24 large shrimp in shell (about 1 lb.) peeled, leaving tail and first segment of shell intact, and deveined
1 Tbsp. finely grated peeled fresh ginger
2/3 cup chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 whole star anise
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 3/4 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs
Toss shrimp with ginger in a bowl and marinate, chilled, 30 minutes (do not marinate any longer or enzymes from ginger will begin to "cook" shrimp).
Make soup while shrimp marinate: Cook shallot, garlic, and anise in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until shallot is softened, about 5 minutes. Add squash, stock, and water and simmer, uncovered, until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove star anise.
Puree soup in 2 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch, then transfer to cleaned pan and keep warm, covered.
Sprinkle marinated shrimp with salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute shrimp in 2 batches, stirring, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per batch, transferring to paper towels.
Bring soup to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Divide among 8 shallow soup bowls and mound 3 shrimp in each bowl.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups milk, plus
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbsp. melted butter, plus more for brushing
1 cup heavy cream
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the granulated sugar and salt. Whisk in the milk, vanilla, 6 whole eggs and the 4 tablespoons of melted butter and let stand for 30 minutes.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet and lightly brush with melted butter. Pour 1/3 cup of the crepe batter into the skillet and immediately swirl until it reaches halfway up the side. Pour any excess batter back into the bowl. Cook the crepe over moderate heat until golden at the edge and set in the center, about 1 minute. Flip the crepe and cook for about 15 seconds longer, or just until the bottom is browned in spots. Transfer the crepe to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the skillet with butter only as needed.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of the cream to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate and cinnamon. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in 2 of the egg yolks. In a medium bowl, whisk the dulce de leche with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and 2 egg yolks.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper. Fit a crepe in the bottom of the pan, pressing to flatten it. Halve 2 crepes and line the sides of the pan with them, placing the cut sides down and slightly overlapping the bottom crepe; the rounded part of the halved crepes will hang over the edge of the pan a bit.
Spoon a slightly heaping 1/2 cup of the chocolate filling into the pan and spread to the edge of the crepe. Top with another crepe, pressing to flatten it. Spoon a slightly heaping 1/2 cup of the dulce de leche filling on top, spread it to the edge and top with a crepe. Repeat this layering with the remainder of the fillings and 4 more crepes, ending with a crepe. Any leftover crepes can be frozen between sheets of wax paper for later use. Fold the overhanging crepes over the top. Press a round of buttered parchment paper directly onto the torte and cover the pan with foil.
Bake the torte for 1 hour, or until puffed. Remove the foil and let cool for 1 hour. Remove the parchment and run a knife around the edge of the pan. Invert a plate over the pan and then invert the torte onto the plate. Remove the pan and parchment paper and let cool completely. Sift confectioners' sugar over the torte just before serving.
Yield: 12 servings