Friday, April 30, 2010

Tango's El Diablo

El Diablo
Tango, $10

This is one of the worst pictures I've ever taken of one of the best desserts I've ever eaten.  From the minute the plates hit the table I just couldn't be bothered to futz around with f-stops and framing.  

Tango is celebrating its 10th anniversary today by giving away free servings of its signature dessert, the El Diablo.  This multi-component extravaganza looks like a goth fantasy castle in the clouds.  There's cube of dense dark chocolate mousse, spiced with enough cayenne to make your lips tingle, perched on a nest of scorched meringue, and surrounded by a little moat of tequila caramel sauce; a sprinkling of cacao nibs adds texture and a bitter bass note, and  the whole thing is guarded by a few spicy-sweet praline almonds (imagine Marcona almonds from a country that believes in butter rather than olive oil).  

Back by the bathrooms, there's a framed article from "Seattle Metropolitan Magazine" in which Tango's first pastry chef, Bennie Sata, describes the origins of the dessert.  Ten years ago, when pairing chocolate and chilies wasn't yet the done thing, Texas-raised Sata took her cues from devil's food cake and the vats of mole she ate growing up.  She also talks charmingly about one aspect of the final concept that gives over-the-top El Diablo an element of home ec practicality:  egg yolks go into the mousse, while the whites get "recycled" as meringue.  

And one word of advice to those who carp that El Diablo is "too rich to finish":  share.  Your relationship will be glad you did.  

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