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Author Notes: Instant coolness can be a very enticing thing when it's hot outside! This is a refreshing tropical layered smoothie, with four different unusual flavors. All you need are a blender and a short list of ingredients- ice, milk and cream, maple syrup and four flavor bases. My favorite things about this are that it only takes minutes to make, and that it gives me an opportunity to enjoy some unique flavors that I don't have all the time and that I love. Also, while many smoothies are fruit based and require fresh or frozen fruit to be on hand, this smoothie uses flavor bases that last ‘forever’ in refrigerator or pantry- coconut milk, green tea, red bean paste and thai tea. They are neither expensive or (generally) hard to find, most or all available in a well stocked Chinese, Korean or Japanese market. Once your ingredients are measured, it takes only minutes to assemble the smoothie, and you can just as well make only one or two flavors- whatever you prefer!
In creating this, I wanted to give a playful nod to the very old Japanese culinary tradition called Kaiseki. I chose the four smoothie flavor layers to be Asian and to represent the four seasons for the maple: White (coconut) is Winter; Red (red bean paste) is Spring, with its fiery red foliage; Green (green tea powder) is Summer; and Orange (Thai tea powder) is Autumn. I first learned about Japanese kaiseki cuisine, where food and art are one, 30 years ago. While it is not a part of my daily culinary life, I continue to be fascinated by it and to hold it in reverance, like any great art that requires years of study and practice to master.
* By the way, even to just begin to approximate kaiseki principles, each smoothie flavor would be presented in its own one-of-a-kind handmade pottery dish, with a leaf or flower or other element representing that season. The flavors would not be presented together; rather, each would accompany a special meal celebrating that particular season. The minimal room appointments and the server's clothing would also reflect that season! (Maybe think about kaiseki when you plan your next theme party?!)
photos to follow
- LE BEC FIN
Spring (Sweet Bean Paste) and Winter (Coconut) Smoothie layers
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
- 1/2 cup milk, cold
- 5 tablespoons red bean paste*
- 6 cubes ice, about 2 1/2" x 1 1/2"
- 6 tablespoons coconut milk**, chilled after pouring from room temperature can (shake can well before using)
- 6 tablespoons milk, cold
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup Grade B, cold
- 6 cubes of ice, same size as above
- If you want to make all four layers, the order is important. Red Bean Paste(Spring) is on the bottom because it is the heaviest. Coconut (Winter) goes on top of it. Thai Tea (Autumn) is next and Green Tea(Summer) is the top layer. When seen and eaten, one begins at the top with Summer and then goes down through Autumn, Winter, and finally, Spring.
- Spring/ Red Bean: Into a blender place cream through red bean paste. Buzz to thoroughly combine. Add ice and pulse 1-2 minutes til ice is finely ground and smoothie is a thick cold mass. If one or 2 lumps of ice remain, toss them out. Pour this red bean layer into the bottom of 4 clear glass highball glasses or champagne flutes.
- Winter/ Coconut: Rinse blender quickly in cold water and dry.Add coconut milk through maple syrup and buzz to combine. Add ice cubes and taste and add maple syrup if needed.Proceed as above. Pour onto Red Bean layer in 4 glasses.
- Note: * red bean paste can be found canned or in plastic refrigerator pouch in both Japanese and Chinese/Korean stores. If you have many to choose from, choose the one with the least sugar content. Also, since this is a blenderized drink, choose a smooth puree rather than a chunky one.
- Note: ** the best coconut milk for this is the Thai canned brand, Chaukoh.
Autumn (Thai Tea) and Summer (Green Tea) Smoothie layers
- 2 teaspoons thai tea leaves/powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream(or coconut milk)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup,cold
- 6 ice cubes
- 2 teaspoons green tea powder (matcha)
- 6 tablespoons milk,cold (or coconut milk)
- 6 tablespoons coconut milk,cold per above
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup, cold
- 6 ice cubes
- Autumn/Thai Tea: Combine milk and cream in saucepan; heat over medium high heat til bubbles form around edge, turn off heat, add thai tea, cover and steep 2 hours. Strain, chill cream/milk. This should be done at least 4 hours ahead of assembly. Into blender, place cream mixture and maple syrup. Buzz to blend thoroughly. Add ice cubes and proceed as above. Pour this over the Winter (Coconut) layer.
- Summer/ Green Tea: Into the blender place coconut milk through green tea powder. Buzz to combine thoroughly. Check to make sure there are no tea lumps. Add maple syrup and buzz. Then add ice cubes as above. Pour this layer as the top layer in all the glasses.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Maple Recipe