) sugar
One TINY pinch of salt
2 eggs, mixed
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C and line a sheet pan with parchment or a silicone mat. In a saucepan combine the water, milk, sugar, salt and butter. Bring to a rolling boil, then dump in the flour all at once and mix vigorously. Once the dough forms a ball and begins to leave a film on saucepan, transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and mix it until it has cooled to lukewarm.
2. Begin mixing the eggs into the dough half an egg at a time. Your goal is NOT to use all of the egg, but to achieve the proper consistency. Depending on how dry your dough is, you may use more or less than the recipe calls for. The dough is at the proper consistency when it’s just stretchy enough for you to take a pinch of it between your hand and stretch it to 1″ long, or when a mixing paddle pulled up from it forms a V shape. [See gifs below.]
3. Fill the dough into a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip (I recommend Ateco #804). Pipe small cream puff rounds (2/3″ or 1.5cm at most) onto your parchment. The puffs will expand, so keep at least 1″ of distance between each one. If your puffs have peaks after piping, dip your finger in water and pat them down.
4. Bake for 8 minutes, then reduce to temperature to 325°F/160°C. Continue to bake until nicely browned and dried out (25-40 minutes), then remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store puffs in an air-tight container until time to use.
4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup (140g) sifted cake flour
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (8ml or 3g) baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (95ml) water
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon extract
Pinch of cream of tartar
1. Pre-heat your oven to 325°F/160°C and line a 9″/22cm square cake pan with parchment around both the sides and bottom. You can use shortening or butter to make the parchment stick, but do not grease the parchment where it will make contact with the cake.
2. Combine egg yolks, canola oil, water, vanilla, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Whisk until foamy and well-beaten. In a separate bowl, sift together the sugar, baking powder and cake flour. Mix the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until just combined.
3. Using clean beaters and a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold the whites gently into the egg yolk mixture.
4. Pour the batter into the cake pan and knock it sharply on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool to lukewarm before covering the top in plastic wrap.
5. Once cooled completely, level the cake with a serrated knife if necessary and punch out four 3.5″ rounds from the cake. Split each round in half. Store the cake rounds in an air-tight container until time to use.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
1 cup (240ml) milk
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
2 tbsp (15g) cornstarch
1 tbsp (15g) butter
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Combine all ingredients except the butter and whipping cream in a saucepan and cook on medium-low, stirring constantly until the mixtured has thickened. Once the cream has thickened and come to a boil, continue to cook the cream (still stirring) for an additional minute to remove any starchy flavor.
2. Take the cream off the heat and stir in the butter while the cream is still hot. Once the two are combined, press the cream through a sieve. Cover it in plastic wrap, pushing the wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill the cream completely in the fridge.
3. Once the cream is chilled, stir it up to loosen it a bit. In a separate bowl, beat the cream to medium peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream. Fill the cream into a pastry bag, tie off the end with a twist-tie and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
250g (1 1/4 cup) sugar
80ml (1/3 cup) water
2 tsp corn syrup
1. Ready a large cake pan filled with cold water; you will use this to dip the base of the saucepan into at the end of the recipe. In a very clean saucepan, combine all your ingredients and heat until just dissolved. Using a pastry brush dipped into water, brush down the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar granules sticking to them. After this point you should not stir the syrup.
2. Cook the syrup for 5-10 minutes, keeping a careful eye on it. It will first boil off all the water and then begin to brown lightly around the edges. You may swivel the saucepan gently to prevent excessive browning in any one spot, but remember not to stir. The syrup will begin to turn golden all over. Once it’s a bit lighter than you want the end result to be, remove the pan from the heat and dunk the base briefly in the cold water to cool it. Use immediately.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A light golden color results in a delicate tasting caramel, while a darker amber color adds a complex and bitter note. Which you prefer is up to you. Either way, the caramel will continue to cook after being removed from the heat, so go with lighter than you desire at first. You can always caramelize more, but you cannot undo caramelization.
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