Cereal and milk is a strong childhood (or even adulthood) memory, and that’s the peg of Uchiko’s iconic fried milk dessert. It sounds like something that would fit in at the State Fair, but pastry chef Philip Speer, who originally conceived the confection, aimed to create something classy yet fun.
Speer, who is no longer with Uchiko’s Hai Hospitality, told the Wall Street Journal: "I wanted to create something familiar in flavor." With Spanish influences, molecular gastronomy techniques, and a breakfast twist, he instantly created an iconic dessert at the Japanese restaurant.
Not looking to mess with something already perfect, Uchiko’s current pastry chef, Ariana Quant, revamped the dish to enhance the palatable experience (what she calls "a slight facelift"). She comes from a strong dessert background: she helms from Joël Robuchon’s L'Atelier in Las Vegas, known for its wonderful dessert carts.
Her updated fried milk, which isn’t even available on the menu just yet, includes a touch of Cap’n Crunch and coffee, continuing in that "breakfast direction," she says.
Here, Quant walks us through the steps of making Uchiko’s fried milk.
First up is creating the fried milk, which begins with pastry cream. As milk is warming up, Quant whisks eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla bean together. She adds the boiling milk into the egg mixture, one ladle at a time ("so it doesn’t become scrambled eggs," she explains). Everything is poured back into the pot still on the stove, so it maintains that same hot temperature.
That mixture is poured through a strainer, because smoothness is key. For extra richness, two sticks of butter are blended into the batter. Everything is chilled overnight to cool and firm up.
The next day, it’s time to pour the chilled pastry cream into rounded molds using an offset spatula, for its finished shape. Everything settles in for its second cooling session.
Quant pops out the solid naked milk, and proceeds to coat ‘em with flour, egg wash, and then cornflake dust, shaking off all excess bits. When that’s done, it’s back to the fridge for another overnight stint. The process is repeated all over again the next day, and then it’s time for the soon-to-be fried milks’ fourth and final night of cold slumber.
One of the changes to the signature dessert Quant implemented is the type of ice cream. Instead of original iced milk sherbet, she toasts milk powder for an "extra depth of flavor." The base is loaded into a ice cream machine. That finished concoction is put into the freezer until the day of service.
A couple hours before serving, she takes the ice cream for another spin. This time, it’s through the smaller PacoJet machine for a fresher taste.
Finally, it’s time bring all of the components together. Quant whips the chocolate cream, and artfully squeezes out straight lines of chocolate syrup.
Without messing up her work, she carefully dollops the cream onto the plate, using a large spoon. The cornflake-crusted milks come out of the refrigerator, are quickly fried, and set aside.
A tray of housemade meringue is broken into larger chunks, which are torched for a "campfire s’mores" effect.
Next comes crumbles of Cap’n Crunch cereal, which serves as the base of a scoop of that fresh toasted milk ice cream. Meringue is placed, then the fried milk (finished with a touch of salt), and the final touch: a dusting of espresso powder. Behold, it’s Uchiko’s highly-craveable fried milk dessert.