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.

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THE DOBOS TORTE


Several years ago I saw a recipe for Dobos Torte in a website and the image of those thin cake layers joined together with chocolate buttercream, plus the interesting crown of caramelized cake made me wish I could taste a piece right then through the screen. I said to myself I would be making it really soon. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and I swear it’s been at least 3 years if not more in my plans. Finally, I went for it, and it was one of the most rewarding experiments in our kitchen. I enjoyed the preparation of each component, and loved how they came together nicely. But what really makes this cake is the decoration on top. You must get the caramel dark enough so that it will stay hard on the cake, otherwise it might start to weep and you lose the textural contrast. This is definitely a cake fit for a special occasion. Like a gray Monday early in November that brought with it unexpected snow showers.

THE DOBOS TORTE
(adapted from a recipe from Chef Wilhelm Wanders)

for the sponge cake layers:
140 g egg yolks
120 g granulated sugar, divided (60 + 60g)
2 g salt
1 tsp vanilla paste
210 g egg whites
120 g all-purpose Flour
40 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

for the chocolate buttercream:
250g granulated sugar
250 g whole eggs
550 g unsalted butter at room temperature
200 g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)

for the caramel:
150 g granulated sugar
50 g water
10 g fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp coffee extract

to decorate:
crispearls or shaved chocolate

Heat the oven to 375 F. 2. Prepare six sheets of parchment paper drawing a circle with 8 in diameter in the center. Flip the parchment, so that the pencil drawing is in the bottom. Reserve.

Important: weigh the bowl you will be using to make the cake batter and write down that number. 

Whisk the egg yolks with  half of the sugar (60g), salt and vanilla using a KitchenAid type mixer fitted with the wire whisk. You must whisk until the mixture is thick enough to form a ribbon when the batter drips from the whisk. It might take more than 8 minutes to get there, be patient.

In a clean mixing bowl with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and remaining 60 g of sugar on high speed to soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into egg yolk mixture, then fold the flour (sifted on top). Remove a small amount of the batter and mix with the melted, cooled butter. That makes it easier to incorporate the butter homogeneously into the cake batter. Fold the butter into the cake batter.  Weight the bowl and calculate exactly how much batter you have. Divide by six to get the exact amount you’ll need to spread on each parchment paper. In my case I played conservative, and although the calculations gave me 104 g of batter per circle, I used 100 g only.

Spread onto the parchment lined baking sheets within the circles. Bake for about 10 minutes, in my oven I could do two sheets at a time. The other circles can wait as you bake.  Remove from oven and transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack.

Make the chocolate buttercream. In a clean metal mixing bowl, warm the sugar and eggs over a water bath to 140 F. Whisk in a KitchenAid at medium-high speed for 5 minutes, so that the mixture will cool almost to room temperature.  Add the butter (room temperature, preferably as close as possible as the temperature of the egg/sugar mixture) in small pieces, then the melted chocolate, and mix until homogenous and a spreadable consistency.

Make the caramel:  Stir the sugar, water, and lemon juice and melt in a saucepan over medium heat. Prepare an off-set spatula by coating it lightly with oil. Cook the sugar until the caramel turns amber. Pour the caramel onto one of the cake layers and spread with an oiled offset spatula.  Wait 30 to 60 seconds. With a well-oiled chef’s knife score the caramel-coated cake layer into twelve even pieces slices. Use scissors to cut neatly the 12 triangle shaped slices.  Set aside to cool in the fridge. Add 1/4 cup water and coffee extract to the pan with the leftover caramel, gently heat and make a simple syrup to use as a soaker for the cake slices.

Place the first sponge layer on work surface. Soak the sponge layer with simple syrup. Evenly spread a thin layer of buttercream filling on the cake layer. Repeat until five cake layers have been filled with equal amounts of buttercream filling. Frost the cake and decorate the sides using a cake comb.  Score the cake into 12 pieces.

Pipe decoration on each piece using a star-shaped piping tip. Place caramel sponge decoration on each cake piece and decorate the center with crispearls or shaved chocolate.  Cool for buttercream to set, but if possible bring to room temperature before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: One of the best advices I’ve seen lately for baking in general is to weigh the bowls you use most often and write down that number someplace. I actually stuck a tape on my Kitchen Aid with the magical number 1,045. That is how much the bowl weighs.  Whenever I make cake layers I don’t need to think twice. Just weigh the bowl with the batter, subtract the magical number and work from there. If I  need to divide the batter in 2, 3, 4 pans, I do it on the scale and know exactly how much to pour.

In the case of the Dobos, it’s really important that the layers get uniform in thickness. Next time I will also weigh the amount of buttercream added to the first layer, so that I can make sure all others are exactly the same. I had a little too much enthusiasm filling one of the layers and it is evident in the sliced photo that you’ll see later. Finally, I think it could be also good to spread the cake batter slightly bigger than 8 inches in diameter and then use a cake ring to cut them all exactly the same size. Details like this will make the final product more polished.

I cannot praise enough that caramel coated-decoration. In fact, I think one could make cake-cookies just like that. I had to control myself not to go to the mail room in our department and steal all the decorations. But truth is I always send a picture of the dessert as a group email on Sunday, so it would be hard to explain how its crown would be all of a sudden absent.

The cake is obviously very rich but a small slice is more than enough. I’ve seen Dobos Tortes showcasing 8 or even 9 layers, so if you feel particularly brave and indulgent, make more cake batter and go for it. But you will need extra buttercream also, the recipe as written had enough to fill, cover and make the piped decorations with a small amount leftover. I have also seen variations without the cake layers fanned on top and using sugar work instead. I urge you to stick to the classic method. I hate to be repetitive, but… those caramelized pieces? You need to get up close and personal with them…

ONE YEAR AGO: Coffee-Caramel Entremet Cake

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THREE YEARS AGO: Eataly

FOUR YEARS AGO: Spaghetti Squash Perfection

FIVE YEARS AGO: Skinny Eggplant Parmigiana

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BLOODY CUPCAKES FOR A SPOOKY HALLOWEEN

Red Velvet cake and Halloween is a match made in heaven. Heaven and Halloween? What have I done here? Oh, well. To make them even better, stab each cupcake with “broken glass” and make them “bleed!”

BLOODY RED VELVET CUPCAKES
(decoration from Recipes by Carina)

for the cupcakes:
160g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
85 g (6 tablespoons) butter, softened
150g granulated sugar
1 egg
2 T cocoa powder (I used natural)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tablespoon red food dye

for the frosting:
170 g unsalted butter, softened
500 g cream cheese, cut in pieces, at room temperature
260 g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste

for the broken glass decoration:
200g sugar
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp lemon juice

for the fake blood:
½ cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
1-4 tsp red food gel
drops of blue food gel

Heat oven to 350 F. Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Reserve. Cream softened butter with sugar using a KitchenAid type mixer with paddle attachment.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, egg, and red food color. When the butter and sugar are well mixed and the mixture is pale, add the egg, mix briefly and add the cocoa powder. Once the mixture more or less smooth, add the flour in three additions, and the liquids in two, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the  batter to regular size cupcake pans, lined with paper.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting. Put the softened butter in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth.  Add the pieces of softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl, a small amount at a time. When all cream cheese is added and combined, beat for about 1 minute then add the powdered sugar in three portions, adding the vanilla after the last third portion.

Beat for 2 to 3 minutes more, but do not over-mix or the mixture can become loose.

Make the decorations. In a saucepan measure out the sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice and water. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes until the sugar starts to change colour or until it reaches 300F.

Pour the melted sugar out onto a baking sheet lined with Silpat.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to the fridge for a few hours to harden.  Break shards when ready to decorate the cupcakes.

Make the fake blood. In a bowl mix together the syrup and cornstarch until combined. If needed, add water to reach proper consistency. Add the food gel, small amount at a time until you have a deep dark red shade. Spoon the blood over the cupcakes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Once these cupcakes were done, I thought that another cute way to present the same idea would be a red velvet jelly roll type cake, with little blobs of cream cheese frosting on top and the glass shards properly stabbed here and there. And blood. A lot of it. Obviously.

Have a great Halloween celebration, whatever scary thing is on your menu.  I leave you with a shot from 2013, when we went to a party with the graduate students from our department. Halloween was Aritri’s favorite holiday and this week I cannot take her out of my mind.


Star Trek Captain finds Handsome Alien and brings him all the way to her planet where they’ve lived happily ever after…

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FALL-INSPIRED BAKING

Everyone who knows me is well-aware I am a summer-creature all the way. But there’s something about the colors of autumn that fascinate me. I suppose they fascinate all human beings. Growing up in Brazil, I had never seen trees turning color, but used to marvel at photos from Vermont or other places famous for having the most spectacular color change in their trees. Now I enjoy them in our own backyard, Phil planted a beautiful maple tree that is thriving nicely, each year more magnificent, with a more intense red tone in the leaves. Gorgeous. Today I share with you a series of recent bakes inspired by the season.

I will start with the Maple Leaf Chocolate Sugar Cookies, because I loved making them.

MAPLE LEAF CHOCOLATE COOKIES
(cookie recipe from Lilaloa and decoration technique from Salt and Serenity)

for the cookie dough:
227 g (1 cup) slightly softened unsalted butter
43 g vegetable shortening (43 grams)
300 g granulated sugar
2 large eggs ( about 100 grams)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
80 g unsweetened cocoa powder
490 g all-purpose flour
(if saving the dough to roll at a later time, use 420 g flour)
for the Royal Icing:
80 g egg whites
420 g powdered sugar
food dye (brown, red, orange, and yellow)

Heat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter, shortening and sugar together in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer with the paddle attachment. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt and mix well.
Stir in the cocoa until well blended.

Add flour and mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough holds together in a ball. Roll out on lightly floured surface, cut in the desired shapes.I like to place the baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes or in the refrigerator for 15 min before baking. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, cool completely before icing.

Make the Royal icing: whisk the egg whites and powdered sugar using a KitchenAid type mixer until fully smooth. Adjust if needed with sugar or a little milk. I like to have it at around 15 second-icing consistency, because it works both for piping the edge and flooding, which is all I need for this design.

Pipe the four colors starting with brown, finishing with yellow, but feel free to play with them in other arrangements. Pull the colors with a needle or toothpick, watch the tutorial online for details. Allow the icing to fully set at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I urge you to visit Salt and Serenity and watch Cindy’s video explaining how to make this eye-catching design. It is one of those things that seem very complicated until you see how it’s done. Basically, if “I” could do it, you will be able to do it also. Trust me. It is important to use a cookie recipe that holds its shape well, and I was happy with the one I used, especially because you can roll the dough without resting it in the fridge. You know I am not the most patient baker out there.

Moving on to Halloween Brigadeiros…

Brigadeiros are the most typical candy from Brazil, and totally addictive.  I used my default recipe and simply coated them with orange and black non-pareils. For the recipe and to read more about them, visit my old post with a click here.

PUMPKIN CUPCAKES
(adapted from many sources)

for the cupcakes:
170 g granulated sugar
130g brown sugar
225 g all-purpose flour
1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
320 g canned pumpkin (about 3/4 of a small can)
150 ml grapeseed oil
3 large eggs
for the icing:
120g unsalted butter, softened
190 g cream cheese, at room temperature
675 g powdered sugar
sprinkles to decorate

Heat the oven to 375 F.  Place both sugars in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and blend with the whisk so that no lumps remain in the brown sugar. Sift all other dry ingredients and mix well with the sugars.

In another medium bowl mix well the pumpkin, oil and eggs. Add to the KitchenAid bowl and mix with the paddle attachment until smooth. Place paper liners in a 12-muffin baking pan, and fill each about 3/4 of the volume.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 18 minutes.

Make the icing while the cupcakes bake and cool. Beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until pale and very smooth. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, then add to the butter mixture in three additions, beating well each time. 

When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them using the icing tip of your choice. I used Wilton 1M.  Decorate with your favorite sprinkles.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These are deliciously soft cupcakes, with the perfect amount and combination of spices. I used two different styles of piping trying to change things a bit, but the traditional swirl still gets my vote. I suppose if you want to go the more austere route, these cupcakes will shine with just a dusting of powdered sugar, so keep that in mind.

And finally, how could I possibly make a Fall inspired baking post without French macarons?

I used my default recipe, which you can find here, but added orange and brown food color at 4:1 proportion.

PUMPKIN MACARON FILLING

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canned pumpkin pureed
2 cups powdered sugar (220 g)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of allspice
to decorate:
White Candy melts (about 3/4 cup)
black gel food dye
sprinkles of your choice

Cream the butter and pumpkin puree with an electric mixer. Add in the sugar and spices. Mix well and scrape down side of bowl. If needed, thin with a very small amount of milk or heavy cream.

Add a small amount of buttercream to a macaron shell, top with another shell. Melt the Candy melts in a microwave or double boiler. Add black food dye. Place in a piping bag, cut a very small hole in the plastic. Pipe lines on top of the macarons, immediately add sprinkles before the drizzle sets.

As always, leave the filled macarons in the fridge overnight before serving them.

ENJOY!

to print the filling recipe, click here

Comments: This is my second version of a pumpkin macaron, and I like this filling better, it has a more complex flavor. For the drizzle with black candy melts I did something a bit different, and unfortunately I am not quite sure how reproducible it is. You are welcome to try it, but if it does not work for you, don’t get mad at me. A couple of months ago I was heating candy melts and used too high power in the microwave. The suspension kind of broke, and I simply tossed it and started all over. Later I learned that you can recover the broken suspension if you add a bit of oil such as grapeseed or safflower. Something mild in flavor, obviously. This time I made the suspension break and brought it back but not to the point that it was fully smooth. I wanted some texture, and I think it worked well, at least it was close to what I had in mind.  So, next time Candy Melts play a trick on you, consider using it to your advantage…

I hope you enjoyed my quartet of bakes. Since summer is over, I might as well embrace what’s good about cooler weather: BAKING WITH ABANDON!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: On a Halloween Roll

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Zucchini, Lemon & Walnut Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Paleo Energy Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dressing

SIX YEARS AGO: Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast

NINE YEARS AGO: Panmarino

TEN YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken

HALLOWEEN ENTREMET CAKE

Today I share with you a mousse cake that celebrates the season with the flavors of pumpkin and warm spices, plus the colors of Halloween. The spider effect on the mirror glaze is optional, but in my opinion, oh so very cool…  What do you think?

HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN ENTREMET CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Kirsten Tibbals)

for the almond sponge:
65g powdered sugar
75g almond flour
65g whole eggs
40g egg yolks
140g egg whites
40g caster sugar
25g brown sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
60g all purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the icing sugar, almond flour, whole eggs and the egg yolks until thick and forming a nice ribbon as you allow the batter to fall from the paddle. This will take around 8 minutes.

In another bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the whites with the cream of tartar to medium peak. Gradually add in the caster sugar. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue with the almond base, add the brown sugar and flour then gently fold in the remaining meringue. Spread the sponge evenly into a half sheet pan covered with parchment paper, or use a Flexipat.

Bake for around 10 minutes at 350F.  Remove from the oven and place into the freezer for approximately 30 minutes. Once cool, remove from the Flexipat and use a cutter to cut a disc for the base of the entremet. You will have a little leftover cake that you can freeze for future adventures.

for the pumpkin chocolate insert:
75g canned pumpkin
40g whipping cream
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
65g milk chocolate, cut in small pieces
1.5g gold gelatin sheets
40g whipping cream, whipped to melted ice cream consistency

Pre-soak the gelatin in a bowl ofcold water. Heat the first amount of cream (40g) to simmering, almost boiling. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk.  Add in the pre-soaked gelatine and combine. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate cut in small pieces in a bowl. If necessary, use an immersion blender to make it smooth.  Place into a bowl and once it cools to 98F or below, fold through the whipped cream using a spatula.

Pour the  mixture inside a suitable ring (or silicone mold) smaller than the ring used for the entremet. If using a ring, cover the bottom with plastic film bringing it up to the sides. Freeze overnight.

for the caramel mousse:
7 g gelatine
37 ml water
150 g sugar
52 g glucose or corn syrup
67 ml water
¼ tsp salt
190 g  + 375 g heavy cream
2 egg yolks

In a small bowl, mix gelatin and water (37ml) together and leave for 5 to 10 minutes until set. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, mix together sugar, glucose (or corn syrup), water (67ml) and salt. Cook on medium high heat until you achieve a caramel syrup with deep amber color. Do not allow it to smoke or burn. Meanwhile, in another sauce pan, slightly the heat the 190 grams heavy cream, so when the caramel is done you can pour the cream right away. Carefully pour it in and mix well until fully combined.

In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Then add a third of the caramel to the beaten yolks and beat quickly together to temper the yolks. Pour the mixture back into the caramel and stir well to combine. Continue stirring until it reaches 180-182 °F. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 20 seconds until melted (do not boil it, if needed reduce the power of your microwave to 70% or so) and mix into the caramel cream. Pass the cream through a fine mesh strainer, and set it aside to cool to 113 F.  When cooled, whisk the remaining heavy cream (375 g) into a melted ice cream consistency. Then fold it in two additions into the caramel cream, until well combined.

Prepare a 20cm ring (7+3/4 to 8 inch) by covering the bottom with plastic film and lining the inside with acetate film. Pour 1/2 of the mousse inside, carefully drop the frozen pumpkin-chocolate insert and cover with mousse. Smooth the surface with an off-set spatula then cover with the reserved almond sponge.  Smooth the surface again and freeze overnight.

for the mirror glaze:
3 sheets of Platinum grade sheet gelatin
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
gel food coloring (orange and brown 4:1)

Put the water, sugar and liquid glucose 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 gel colors (orange and brown 4:1)

Put the white 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, colours 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. Once it is slightly above that (around 97 F), remove a small portion and add dark brown gel color to it, mixing well. Pour the un-dyed portion in a large measuring glass with a spout, add the dark brown mixture to it, mix with a chopstick just barely.  Make sure it is at the correct pouring temperature. 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.

Pour the glaze in a circular motion, starting at the center, making sure it flows homogeneously on all sides. Tap the rack gently to settle the glaze, and very gently and quickly run an off-set spatula on top of the cake to force excess glaze to run down the sides. Do that just once, or you will ruin the marble effect.

for the spider web effect:
2 tablespoons neutral glaze
black food dye

Heat the neutral glaze to 150 F.  The easiest way to quickly reach 150F is to add 2 Tbs neutral glaze to a small bowl and microwave to boiling. Quickly add a small amount (2 tsp or so) of room temperature neutral glaze and the black dye. Mix well. Keep hot until needed, with a hot spatula ready to go. As soon as the mirror glaze is poured, add a small amount of black glaze at 150 F to the spatula and run over the surface. The contrast of temperature and composition (fat versus water based suspensions) will create a natural web effect. The less you mess with it, the better!

Place cake in fridge to defrost for 2 hours before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The idea for this cake started from a class online offered by the one and only Kirsten Tibbals. She made the most amazing Pumpkin Petit Gateau that included green stems shaped with chocolate. Way beyond my skill level, so from that idea I just borrowed the pumpkin-chocolate insert. Then I coupled it with one of my favorite mousses for entremet cakes, quite simple to prepare and with delicate flavor. The base of the cake was an almond sponge, and I used the traditional mirror glaze in the mandatory orange color to lock the spirit of the season. It had been a while since I last attempted a spider web effect, and Halloween quickly approaching seemed appropriate for another stroll in that territory.

My only issue with the cake was the size of the pumpkin-chocolate insert. I am giving you a slightly reduced amount than I used, because my insert was too heavy and it sunk to the bottom of the mousse. It still tasted very good and had the desired texture, but I was hoping for a centered insert surrounded by the caramel mousse. Instead, it turned out as a two layer cake. No major harm done, but not quite the way I planned.

I loved the texture of the almond sponge, and the way the mousse allowed the more assertive taste of the pumpkin-chocolate to shine. As to the spider effect, I am getting more confident about it, I remember my first attempt was quite nerve-wracking, but now I got a good system to get the temperature correctly.

Allow me to share one more picture of my Halloween cake, because I thought the effect of the light bulb shining on the glaze turned out pretty interesting…

Liked the post? Grab a pin and make Sally happy…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Pork with Prunes, Olives and Capers

TWO YEARS AGO: Kansas Corn Chowder

THREE YEARS AGO: Impossibly Cute Bacon and Egg Cups

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pulling Under Pressure

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-vide: Two takes on Chicken Thighs

SIX YEARS AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

SEVEN YEARS AGO: On my desk

EIGHT YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

NINE YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

TEN YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

GIANT COOKIE MEETS MOUSSE

…and the Entremet Cookie is born! I cannot take credit for it, so before I even start talking about this delicious dessert, let me thank Maxime, from Empreintesucree.fr.  She is a professional pâtissière who shares very detailed recipes of her beautiful productions. If you are a bit intimidated by entremet type cakes, this one is an excellent starting point, especially if you simplify the decoration steps (see comments). I guarantee it will still impress your guests.

ENTREMET COOKIE
(slightly modified from Empreintesucree.fr)

for the cookie base:
80 g butter (at room temperature)
65 g muscovado sugar
a pinch of salt
1 egg (55 g)
120 g all purpose flour
2 g baking powder
90 g dark chocolate mini chips

for the chocolate cream:
1 egg yolk
10 g of sugar
100 g heavy whipping cream
38 g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)

for the dark chocolate buttercream:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
290 g confectioners’ sugar
90 g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the chocolate mousse:
180 g Caramelia chocolate (or milk chocolate of  your choice) of milk chocolate
250 g heavy whipping cream

for the chocolate velvet spray (optional)
120 g milk chocolate (I used Caramelia)
80 g of cocoa butter

for decoration:
golden stars
chocolate Crispearls

Suggested timeframe: make cookie two days before serving time and freeze it. The day before serving make the mousse, and the chocolate cream. Assemble the cake and save the cream in fridge until cake is un-molded.  On serving day make the chocolate buttercream, and the chocolate spray suspension (if using).

Make the cookie base. Heat the oven to 350 F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper  and place over it a 20 cm ring. Reserve.

In the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar and salt. Add the egg and mix again, then sift the flour with the baking powder and mix gently.  Add the mini chocolate chips, and spoon the batter inside the ring. (It is easier to just pour the batter over the parchment paper eye-balling the dimension, then sit the ring on top and use an off-set spatula to carefully spread it uniformly inside the ring).

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges start to get some color. Remove from the oven, and – using oven mitts – immediately make circles with the ring, which will make the cookie base shrink a little bit, as it is still hot. You just want to have the cookie a tiny bit smaller than the ring, so that the mousse will cover the edges fully.  Allow the cookie to cool completely before placing it in the freezer.

Make the chocolate cream.  Whisk the sugar and the egg yolk in a small bowl. In parallel, heat the cream in a small saucepan. Pour the cream over the sugar/yolk mixture to temper it, then transfer everything back to the saucepan. Cook the custard over low heat until 180 F.  Pour the cream over the chocolate until it is slightly melted and mix with a spatula.  Place a plastic film in contact with the cream and reserve it in the refrigerator. When ready to assemble, place in piping bag with a plastic adaptor and have two round piping tips ready, of different sizes.

Make the chocolate mousse. Melt the Caramelia chocolate gently in a double boiler.  Bring one third of the cream, about 80 g to a simmer in a saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the melted chocolate and mix with a spatula until fully smooth. Whip the remaining whipping cream until it gets the consistency of melted ice cream.  Pour half of the cream on your milk chocolate mixture and mix gently with a spatula. Add the remaining cream and mix again until you get a perfectly smooth chocolate whipped cream.

Assemble the dessert. Stretch a piece of plastic wrap on the 20cm circle ring, pulling it well to stretch it nicely.  Flip your circle over a baking dish that fits in your freezer and place a strip of acetate film on the inside to facilitate un-molding later. Pour all the mousse into the circle, then smooth roughly. Take the cookie out of the freezer and push it upside down into the foam (the smooth side of the cookie up). The mousse should be flush with the cookie, smooth over what is needed. Reserve the dessert in the freezer overnight.

Make the dark chocolate buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is smooth. Turn the speed to slow, add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Pour the milk and vanilla extract then add the salt and continue beating until well combined. Increase the speed to high and beat the frosting for a couple of minutes. Place in a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip or another star-shaped tip of your choice.

Make the chocolate suspension for velvet effect.  Melt milk chocolate and cocoa butter in a double-boiler. Filter and place the mixture into the tank of your sprayer. Temperature should be 98 F. Un-mold your dessert and immediately spray the chocolate on it. Ideally, do this inside a dishwasher with racks removed. Decorate the cake with the cream and buttercream, add sprinkles of your choice. Leave in the fridge to thaw for at least one hour before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Well, I do realize that it seems a bit of a stretch to post this recipe as simple and then come up with quite a few components to make it. As I mentioned, you can simplify it quite a bit. For instance, you can skip the two different types of piped decoration and do a drizzle of melted dark chocolate all over it. That would work well. A shower of golden sprinkles for fun and a bit of a dressed up look. The velvet spray is also optional. I find it fun to do, though, and it helps me deal with guilty feelings of having a sprayer sitting in the basement just for my patisserie adventures. It’s nice to put it to use.

On that note, three things are worth mentioning. First, you must strain the melted chocolate + cocoa butter before pouring it in the sprayer. If you look at my photo above, you’ll notice how much stuff gets retained in the sieve. That could conceivably clog the sprayer and you don’t want that at all. Second, if you are using a regular paint sprayer for chocolate work, the container is large, so what works very well is to place a much smaller plastic cup inside, so that you don’t need to make a huge amount of chocolate suspension. I used an empty Benecol container. And third, do the spraying inside an empty dishwasher, because it is a messy process and all you need to do after is turn the dishwasher on.

We took this cake to a dinner party at a friend’s home, so I snapped the pictures with my cell phone very quickly. I admit they are not prize-winning shots. At any rate, everybody raved about the dessert. The cookie component goes very well with the creamy mousse, and it had just the right thickness, don’t try to make it thinner because it won’t work the same way. I loved the contrast of the sharp cocoa buttercream with the milk chocolate cream and mousse, but the cake can shine with only one of the piped toppings.

Maxime, thanks for a lovely recipe, I am thinking of many variations in the future.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Brazilian Battenberg

TWO YEARS AGO: Salzburg Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: If I had One Hour

FOUR YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

SIX YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

NINE YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

TEN YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

 

STRAWBERRY MINI-CAKES FOR BAKE PINK PROJECT

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am joining Chef Colette Christian in her Bake Pink Project. I don’t know how many dear friends and acquaintances of mine have been affected by breast (and other) cancers, but far too many.  In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime, with early detection being KEY to survival. In other words, get screened annually, and talk to all your friends to make sure they do the same.

I’ve never met Chef Colette in person. But I know for a fact she is one of the nicest human beings around. I will talk more about it in a few months, for reasons that will become clear by then. For now, let me just say she is a fantastic online instructor who is responsible for me finally conquering macarons a few years ago (check her 6 classes at Bluprint, all pretty amazing). Once I got addicted to baking macarons, my horizons were opened to other kinds of patisserie. In many ways, I think Colette is the person who helped me go from cake-o-phobe to passionate baker.  She is winning her own battle with breast cancer, and I am absolutely thrilled to join her BAKE PINK project. Today I share a recipe for a cake I recently enjoyed at Ottolenghi’s cafe in London.  It is pink, it is delicious, and quite simple to put together.

STRAWBERRY-VANILLA MINI-CAKES
(slightly modified from Ottolenghi’s Sweet)

recipe also available online here

for the cake:
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
120 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
140 g almond flour
15 oz fresh strawberries, hulled cut in half
1 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

for the strawberry icing:
55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
300 g icing sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla paste

to decorate:
whole strawberries
freeze-dried strawberries
sprinkles

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Start by making the roasted strawberries, preferably many hours in advance, or the day before.  Mix the strawberries with olive oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl, add to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until the edges start to get dark and the liquid gets thick. Do not let the strawberries burn or get too dry.  Reserve. Dice before using in the recipe. If there is excessive liquid, drain it.

Prepare four mini-loaf pans by coating them with butter and flour or using a baking spray.

Make the cake batter. Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla paste in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time. Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond flour. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced roasted strawberries.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth. Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. Garnish and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: While in London, I really wanted to stop by Ottolenghi’s place, but since my schedule was quite tight, I was worried it would not happen. So one afternoon I was all by myself and realized I barely had the time to catch the tube and get to the cafe before closing time. When I got there, I could not sit down for an early dinner because they were just getting ready to call it a day, so I was a bit frantic trying to decide what to get. From the corner of my eye I saw some cute mini-loaf cakes, and that’s what I bought. My plan was to travel back to the hotel and have it as my dinner. But it could not hurt to take a test-bite as I walked back to the metro station, right?  Right. Problem is, I could not stop eating it. Moist, sweet, but also tangy with the strawberry taste. It was so so good… The sweetest walk ever through Notting Hill.

Of course, it is often problematic to try to match the great things we stumble upon like that. But I have to say, the ones I baked at home were pretty close to that level of goodness. I opted to roast the strawberries because at this time of the year they are not at their peak, and also because roasting will always intensify the flavor, so why not? It is just a small additional step that I think pays off big time here.

Chef Colette, thank you for Baking Pink, and for all the help and advice you’ve given me this past few months.  You are a sweet and bright person…

And for all my readers and fellow bloggers, let’s do all we can to raise awareness about breast cancer, it is a serious killer that can be tamed by early detection.

ONE YEAR AGO: Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pea Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Naturally Sweet

THREE YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FOUR YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

NINE YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

TEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire