Sweet of the Week: Cinnamon Concha from Blackbird
Now is the time when I devour strawberry desserts with reckless abandon, like a Hoover vaccuum insatiably sucking up dust. From classic strawberry desserts (strawberry shortcake) to more offbeat ones (strawberry limoncello sauce), I can't get enough. One recent standout was the cinnamon concha with roasted strawberries from Blackbird's adept pastry chef Dana Cree. I actually had it at a barbecue event in New York City where she was serving it, but a version is also available on the current dessert menu at the restaurant. And I'd imagine it's even more delicious when consumed from the comfort of a restaurant and not amidst a crowded sea of sweaty people. But I digress.
(Cinnamon concha from Blackbird at the Saveur BBQ in NYC. Look for it on the Blackbird menu as well.)
I applaud Cree for her unusual, imaginative approach to strawberry dessertery. Instead of bedazzle a standard shortcake recipe, she opted for a cinnamon-scented concha as the centerpiece, concha being a sweet, doughy bread typical in Mexico. The cool thing with this dessert is that the spiced concha actually tastes like a cinnamon roll sans the overt cloying sweetness. So essentially this is a strawberry shortcake with cinnamon roll dough in lieu of shortcake. i.e. I died and went to heaven. The concha has a lovely tender chew, a nice juxtaposition against the silky bed of luscious roasted strawberries and cream. Sweet in their own natural right, the strawberries taste like nature's Fruit Punch, which is absolutely lovely, and it took a great deal of conviction not to lick the plate like a dog once I was done forking it into my mouth.
- Matt Kirouac