CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH COCONUT BUTTERCREAM

Every Monday I like to take a bake to our department, and try to keep it varied, never the same type of sweet two weeks in a row. I always have too many options in my mind and go into a state of paralysis when the weekend arrives and I need to decide what to make. Last weekend was particularly tough, so I asked the husband to help me out. He did not even blink. Why not a chocolate cake with coconut frosting? And that’s how this cake was born.

CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH COCONUT BUTTERCREAM
(adapted from  Ina Garten and Stella Parks)

for the chocolate cake (make one day in advance):
(after Ina Garten)
228g all-purpose flour
400g sugar
75g unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

for coconut creme patissiere:
1 cup coconut milk
4 large egg yolks
65g granulated sugar
2 + 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

for coconut frosting:
(after Stella Parks)
170g egg whites
340g turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
450 g butter (4 sticks)  softened to about 65 F
115g virgin coconut oil

for the drip glaze:
113 g semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Make the cakes. Heat the oven to 350°. Butter three 7-by-2-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

I In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Place the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, both leavening agents and salt in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer.  Turn the mixer on, and after a few seconds slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Slowly pour the warm coffee. Batter will be pretty thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool. Peel off the parchment. When completely cold, refrigerate to finish next day.

Make the creme patissiere (can be made the day before). Bring the coconut milk up to a simmer in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and extract until pale in color. Slowly pour in the hot coconut milk while whisking continuously. Return the mixture back to the saucepan and whisk over medium-high heat until it boils. Boil for two minutes (important step, to destroy amylases in the egg yolks, that would prevent the cream from setting properly).  Pour the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve then stir in the butter. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream, making sure it is touching the surface, and refrigerate until cooled completely. Stir in the shredded coconut when ready to use in the cake.

Make the coconut frosting. Make a Swiss meringue by mixing egg whites, turbinado sugar, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla paste in a large bowl and bringing it to 185F over simmering water, whisking constantly.  Transfer to Kitchen Aid type mixer and whisk at high-speed for about 12 minutes until temperature is around 90F.

Add butter, one tablespoon at a time, then add the coconut oil. Whisk a couple more minutes until fully smooth, and use right away. You can also store it in the fridge, bring it to 70F and whisk again before using.

Make the drip glaze. Warm all ingredients in a bowl over simmering water. Once chocolate is fully melted and incorporated with other ingredients, remove from heat. Cool to around 98F to use.

Assemble the cake. Place one layer over a cake board. Add a layer of coconut frosting, top with a small amount of coconut creme patissier. Add second layer of the cake, repeat filling. Add final third layer, frost top and sides with a crumb coat of frosting. Put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Add a final coating of the coconut frosting, work with a scraper to the remove a bit from the sides, exposing some of the layers. Place back in the fridge, so that it is very cold before you add the drip glaze.

Add the drip glaze with a spoon, dripping around the sides, then fill the top of the cake with a thin layer. Refrigerate again for 15 minutes or until the drip glaze is set. Add swirls of coconut buttercream, decorate the base with shredded coconut, if so desired.  Sprinkles are optional.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The chocolate cake is a favorite of mine. I’ve used it in the past, and was my cake of choice for a very special celebration back in December.  It is moist, it is intense, it holds well in layers. I was a bit worried that so much chocolate would obliterate the coconut component, but we are talking a duel between Ina and Stella, two Baking Titans. Stella Parks’ coconut frosting rose to the challenge.  I do think my little contribution of the creme pat was also pretty nice, so I discreetly offered myself a pat in the back.

Usually, when we think about chocolate cake with coconut frosting, the first idea that comes to mind is a mountain of white frosting with shredded coconut all over it. I don’t particularly care for the texture of shredded coconut when it is prominent like that. So for my personal taste this version is more appealing. And it does have a touch of elegance, I think.

I loved doing the drip glaze thing. It is not as dramatic as mirror-glazing, in fact it is much more Zen, because you can plan your drips and watch them form. Plan your drips. Yeah, that is one odd statement, but it’s the best I could do. It’s early and coffee has not kicked in yet.

I think this cake goes easily into my top five list. 

ONE YEAR AGO: Berry Rebellion Tarts 

TWO YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

THREE YEAR AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

SIX YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

NINE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

 

 

BROWNIES, THREE WAYS

I share with you three takes on a very simple bake, the deliciously humble brownie. What makes a brownie a  brownie? Tough to define precisely because lots of different recipes will take you to that territory. In general, it is a simple cake with just a few ingredients: butter, flour, chocolate, sugar and eggs. But a leavening agent might finds its way there also, in case the baker prefers a more cake-like version. Marriages have been damaged due to brownie divergencies. I advise you to date people who share your passion for fudgy or cakey. Back to what matters. My three versions are right here for you.

BROWNIE, TRADITIONAL

I like it to be dense, creamy, not cakey. I like a brownie with substance, but that melts in the mouth and brings with each bite a moment of introspection because words seem like such a waste.

This recipe, straight from the blog of Helen, my tent-baker friend, checks all the boxes.For the recipe, visit Bakers Anonymous with a click here.

BROWNIE, DRESSED UP

BROWNIE PIE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the pastry shell:
(makes more than you need, save the rest in the freezer)
310g  all purpose flour
30g powdered sugar
pinch of salt
170g butter (chilled and cut in small cubes)
3 egg yolks mixed with very cold water to make a volume of 6 tablespoons

for the chocolate brownie filling:
100 g coarsely chopped 70% chocolate
10 g  Dutch-process cocoa powder
120 g unsalted butter
180 g whole eggs
130 g granulated sugar
50 g all-purpose flour, sifted
powdered sugar for decoration (optional)

Heat the oven to 375F.

Put the flour, sugar and salt in food processor then add the butter and process until the butter is in small pieces. With the motor running add the mixture of egg yolks and cold water. Stop the mixer before the pastry forms a ball, remove it from the processor and gently bring it all together with your hands over plastic wrap. Shape into a flat disc and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 3mm. I like to do it in between two plastic sheets (I cut the four sides of a  large ziplock bag leaving just the bottom part attached, open it and roll the pastry inside it). Roll the dough as a circle large enough to cover the pan and leave a little extra around the sides. Place it in an 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Line the surface with plastic wrap and fill with beans. Wrap the plastic over the beans so that it does not touch the metal sides of the pan.  Blind bake for 15 minutes with the beans on, then carefully remove them and place the shell back in the oven for 20 more minutes. Remove and allow it to cool slightly.

Lower the temperature of the oven to 350 F.

Make the brownie filling. Gently melt the chocolate, cocoa powder and butter together in the microwave. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and sugar by hand. Fold in the dark chocolate mixture, followed by the sifted flour. Continue gently folding using a spatula until well combined. Place the finished mixture into the blind-baked tart shell and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is set in the center.

Allow it to cool and decorate with powdered sugar using a stencil, if you like. Refrigerate until serving time.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This was decadent. We offered pieces to some bricklayers working in a little project in our home and they were very VERY happy.  This recipe has just enough flour to hold it together, so it is almost like enjoying a piece of ready to  melt chocolate on top of a sweet tart shell. Bliss. 

Am I the only one who sees a cute alien?

Now finally, my third version for you…

BROWNIE BITES, FOR FUN

BROWNIE BITES
(adapted from The Cookery Wife)

95 g all-purpose flour
200 g granulated sugar
75 g cocoa powder (I used natural)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, (1 stick, 113 g), room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla paste
2 Tablespoons full-fat milk (optional)

Heat oven to 350F.

Spray your mini-cake pan with baking spray containing flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa, salt. Stir to combine. Next, add eggs, vanilla, butter. Mix on low for 30 seconds, add the milk and mix on medium-high for 2 full minutes. Batter will be very thick. Place it in a piping bag (no need for piping tip). Cut an opening and fill the mini-cakes between 1/2 and 3/4 full.

Using the tip of your finger coated with a bit of butter, press the batter to smooth it out. Bake for 15 minutes until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.

A toothpick can help loosen the sides, but be gentle.  Cool completely over a rack before decorating with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

First of all, don’t let the lack of a mini-cute-Bundt pan stop you from making these bites. A mini-muffin alternative will work just as well. But, you know I cannot resist a baking gadget. I was a bit afraid of them sticking to the pan, but most came out just with a gentle flip of the pan (see photo, bottom left). Just a few stayed in, but were also released with a gentle tap, no harm done. I think filling them just a little over half capacity is the ticket. If some of them dome a bit, you can gently shave the bump with a small serrated knife, so they will sit leveled.

They have great flavor and the texture is not dense, even though the batter started so thick. You can decorate them with powdered sugar, a drizzle of caramel, melted chocolate. I happened to have some leftover white chocolate ganache from a macaron adventure, so I added a touch of that to most of them. They are perfect to bring to parties or share with co-workers. I will bake them regularly, my next project will involve a lemon cake. The idea is to avoid cake batters that are too light, you need more substance to get them to unmold nicely and keep the overall design.

ONE YEAR AGO: Berry Rebellion Tarts  (one of my favorite blog posts)

TWO YEAR AGO: Emilie Raffa’s High Hydration Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: Short-Ribs with Chickpeas and Chard

FOUR YEARS AGO: Asian-Style Short Ribs 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Herbed Goat Cheese Souffles

SIX YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Scallops with Black Pasta in Orange Cream Sauce

NINE YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn

TEN YEARS AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo

ORANGE STREUSEL CAKE & THE JOYS OF BAKING BOOK REVIEW

I will never write a cookbook. Having said that, IF I ever wrote one, I would like it to be along the lines of The Joys of Baking, by Samantha Seneviratne. As Dorie Greenspan writes in her endorsement: A sweet meditation on why we bake… the book is a delight.

I couldn’t have said it better, Dorie summarized it all. I contacted Samantha and she gave me permission to publish one recipe on the blog. I had quite a hard time choosing which one to share, but decided to go with her Orange Streusel Cake, because its preparation is quite unusual and the cake turned out absolutely perfect for my taste.  But I will also show you pictures of another recipe from the book, Samantha’s  Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars. Because… ginger…

ORANGE STREUSEL CAKE
(from The Joys of Baking, published with permission from Samantha Seneviratne)

For the streusel:
½ cup (65g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted (I used half the butter)
1/2 cup (15g) sliced almonds

for the cake:
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 entire navel orange (about 280 g), seeded, cut into large chunks
¼ cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
1 +1/2 cups (195g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

for the glaze:
3 to 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup (90g) powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Prepare the streusel: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and stir to incorporate. The mixture should clump together when squeezed. Toss in the almonds. Prepare the cake: Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 opposite sides. Butter the parchment.

Place the orange in a blender and process until it is the texture of applesauce. It’s okay if you have a few larger pieces. You should have about 1 cup of orange purée. Add the sour cream and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Beat in the orange mixture, then beat in the remaining half of the flour mixture.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Top with the streusel mixture. Squeeze the streusel to form a range of differently sized clumps. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Then, using the parchment overhang as handles, transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the glaze (if using): In a small bowl, whisk the orange juice into the confectioners’ sugar, adding a little less juice for a thicker glaze that will look lovely on top of the cake, or a little more for a thinner glaze that will soak in. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am very fond of marinades that use a whole lemon instead of its juice or zest, so the moment I saw that the cake called for a full orange turned into a pulp in the food processor, I knew I had to give it a try. You cannot get much more orange-y than that. And the drizzle of icing sugar/orange juice beautifully seals the deal. The cake is moist, feels rich but light at the same time, if at all possible.

Do you notice the little bits of orange throughout the crumb?
Absolute yumminess.

Now let me share with you a little teaser of a recipe. Originally I was going to focus the blog post on this one, because it was a huge hit when I took it to the Common Table meal (meals for homeless in our town). Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars…

It starts as a very smooth batter, pretty much like a brownie, a one-bowl deal.

Then you swirl a mascarpone cream into it, and marvel at the way it looks.

The crumb is tight, full of gingerbread flavor, and you get that delicious sharp contrast of the mascarpone every now and then. This will please anyone.

Now, a virtual tour of Samantha’s book.

From her introductory chapter, I cut and paste her words…

Cooking is a necessity. Everyone needs to eat. Preparing a special meal can be a joy, of course, but often it feels like a chore, just another item on an endless list of things that must get done. Baking is different. Baking is a choice. Baking is never a necessity. No one needs a chocolate cake to survive. Except, sometimes, a chocolate cake is exactly what you need to survive. Sometimes, a chocolate cake is the only thing you need in the world. This is a book about and for those times.

I was touched by this paragraph, it really echoes with the way I view baking. She then moved to talk about the tragic life story of Irma Rombauer,  the woman behind the most classic American cookbook of all times, The Joy of Cooking. I was unaware of it, and once again Samantha’s words touched me.

The Joys of Baking is inspired by the book that Irma Rombauer could have written. It’s the story of baking my way through my own heartbreak—of what happened when the parts of my life I thought would be the best turned out to be the worst, and when the things I thought would make me happy almost wrecked me, and why they didn’t.

The book is divided in chapters that have nothing to do with baking categories. They are: Courage, Grace, Bliss, Love, and Wisdom.  Each chapter and each recipe starts with a small paragraph that is like a tiny little window into Samantha’s soul. The window might be tiny, but the image it shows is very bright. 

From this chapter, many recipes tempted me to get into the kitchen and start baking. Coconut and Passion Fruit Pound Cake, a breathtakingly gorgeous Chocolate Cardamon Babka, Earl Grey Pain au Chocolat, the Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars (photo included in this post), and a Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bun with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze (wow!).

The chapter opens with Salted Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Caramels. Of course, when a person wears braces, she will be fiercely drawn towards caramels, brittles, and nougats, even if before having braces those items were rarely part of her life. Anyway, I will make these babies the moment I get rid of my torture devices. Coffee Creme Bundt Cake, is beautiful and preceded by a heart-warming bit about her Dad. As always, just a little paragraph, just enough to make you smile and wonder if you haven’t been too narrow-minded about your thoughts about food.  Next comes a recipe I really wanted to feature in the blog, but did not have a chance to make yet. Ready to dream? Creme Brulle Tart with Pears and Chocolate. Yes, this will be in our kitchen at some point in the near future.  Danish Sugar Cookies with Currants and LemonPistachio and Praline PuffsSunshine Wreath (a thing of beauty!).

From this chapter the first thing that caught my eye was a shortbread, a recent weakness of mine. Her version is a Chocolate Almond Spelt Shortbread. Looks really tasty. Brownie Cake with Candied Hazelnuts and Whipped Cream...  Coconut BunsGingered Cashew Nut Brittle (blame it on the braces)…  Graham Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting (just adorable)…  Another heavy contender to be featured is We are Nuts About Nuts Cookies. Little sugar cookie rectangles dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with ground pistachio nuts. Just lovely. Orange Streusel Cake, featured today, is also in this chapter.


The chapter opens with my favorite little story of her book. Just a few thoughts about JFK Airport in New York City. More specifically about the arrivals gate.  “Where shopping and dining isn’t the point. It’s all about the crowd along the barriers.”  Just perfect.

From this final chapter, I would gladly try her Apple Snack Cake...  Barley Oat BiscuitsCinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels (the picture is enough to make your heart missed a few beats)… Lemon Lime Earl Grey Sables...  Maple Cream Pie…  Orange Pistachio BunsSaffron and Chocolate Tea Cake…  and the very last recipe of the book, Unorthodox Challah with Dates and Cocoa.

I hope you enjoyed my little review and consider inviting this gem of a cookbook into your home. Samantha, thank you for allowing me to share a recipe with my readers. I look forward to baking more goodies from your book, and reading again and again your stories behind each one.

ONE YEAR AGO: Pink Praline Brioche

TWO YEARS AGO: A Spinach Salad to Write Home About

THREE YEARS AGO: Karen’s Four Hour French Country Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

SIX YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

NINE YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

TEN YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

 

THE HOME BAKERS COLLECTIVE: JANUARY PROJECT

I am thrilled to share this post today, because it gives me the chance to invite all my readers to visit a new blog, a blog that started from the experience of 9 lucky campers baking together in a certain tent in London. Our cozy virtual spot is The Home Bakers Collective, and we want it to be a place to share culinary experiences, stories,  recipes, and also get feedback from readers. Every month one of us will design a group project and we will work independently on it and show our concoctions on the last day of the month. Sounds like fun?  I definitely think so.

Helen was the first to come up with something for January. Her brief: make a roll cake inspired by your favorite cocktail or drink. It did not take me very long to settle on my choice: a Cosmopolitan-inspired cake!

VIRGIN COSMOPOLITAN ROLL CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, filling adapted from this site)

for the decoration:
50g  butter, softened
50g powdered sugar
50g  egg whites
50g  all-purpose flour
black, pink and green gel food dye

for the cake:
130g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
200 g granulated sugar, divided (100g + 100g)
Zest of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
powdered sugar for rolling

for the filling:
3 cups fresh cranberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
227 g unsalted butter, softened (1 cup)
360 g cups powdered sugar, sifted (about 3 cups)

Make the piping decoration by beating the butter with powdered sugar in a small bowl until fully combined. I used a hand-held electric mixer. Add the egg whites and beat for a couple of minutes. Add the flour and mix by hand with a spoon, divide in three portions.  Color them black, pink and green.

Draw the design you want to have on the surface of the cake with a pencil on parchment paper that fits a half-sheet baking pan. Invert the paper so that the pencil mark is at the bottom. Pipe the icing using a very thin piping tip. Freeze the whole tray with the decoration for at least one hour. When the time is almost up, prepare the cake batter.

Heat oven to 400°F.  Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl. Reserve. Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle 100 g of granulated sugar over the yolks, and beat on high speed until the mixture ribbons and is very pale and thick, about 8 minutes. Add the lime zest and lemon extract. Beat until just combined.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and fit the standing mixer with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Sprinkle the cream of tartar and salt over the egg whites and continue beating on medium-high until soft peaks begin to form. Reduce the speed to medium, then slowly stream in the remaining 100 g granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and stiff but not dry. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold half of the sifted flour mixture into the yolk mixture, then half of the remaining egg whites. Gently fold in the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining egg whites. Transfer the batter into the pan with the frozen pattern on it, and very gently smooth the top into an even layer with an offset spatula. Bake the cake until it begins to pull away from the sides, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a cooling rack, cover the cake with a towel and let it cool fr 10 minutes. Remove the towel, sift a little powdered sugar over the surface and flip it over parchment paper. Gently peel off the paper with the design, flip the cake again over a towel with a little dusting of powdered sugar on the surface. Starting with a short side of the cake, roll the cake gently, using the towel to support the cake as you go. Let the cake cool all rolled up in the towel, seam side down.

Prepare the filling. Cook cranberries, sugar, pomegranate molasses and a splash of water in a saucepan on medium heat until the cranberries break down and into a thick, juicy mixture. Puree the cranberries in a high-speed blender until perfectly smooth. Chill. You will need ½ cup of this mixture to make the buttercream.

Put the soft butter, sifted sugar, cream of tartar, and 1/2 cup of the cranberry-pomegranate puree into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat, scraping down the sides often, for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Unroll the cake, fill and roll back, keeping the seam down.  Slice and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are intimidated by baking a cake with a “printed” pattern, please don’t be. Even if you are artistically challenged like me, simple drawings are easy (although I must say my hand was shaking a bit when I started piping). Just remember that different colors piped side by side will mix. Pipe the outline first, put the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes, and add the second color to fill the design, if that’s the case.  For my Virgin Cosmopolitan glasses, I did all the black outlines first, froze it, and finished with pink and green after.  It is a lot of fun, particularly that moment in which you peel off the parchment paper.

Also keep in mind that you don’t need to have the design on the whole area, as some of it will be rolled and hidden.  I just made sure I covered enough not to go into “pattern-anxiety.”

I tried two different recipes for the cake itself, and settled on the one I am sharing. You need to get good volume as you beat the yolks and later the whites, and use a gentle hand to mix them together. The baking powder made the cake rise quite a bit more than a version I made without it. I think you might get by with 3/4 tsp of baking powder for the same amount of batter.

The filling. I wanted to add fresh pomegranate seeds after spreading the buttercream, but that day I could not find them in the two main grocery stores in town. I got some frozen but they are just to watery and I skipped them. Be warned: do not taste the cranberry/pomegranate buttercream before spreading on the cake, or you might not have enough. So, so delicious! I actually had leftovers that went into some macarons the following week. At the present time, I have 6 macaron recipes patiently waiting to be shared with you. I know. Some obsessions do not seem to end.

BogeyQT™ understands obsession…

I hope you enjoyed my little roll cake, but please make sure to stop by “the collective” to see what my friends came up with (post might take a couple of hours to be published, just try a little later if it’s not there  yet). I heard that next month’s challenge will be pretty cool, but until then we’ll have some cool stuff to share with you. Stop by to say hello, we would love to have you there.

ONE YEAR AGO: Bouillabaise for a Chilly Evening

TWO YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

SIX YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

NINE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

A CAKE TO SAY I LOVE YOU FROM KIM-JOY’S COOKBOOK


Of the many contestants of The Great British Bake Off, I cannot think of anyone sweeter and more lovely than Kim-Joy. Her talent as a baker goes way beyond mixing sugar with butter, she turns everything she touches into little works of art. Her love for animals and nature is often present in cakes, cookies, all things pastry. I have mixed feelings about Instagram, to me it often passes a pseudo-glamour aura. But when you stumble on Kim-Joy’s instagram feed, you realize it is just one more venue in which she shows how special and caring a person she is. And of course, you can marvel at all she is baking now, a couple of years down the road from her amazing performance in a certain tent.

Every year I ask Phil to choose a cake for his Birthday, which falls right after Christmas. Last month, he saw Kim Joy’s book over the table and announced that his cake would have to be from her book. It took him just a few minutes to come back with “This one. Woodland Cake.”  Sure. A three-layer cake with ganache frosting, home-made praline’, ginger cookies, mushroom-shaped meringues,  and a gigantic sheet of white chocolate, well-tempered. In other words, a cake that says I really, really love you.

Kim-Joy offers several suggestions for the chocolate cake, in the book she opted for a vegan version. I’ve been meaning to try Ina Garten’s intense chocolate cake for a while, so I decided to go with it.  I used the ginger cookies from Kim Joy’s book and also her Royal icing, but will share only the other components of the cake.

WOODLAND CAKE
(published with permission from Kim-Joy)

for the cake:
used the recipe from Ina Garten, available here
(exact amounts as shown, baked in 3 cake pans, 6 inch diameter)

for chocolate bark:
100g brown candy melts
500g white chocolate, tempered

for coconut-chocolate ganache:
400g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
300 mL coconut milk
100 to 250g powdered sugar

for praline’:
130g super fine sugar
35mL water
1 tsp liquid cornstarch (optional)
75g hazelnuts peeled and toasted

for mushroom meringue:
140g superfine sugar
80g egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar

for cookies (optional):
use any favorite recipe for gingerbread cookies

Bake the cake according to the recipe in the link, using 3 round pans with 6-inch in diameter. Cool completely. It can be prepared a couple of days in advance, reserve in the fridge.

Make the chocolate bark. Lay out a rectangular piece of parchment paper measuring roughly 9 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches. Melt the brown candy melts gently in the microwave. Use a paintbrush to paint dots and stripes to mimi the pattern of a birch tree. Let it cool to harden.

Temper the white chocolate and pour on top of the paper with the design already painted and set. Spread gently with an offset spatula to get a smooth, thin coating. Once the chocolate sets, break into pieces of bark (easier way to do it is by hand, using a knife tends to shatter the pieces). Reserve. Can be prepared the day before.

Make the mushroom meringues. Heat the oven to 400F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the sugar over it. Bake for about 8 minutes until warm but not caramelized.  Leave the door open for the sugar to cool down to about 212F.

Add the egg whites to a KitchenAid type mixer and whisk at high speed until you get soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar then the baked sugar very slowly, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, allowing it to dissolve before adding more.  Transfer to a piping bag and pipe small blobs to be the head of the mushrooms and small stalks piping with the bag straight up, to form the stalks.

Bake at 200F for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on how dry you like them to be. Switch the oven off and leave the meringues inside for a couple of hours to get the meringues fully dry. To form the mushrooms, make a small hole in the bottom of the “caps”, and use some melted chocolate or candy melts to glue the stalk into it. Shower the mushrooms with cocoa powder if you like.

Make the praline paste. Add the sugar, water and cornstarch to a pan. Stir to combine, then stop stirring, bring to a boil. Meanwhile spread the hazelnuts over a Silpat or parchment paper. When the sugar mixture turns amber in color, pour quickly over the hazelnuts, and allow it to fully set. Break into pieces and place in a food processor, blitzing it into a paste. Reserve.

Make the coconut ganache. Place the chocolate in a large Pyrex type bowl. Heat the coconut milk until it starts to bubble. Pour over the chocolate and let it sit undisturbed for 2 minutes. Stir until fully smooth. Add the sugar and whisk with a handheld mixer until just combined. Transfer 2/3 of the ganache to a bowl and chill for 15 minutes.  This portion will be used to coat the cake.

Add the praline paste to the remaining 1/3 of the ganache.  This will be used to fill the cake layers.

Optional step: Bake gingerbread cookies in the shape of your choice to decorate the cake, icing them if you like.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Place one cake layer over a cardboard round and add ganache/praline mixture on top. Place second layer of cake, repeat the spreading of ganache, and the final cake layer on top. Coat the sides and top with the pure ganache.  Set the cake in the fridge for an hour or so. Transfer it to the serving platter.

Adjust the size of the chocolate bark so that pieces will overlap the cake all around and have more or less similar heights. Remember that nature is never fully perfect, so go with the flow.  Melt some candy melts if needed, for the bark to stick better to the cake.

Add the cookies and meringue on top of the cake, spread some coconut flakes around the bottom, a few more meringues. Say I love you, and serve!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If there is anything more fun to bake than this cake, I don’t know what it could be. As Kim-Joy says in the book, you don’t have to make every single component in her cakes, but if you decide to do, just go slowly, make them ahead of time. The meringues I made 5 days earlier and froze. The cookies last days at room temperature, the bark also can be made 3, 4 days ahead. All of a sudden it becomes quite doable. Bake the cakes, make the praline and ganache, and you are pretty much done.  If tempering chocolate gets you into severe hyperventilation, you can use candy melts. It won’t taste as good, but the visual effect will be similar and everyone will be impressed.

And now, allow me to share a little review of Baking with Kim-Joy

BAKE, BE ADVENTUROUS, AND ABOVE ALL, BE HAPPY!
(Kim-Joy)

If you love color and happy feelings, this book is for you. It is pure Kim in each page, every little detail of the book, from cute drawings to uplifting messages, it is impossible not to browse without a smile. Just as I wrote this phrase, I opened the book and saw the very first page:

Cute and Creative Bakes to Make you Smile.  

See? What did I just tell you?

The book is divided in 5 chapters: Cakes and Frosting, Cookies and Icing, Breads, Square Cakes and Little Bakes. I will go chapter by chapter sharing my thoughts

CAKES AND FROSTING. She opens the chapter (actually she opens the book) with a cake that took my breath away, not only because it is gorgeous, but the flavors! Pistachio and Cardamom Cake with Mango-Saffron Jam. The cake is naked, she offers different versions of buttercream to lightly coat it, and the top is sprinkled with ground pistachios in a very simple but artistic way. I adore it. I will make the mango jam very soon. Next comes the Vegan Chocolate Cake with Praline, which would be her cake of choice for the Woodland Cake I shared today.  The whole idea behind her book is to use it as a starting point. For instance her Spiced Carrot & Walnut Cake shows up as a regular cake, but then she dresses it up for Halloween adding meringue ghosts and poached pears, for stunning decoration. Stunning and fun at the same time.  You can also find a Rainbow Cake (how could she not include one?) but coupled with the perfect type of icing, and if you want to go the extra mile, make it a cake that holds something unexpected inside as you slice it open. Yes, get her book!  Easter Cake, Cat Paradise, Space Turtle (!!!!), Whale Underwater Cake, one more interesting than the other, each offering a unique type of decorating, sometimes with gingerbread little sculptures, sugar paste, isomalt, dripping ganache.  The chapter ends with several types of frostings and decorating techniques.

COOKIES AND ICINGS. She offers four basic cookie recipes, advising on when to use each. Semolina Shortbread, Ginger Cookies (that I used in the cake, her version has the right amount of cloves for our taste), Basic Vegan Shortbread, and Vegan Ginger Cookies. Then she moves to  cookie decorating tips and ideas, starting with her small batch of Royal Icing. I love that. In fact, I’ve been using her small scale version quite often, because I hate to have a huge amount of Royal Icing hanging around. I now know pretty much how much I need, and might make her recipe or maybe double it, but never need more than that.

BREADS. The book opens with a recipe using tangzhong, which is a technique I found not too long ago and love to use. She uses it to make adorable cat buns, of course, and immediately follows with a version that bakes a Honey Wreath of little cats around a wheel of camembert cheese. It is just the cutest bread you’ll ever see. A No-Knead overnight Caraway Bread also calls my name. She shares a recipe for a Japanese classic bread called “Melonpan” which again, is going to bring a huge smile to your face once you see it. The type of baking that if you have kids around, you definitely must embrace.

SQUARE CAKES. I want to bake every single cake of this chapter. It is color, and art, and fun all around. I don’t have the artistic skill to do some of them, but maybe with Phil’s help I could give the Lavender and Orange Cake a try. It looks like a Monet’s painting.

LITTLE BAKES. Macarons. The chapter starts with macaron tips and ideas. You can imagine my happy dance, right? Honestly, some shapes seem very challenging, but it is nice to see how creative one can be with macaron piping. She moves to other types of cookies, like Cardamon, Almond and Honey Bee Cookies that use her basic Semolina Shortbread flavored with a touch of cardamon. The decoration in the cookies is just amazing, they end up like cute little bees, each with a unique “expression.” After that comes choux buns, tartlets and madeleines, that she transforms into little works of art. Just mind blowing.  This final chapter alone is worth the whole book, in my opinion.

I cannot say that her book is for beginners, maybe it would be a bit too challenging for someone who has never baked a cake or a batch of cookies. But if you are passionate about baking, the book is a must-have, no matter your skill level.

Kim-Joy, thank you so much for giving me permission to share this recipe, and for being a constant source of inspiration for those who love to bake.

ONE YEAR AGO: Lemon-Almond Cake with Cranberry Glaze

TWO YEARS AGO: The Iron (Uptake) Chef Challenge

THREE YEARS AGO: Thank you!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Salmon Rillettes, a Classy Appetizer

FIVE YEARS AGO: Linzer Cookies

SIX YEARS AGO: Baked Ricotta, Take Two

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Uncanned

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pork Ragu

NINE YEARS AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

TEN YEARS AGO: Celery and Apple Salad

TROPICAL SUNSHINE ENTREMET CAKE

I know, winter is still with us, and it will be for a while. But I cannot resist a shout to what’s to come in a few weeks. This entremet cake celebrates summer in a tropical paradise, any paradise of your choice. Coconut and passion fruit, for a creamy and refreshing mousse cake.

TROPICAL SUNSHINE ENTREMET CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

Silikomart mold:  Lady Queen

Two days before – make passion fruit insert and freeze.

One day before – make cake layer and coconut  mousse. Assemble cake and freeze. 

Showtime Day – make mirror glaze, glaze cake and defrost before serving

For coconut dacquoise layer
140g egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
170g  sugar
80g almond flour
60g desiccated coconut (I used coconut powder, a product from Sri Lanka)
28g  all purpose flour, sifted
20g butter, melted and cooled

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, place the egg whites, cream of tartar and whisk until foamy and a trail starts to form as the beater goes through the egg whites  Gradually add in the sugar until firm peaks form. Gently fold the almond meal, desiccated coconut and flour into the egg whites in 3-4 additions. Fold some of the mixture into the melted butter before adding back into the rest of the mixture and folding until combined.

Spread into a half Flexipat or a lined baking tray and bake at 400 F°C for about 9 min.  Cool,  freeze for 10 min and cut in the appropriate shape to fit the bottom of the mold. You will have cake leftover.

For passion fruit cremeux:
160g passion fruit juice/pulp
4g gelatin + 20ml cold water
100g sugar
4 egg yolks
20g cornstarch
120g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bloom the gelatin in cold water.

Bring the passion fruit juice to the boiling point in a saucepan. In the meantime, mix the egg yolks with sugar until pale. Add the cornstarch and mix well. Pour the hot passion fruit puree over the egg yolk mixture then return back on heat and cook on low just until thickened and it reaches 185 F.

Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin. Allow to cool down to 105F then add the butter and mix well. Pour the cremeux into the smaller mold of the kit Lady Queen.

For coconut mousse:
1 can coconut milk – approx 400ml
10g gelatin + 50ml cold water
2 egg whites
120g granulated sugar
60ml water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150ml heavy cream, whipped to consistency of melted ice cream

Bloom the gelatin in cold water.

Heat up the coconut milk just until warm then remove from heat and stir in the gelatin and vanilla. Let it cool while you make an Italian meringue. Boil the sugar and water in a saucepan until it reaches 240 F.

While the sugar syrup cooks, whip the whites until fluffy. Pour the hot syrup over the whipped whites and continue mixing for a few more minutes until glossy and stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the coconut milk mixture then add the meringue.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place coconut mousse in the large Lady Queen mold filling halfway. Carefully drop the frozen insert. Fill with mousse almost to the top, cover with the cake.

Freeze the whole thing overnight. Un-mold and glaze on the day you want to enjoy the cake.

For mirror glaze:
3 sheets Platinum grade sheet gelatin
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
1 tsp agar-agar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
½ tsp titanium oxide (optional, but advisable)
yellow and orange gel food coloring

Put the water, sugar, liquid glucose and agar-agar in a small pan and bring to simmering point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This is the base syrup for the glaze.  Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in some cold water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and stir into the hot water, sugar and liquid glucose mixture to dissolve. Stir in the condensed milk and the titanium oxide.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. A stick immersion blender works great, but you must keep the blades fully submerged at all times. If bubbles are present, pass the mixture through a fine sieve. When the glaze is at around 105 F, separate a small amount to dye yellow and a small amount to dye orange. Add them on top of the white glaze, do not mix too much, just a delicate swirl with a chopstick.

The ideal temperature to glaze is 92 to 94 F. Glaze the frozen cake. Defrost 2 hours in fridge before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used a Silikomart mold kit called “Lady Queen“, but you can improvise and make it in a circular mold with the insert made in a smaller ring. Or make individual semi-sphere cakes. The amounts I am giving you will leave you with some leftover coconut mousse, which freezes well in small amounts if you’d like to have a simple dessert later. The passionfruit insert is just right for the kit.

I really liked the way this cake turned out. Full disclosure: the chocolate decorations were added to hide some capital sins. I made a few wrong assumptions about the amount of glaze needed. The cake is only 7 inches in diameter, smaller than most cakes I am used to mirror-glazing, so I did a single batch of glaze. It is ok if you use a single color, but to make a white, yellow and orange with enough to cover all sides, it would be better to have about 25% more. However, I do believe you can get by with the exact amount I include in the recipe, IF you pay attention to the glaze as it drips down the sides, to notice right away if there are gaps. I was way too optimistic and careless. When I realized the gaps, it was time for a big adrenaline rush, followed by quickly scraping glaze from the baking sheet, and trying to fix as many boo-boos as possible. Good thing I had some tempered chocolate decorations in the freezer, so I put them to use. I am also quite grateful for the absence of cameras during baking disasters at home. Feels amazing to be able to deal with them without having to channel my inner Lucille Ball.

The dacquoise had a very nice coconut flavor and great texture. I think the mousse was a perfect match for the passionfruit cream, both in color and flavor. The way the mold is designed makes it for a pretty large insert, so it ended up a bit heavy and had a tendency to sink to the bottom. I believe they could have made the insert a tad smaller, but who am I to criticize Silikomart? Pouring less volume in the insert could be a solution, but it will have a higher chance to break as you un-mold it.  Overall, those are minor details and I am ok with the way it all worked.

This Tropical Sunshine Entremet Cake was the first dessert in the Mondays with Sweetness 2020 series. I hope our colleagues enjoyed it.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Freekeh with Zucchini and Almonds

TWO YEARS AGO: Salmon a la Wellington, re-visited

THREE YEARS AGO: The Unbearable Unfairness of Cake Baking

FOUR YEARS AGO: Hermit Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cremini Mushroom Meatloaf

SIX YEARS AGO: Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s Roast Chicken with Clementines

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Eight-Ball Zucchini: The Missing Files

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons

NINE YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch

TEN YEARS AGO: Ossobuco Milanese: an Italian Classic

SANTA HAT MINI-MOUSSE CAKES

In case you’ve missed my big announcement:
7 days to showtime!

I believe that once Thanksgiving is over, we are allowed to go deep into all sorts of end of the year festivities. Christmas included. Having said that, I am ready to share little mousse cakes I’ve been flirting with for a couple of years. As I stumbled on cute examples on Pinterest, Instagram, and food blogs, I kept telling myself I had to give them a go. My version pairs white chocolate mousse (plus a touch of yogurt) with raspberries. I had a lot of fun making them, and even more fun sharing with our colleagues from the department.

SANTA HAT MINI-MOUSSE CAKES
(adapted from several sources, main inspiration from Lilicakes)

For the sable base:
100g icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste
150g unsalted butter
50g egg yolks
50g almond meal
250g all-purpose flour

Place the icing sugar, vanilla bean paste and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until there are no lumps of butter left. Add in the egg yolks and combine before adding the almond meal and plain flour. Continue beating until it just comes together. Remove the dough from the stand mixer and place on top of a silicone mat, press it gently in a rectangle shape.

Add a very small amount of flour on top of the dough, add a piece of parchment paper on top and roll it to 3mm thickness. Cut circles slightly bigger than the size of your dome cakes.  Freeze for 10 min. Bake in a 350F oven for around 8 minutes, until you get a slight golden color on the edges. Let it cool completely on a rack.  Can be prepared a couple of days in advance.

for the raspberry insert (make the day before assembling):
175g raspberry puree (I used frozen, processed and sieved)
15g maple syrup
3 sheets gelatin (Platinum grade)

Soak gelatin leaves in cold water for 10 min. Bring the raspberry puree and maple syrup to a gentle boil, remove from heat, let it stand for 5 min to cool down slightly. Add the drained gelatin and mix well. Place the mixture in semi-sphere molds appropriate to place in the center of your dome cakes. Freeze overnight or for at least 4 hours.

for the white chocolate mousse:
110 grams of cream cheese at room temperature
200 grams of Greek yogurt at room temperature
225 grams of white chocolate
6 grams of gelatin leaves
50 grams of milk
180 grams of whipping cream
1 T sugar

Hydrate the gelatin leaves in very cold water for 10 mon. Mix the cream cheese and yogurt with in a KitchenAid type mixer with a paddle attachment until homogeneous. Reserve. In a saucepan boil the milk and add the previously hydrated jelly leaves, mix and add to the yogurt-cream cheese mixture. Mix for a minute or so to disperse the gelatin through.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave and add to the yogurt mixture. Reserve. Whip the cream until it gets the consistency of melted ice cream. Fold gently into the yogurt mixture.

Assemble the mini-cakes:
Place mousse in six semi-sphere molds, filling a little more than half its volume. Place the frozen raspberry jelly in the center, fill with mousse and level the top with an off-set spatula. Freeze overnight.

for the marshmallow decorations.
9g powdered gelatin (I used fish gelatin, 250 bloom)
50g very cold water
60g egg whites at room temperature
17g  + 165g superfine sugar (divided)
50g water
35g glucose syrup or light corn syrup (light)
1 tsp Chambord (optional)

Bloom the gelatin in cold water for 10 min. It will form a thick paste.

Whisk the egg whites with 17 g of sugar until it foamy. Add the gelatin, whisk for another minute and turn the mixer off.

In a heavy saucepan, bring 50g of water, 165g sugar and glucose to a boil, making sure the sugar dissolves fully. Heat the mixture to 250F, when it gets to that point, turn the mixer on full speed and drizzle the hot syrup on it while whisking. Whisk at full speed for 3 minutes, add Chambord, continue whisking for 2 more minutes.

Add the marshmallow to a piping bag with an 8mm round tip. Pipe lines long enough to circle the diameter of your mold. Pipe little molds for the hats. Sprinkle dessicated coconut all over. Reserve at room temperature for about 3 hours.

For the mirror glaze:
3 sheets Platinum grade sheet gelatine
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
1 tsp agar-agar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
red gel food coloring

Put the water, sugar, liquid glucose and agar-agar in a small pan and bring to simmering point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This is the base syrup for the glaze.  Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in some cold water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and stir into the hot water, sugar and liquid glucose mixture to dissolve. Stir in the condensed milk.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. A stick immersion blender works great, but you must keep the blades fully submerged at all times. If bubbles are present, pass the mixture through a fine sieve.

Leave the glaze uncovered for an hour at room temperature for the glaze to cooled and be slightly thickened: if it is too runny you will get too thin a layer on top, colors will not blend well and less glaze will cling to the sides of the cake. The ideal temperature to pour the glaze is 92 to 94 F.

Remove the cake from the freezer, place on a rack over a baking sheet. If you like to make it easier to save leftover glaze, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, so that you can lift it and pour easily into a container.

Glaze the cakes, place them over the reserve sable cookies and decorate with the marshmallow.

Defrost in fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I know, I know, the recipe is a mile long. Let me focus on a couple of points about it. First, I am kicking rules to the side and confessing to you that I will never chill my sable dough before rolling it out. It is a bit on the soft side once it comes out of the mixer, but trust me, it will be fine. Place it gently over Silpat. Roll it under parchment paper to the thickness you need, in this case 3mm. If you have those plastic pastry rolling guides, now is the perfect time to use them.  The more uniform the thickness, the better they will bake. Roll, cut and freeze. I actually made two batches of bases, one of them pistachio-based, but used the almond, lighter ones for this dessert.

One of the benefits of being in “that show”, is that I had to learn to work very fast and save time at every opportunity. I realized that as long as you protect the pastry dough either with plastic wrap or parchment paper (it truly depends on our goal, for pie crusts plastic wrap is the best way), it rolls pretty nicely as soon as mixed. Much better than cold dough does.  Ten minutes in the freezer is all you need before baking. There, I saved you at least one hour of work!

Second point I want to make: I adore mirror glazes but don’t care for their texture. Colette Christian has a beautiful macaron cookbook in which she advises using a bit of agar together with gelatin for macaron fillings, particularly if they will sit at room temperature for a while. I immediately thought about incorporating that trick into mirror glazes. And I am thrilled to tell you that the texture got a lot better. I will play with it in the near future to optimize it, but if you also like the look of mirror glazes but would prefer a more sturdy texture, think of adding a bit of agar. The only thing is that it needs to be boiled, so add it together with the sugar/glucose mixture.

These cakes turned out exactly the way I wanted them to, the only tricky part was placing the decorations, as marshmallow is super sticky. Just work slowly and keep in mind that wherever it sticks first, that’s where it will be… Be careful with the positioning of the string in the beginning, so that the angle is right to wrap it around keeping it nicely on the same level all the way.

I cannot resist posting one more photo of the little Santa Hats, as the light bulb of my light stand made a cool effect on the mirror glaze…

The inclusion of agar-agar in the mirror glaze did a nice job improving the texture. Since my mousse cakes always sit in the fridge overnight before they are shared with our colleagues, the gelatin-based glaze suffers a bit. Whenever I  slice them, there is some bleeding and sliding of the glaze. This time it behaved a lot better, so thank you Chef Colette!

I hope you consider making some Santa Hats for your holiday get-together. As usual, this type of dessert can be prepared over several days, with very little hands-on work each day. As for the molds I used, the large ones are here, the small ones here. I had a little leftover mousse, which I froze into a pretty cute Silikomart mold, and served over a sable base, with a little spray of white chocolate velvet.

ONE YEAR AGO: Fun with Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: Pasteis de Nata

THREE YEARS AGO: New Mexico Pork Chile, Crockpot Version

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chocolate on Chocolate

FIVE YEARS AGO: Double Chocolate and Mint Cookies

SIX YEARS AGO: The Story of my first Creme Brulle’

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sourdough Mini-rolls

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Focaccia with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Gorgonzola

NINE YEARS AGO: Mediterranean Skewers

TEN YEARS AGO Fettuccine with Shrimp, Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes