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…

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MANGO HAZELNUT ENTREMET CAKE

It’s been a while since I made what is probably my favorite type of dessert. As far as entremet goes, this is a reasonably simple example, with a single insert in the center (mango gelée) and only two components in the base, a hazelnut dacquoise and a crunchy chocolate layer. I used the Silikomart Vague mold, I love its design and how easy it is to remove the frozen cake for final decoration, which involved chocolate spray and a few caramel-coated hazelnuts.

MANGO HAZELNUT ENTREMET CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the hazelnut dacquoise:
75 g egg whites, at room temperature
50 g sugar
70 g hazelnut flour (I processed toasted hazelnuts)
50 g sugar
20 g all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350F.

Beat the egg whites (with whisk attachment) until you can see a trail forming as the beater moves through them. Add the sugar slowly and beat until firm peaks form, but do not overbeat or it will get grainy (and ruined).  Add the hazelnut flour mixed with remaining 50 g of sugar and the flour, folding delicately. Pour or pipe the mixture in a circle about 8-in diameter over parchment paper. Cook for about 10 minutes, let it cool on a rack, while still a bit warm cut a circle of the exact dimension of the mold you’ll use to make the dessert (if using Vague mold, that will be 20 cm or 7 and 3/4 in).

For the mango insert:
150 g mango puree (I used frozen mango chunks)
25 g sugar
5 g gelatin in sheets (230 Bloom)

Soak the gelatine cut into pieces in cold water for 10 minutes.

Bring the puree together with the sugar to 120F, add the drained gelatin, mix and pour in a 6-inch ring, covered on the bottom with film and placed on a tray. Remove a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) for the decoration on top.

for the chocolate-crisp:
113 g Lindt milk chocolate with hazelnuts
10 g pistachio paste (or add 2 tsp coconut oil)
10 g puffed quinoa (or rice crisps cereal, or crumbled corn flakes)

Toast the puffed quinoa in a 350F oven for a few minutes, until fragrant. Melt the chocolate gently and mix it with the toasted quinoa and the pistachio paste. Spread as a thin circle on parchment paper, with dimensions a bit bigger than the bottom of the dessert mold.  Once it cools slightly,  cut it to fit exactly on top of the hazelnut dacquoise (20cm or 7 and 3/4 in).

For the white chocolate mousse:
175 g whole milk
35 g sugar
70 g egg yolks
7 g gelatin in sheets
175 g white chocolate
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
350 g cream

Soak the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Break up the chocolate and place it in a bowl with the vanilla paste.

Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar by hand in a bowl, pour over a bit of the simmering milk to temper it, then transfer the whole mixture to the pan and bring the temperature to 180F. Remove from heat, add the squeezed gelatin, pour into the bowl with the chocolate and emulsify using an immersion blender or a whisk. Make sure it is all very well combined and smooth. Allow it to cool.

Meanwhile whip the heavy cream to a consistency of melted ice cream. When the custard is around body temperature or just a bit warmer, fold the cream into it. Pour about 1/3 of the mixture into the Vague mold , place the frozen mango insert, pour chocolate mousse almost to the top, allowing just enough room for the crunchy chocolate layer and the dacquoise.  Add them, and fill any gaps on the sides with mousse. Wrap with plastic and freeze overnight.

for the chocolate spray:
300 g white chocolate
200 g cocoa butter

Melt together and place in sprayer at 90 F (I use a normal paint sprayer dedicated to chocolate only).

Turn out the frozen cake and spray immediately with a light coating of white chocolate suspension.  Melt the reserved mango gelatin very gently, and spoon some in the center of the mold. Keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. Decorate with caramel-coated hazelnuts.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am very happy with the flavors and textures of this baby. The tricky part of this type of dessert is assembling it, because it’s a process that is a bit “in the dark”, so to speak. With a regular layered cake, you can visualize the layers well, because you either bake them individually or cut slices from a bigger cake. As the cake is assembled, it is also easier to judge how much filling to add so that the layers end up as uniform as you want them to be. In mousse cakes like this one, it becomes a bit of a guessing game. For instance, how much to allow the insert to sink in, how to make sure it is properly leveled,  how to prevent large air bubbles to form, or to make sure the sides are smooth.  Small details can go wrong, but you may not realize until unmolding the frozen cake next day. Talk about cake-anxiety…  😉

You can see that part of the mango insert got a little wavy. That happened because when I first made the insert and set it in the fridge overnight, the pan got a bit tilted and I had to melt the layer again and re-freeze it, not an ideal situation. Lesson learned.  It is crucial to have space in your freezer that allows all components to lay flat and absolutely leveled.

The most fun part? Making the hazelnut with the pointy caramel bits. I followed the method described in Martha Stewart’s site, and it worked like a charm. My only advice is that you make more hazelnuts than you need. Some end up cracking as you stick the skewer, so it’s better to start with more. Also, some might roll a bit as the caramel drips compromising the shape of the drip. It is very important to let the caramel rest before coating the hazelnuts, but once it reaches the right viscosity, you must work fast. It is possible to re-warm the caramel briefly to continue using it, but it’s a bit of a hassle. I prefer to hit that magical point and work with it right away.

Finally, don’t let the lack of a Silikomart mold stop you from making this dessert. A simple ring or springform pan will work, as long as you have a second ring with smaller diameter to form the insert. And the velvet coating is also optional (although you can also buy a spray can with the suspension ready to use; be ready for sticker shock!). The surface is very smooth to start with (see the large photo in the composite picture), so you could leave it as it is, or melt some white chocolate and drizzle it all over the top, in a Pollock-manner.  You could dye the chocolate orange and then add the hazelnuts here and there.

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SAKURA BUCHE DU PRINTEMPS

This past winter was so hard that I intend to keep celebrating the arrival of spring for as long as I can get away with it. Clearly, nothing says spring better than cherry blossoms. In this cake, my goal was to have a creamy sakura-flavored mousse involving a fruity center, as a red fruit compote. For the base of the dessert, I made a crusty layer with puffed quinoa, the new (to me) ingredient I mentioned in my last post. To finalize, a pastel-colored mirror glaze action, in pink, purple and green.  Why the French name?  Because it is irresistibly poetic, that’s why.

SAKURA BUCHE DU PRINTEMPS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for the biscuit layer:
125 g eggs
90 g powdered sugar (I used Bakewell cherry flavored)
90 g almond flour
30 g flour
20 g melted butter
180 g egg whites
40 g sugar (superfine if available)

for the berry compote:
300 g pure of cherries and red berries
2 whole eggs
140 g honey
140 g whipping cream
6 g gelatin in sheets
60 g butter, at room temperature

for the quinoa-crisp:
113 g white chocolate
20 g pistachio paste
20 g puffed quinoa

for the Sakura mousse:
210 g milk
1/8 tsp sakura leaf powder (optional)
1/8 tsp cherry blossom essence
100 g egg yolks
110 g sugar
8 g gelatin sheets
210 g whipping cream

for the mirror glaze:
150 g glucose
150 g granulated sugar
150 g white chocolate, cut in small pieces
75 g water
100 g condensed, sweetened milk
9 g gelatin in sheets
1/2 tsp titanium oxide (optional, but worth it)
pink, purple, and bright green gel food dye

Two days before serving, make the biscuit and the cherry compote.

For the biscuit: In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the leaf blade, beat the eggs, sugar an almond flour together for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and after thoroughly cleaning the bowl of the Kitchen Aid, whisk the egg whites until you can see if forming a trail as the whisk goes through them. At this point, slowly rain the fine sugar to form a soft-peak meringue.  Add the meringue to the egg-sugar-almond mixture previously made. Mix gently with a spatula. Add the flour gently, sifting it over the mixture. Finally, add a bit of the mixture to the melted butter, make a smooth emulsion with it, and pour it into the batter. Mix as gently as possible.

Spread the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper as a layer a little over 1/2 inch thick, and bake for 12 minutes at 380 F.  Once the biscuit is cool, cut the rectangle needed to fit the smaller buche. While the biscuit cools, make the compote.

For the compote: Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water for at least 10 minutes. Place the eggs, honey, fruit puree and heavy cream in a bowl and whisk with an immersion blender (or use a regular blender if you prefer). Pour the mixture in a saucepan and bring the temperature to 180 F, stirring constantly and never using too high heat. Remove the pan from the stove, add the drained gelatin, and mix. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and add the softened butter, mixing again until well incorporated. Pour into the mold, then gently add the biscuit on top, pressing gently. You don’t want it to submerge, just float on the surface. Wrap the top of the mold with plastic and freeze overnight.

Make the quinoa-crisp. Bake the puffed quinoa in a 325 F oven for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a microwave very gently. Mix the melted chocolate with the pistachio paste.  Add the quinoa and spread  in a 4 mm (1/8 inch) thickness in between two sheets of parchment paper. It will be a little sticky, try to level it as best as you can. When it is cooled down a bit, cut the exact dimension of the bigger mold you will use for the dessert. Reserve.

Make the Sakura mousse. Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for at least 10 minutes. Bring the milk to almost boiling and add the sakura leaf powder, mixing well to dissolve. Let it sit covered for 10 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Slowly add the hot milk infused with the sakura powder, whisking constantly. Transfer back to the pan and heat gently to 180 F. Do not let it go over or you will scramble the egg yolks. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool for a couple of minutes and add the drained gelatin and the Sakura extract. Reserve.

Whip the cold heavy cream to very soft peaks, do not over whip it. When the sakura custard is barely warm to the touch, add the whipped cream to form the final mousse, fold with a spatula until smooth. Pour the mousse into the large Buche mold up to 1/3 of its volume. Add the frozen insert made the day before, with the biscuit layer up. Complete the mold with mousse almost to the top, place the quinoa crisp on top, pressing gently. Wrap with plastic and freeze overnight.

Make the mirror glaze. Place the gelatin sheets inside a bowl with cold water for 10 minutes as you prepare the other ingredients. In a sauce pan, heat the glucose, sugar and water until boiling. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Let it cool slightly, and add to a bowl with the white chocolate in small pieces. After a few minutes, use a spatula to dissolve the chocolate. Add the gelatin and the condensed milk, and mix gently, try to avoid incorporating air bubbles. Add the titanium oxide and emulsify the mixture with an immersion blender to get rid of bubbles. Divide the mixture in three bowls. Eyeballing is fine. Add the color and mix very gently with a spatula, do not use a whisk to avoid incorporating bubbles. Cover with plastic touching the surface and place in the fridge overnight.

To glaze, warm up the mixtures in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds. Pass them each through a fine sieve to remove any residual bubbles. When the mixtures are at 98 F you can pour them in a tall pitcher, one color at a time, working fast so that the temperature does not drop too much. Glaze the frozen dessert allowing all colors to mix and mingle.  Thaw the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Decorate the sides if you like, with tempered white chocolate or candy melts.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The dessert was assembled in a set of Silikomart molds called “Buche.” They can be used either separately, or together in a way that the smaller mold makes a component that goes inserted in the bigger one.  When planning a dessert using two molds, the first thing to consider is the volume needed, keeping in mind that a great deal of space will be occupied in the larger mold by the insert previously made. The amounts I shared work well with the Buche set. The composite photo above shows the overall preparation of the insert (compote + biscuit), that I made on a Friday evening, and left to freeze until next day. You can use any type of freezer-safe container you want, as long as it allows for easy un-molding later. The biscuit recipe makes more than needed for the base, so I cut a few rounds to freeze for a future adventure.

Saturday morning I made the crusty layer using puffed quinoa. To do so, I drew a precise template of the bigger Silikomart mold, and used a sharp paring knife to cut it. It is easier to cut  while it’s still just a tad warm. While the layer cooled completely, I prepared the Sakura mousse.

The mousse is poured inside the larger buche mold, then the frozen insert carefully placed in the center, with the biscuit layer facing up. More mousse is used to fill the mold almost to the top, then the  crusty layer is gently pressed on top. It is important to wrap the mold in plastic wrap so that when the mousse freezes it gets nicely compacted around the insert and the quinoa top (which will become the bottom in the final presentation).

Mirror glazing is definitely the most exciting part, although still a bit nerve-wracking for me. Things can go wrong in this final step for two main reasons:  first, you can pour too fast and lose track of how much glaze is being used, how much is left to finish coating; second, the temperature might be slightly off, so either the glaze slides off the cake without sticking, or it might set too fast and compromise the beautiful, super smooth surface that is the goal. When using more than one color, it gets even trickier. All components have to be just right in consistency and temperature. The glazes are best made the day before, so I made them on Saturday, kept them all in the fridge.  A 30 to 40 seconds encounter with the microwave puts all glazes at around 110F. At that point they went inside my bread proofing box set at 98F, and the waiting game started. You must be patient, and remember that whisking a mirror glaze suspension is a capital sin in patisserie. Bubbles must be minimized at all cost. Allow the different colors to equilibrate to the same temperature, get your frozen dessert ready, and let your inner Monet fly.

So there you have it, the Sakura Buche du Printemps ready to be enjoyed!  The cherry blossom flavor is very unique, floral (obviously) but not overpowering, as long as you exercise caution when you add it. A little too much and the mousse will be ruined. I really liked the texture of the crunchy quinoa, an idea that I cannot take credit for. I found it in this blog post and simply “borrowed” it. I will be using it again and again. It is sturdy enough to support the mousse, but easy to cut without making a huge mess on the plate. The biscuit layer could conceivably be omitted to simplify preparation, but it does add a different texture in a sea of mousse and creamy fruit. I think it makes the dessert considerably more interesting.

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LEMON-BLUEBERRY ENTREMET CAKE: A SHOUT FOR SPRING

Don’t even get me started on my thoughts about this winter. It drags, it is unbearably cold, snowy, pathetic. You may be reluctant to take the word of a Brazilian about it, but I quote my beloved husband, the Michigander: this is the worst winter we’ve had in 10 years. So there. He said it. I had no choice but to make a cake that brings the colors and brightness of Spring to the table, hoping to coach the weather into following suit. A cookie base, a chocolate genoise layer, a blueberry compote, all surrounded by a smooth lemony mousse. Want to know what makes me very happy? It is my very own recipe. Take THAT, former cake-o-phobe self!

Since there are so many components, I am giving each recipe separately so that if you like to make a single component, it will be easier to follow. Little advice for you:
Make. The. Mousse.  

LEMON-BLUEBERRY ENTREMET CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

equipment needed:
Silikomart Universo mold (or a springform type pan with 8 inches in diameter)
round cake ring, around 7 inches (to cut cookie base and freeze the insert)

for the cookie base:
80 g of softened butter
65 g powdered sugar
5 g vanilla sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
90 g all purpose-flour
10 g almond flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Heat the oven to 350 F.  In a bowl beat the butter, the powdered sugar and the vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one by one, constantly beating. In another bowl sift the flour and baking powder and add to the previous mixture. Finally, add the almond flour. Stir very well. The dough does not get too thick or too liquid, the texture must be creamy.

Spread the dough as a circle, about 1/8 inch thick, smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for about 15 minutes (depending on the oven) or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Then, cut a circle just slightly smaller than the diameter of your silicone mold. Make sure it fits snuggly into the opening of the mold.

for the chocolate genoise:
113 g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
140 g cake flour
55 g Dutch process cocoa powder
8 large eggs
225 g granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of two 8″ cake pans with a parchment round.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan, transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Sift together the flour and cocoa, set aside. Put the eggs and sugar in a mixer bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the eggs are lukewarm. Put the bowl onto the mixer and whisk until the eggs are tripled in volume.

Sift half the flour/cocoa over the egg mixture and use a balloon whisk to fold, repeat with the remaining flour/cocoa. Whisk a little bit of the batter into the melted butter, and add the vanilla extract. Fold the butter mixture into the rest of the batter. Fold gently to avoid deflating the mixture too much. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.

Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Slice the cake in half lengthwise to the thickness you want for your entremet. I cut it a little less than 1 inch thick. Leftover cake can be frozen for a few months, well-wrapped in plastic.

for the blueberry insert:
150 g blueberry puree (blueberries processed in food processor until reasonably smooth)
6 g gelatin (Gold, about 3 sheets)
16 g granulated sugar
2 drops bergamot essence oil (optional)

Add the gelatin sheets into a bowl with very cold water and let it sit for 10 minutes.  In a small sauce pan, cook the blueberry puree with the sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the bergamot essence, check that the temperature is below 175 F, then add the softened gelatin sheets, well-drained from the water.  Mix well.

Add the puree inside a 7 inch cake ring lined with plastic wrap and placed over a baking sheet and freeze it. You can also use any other type of mold you like, as long as it is smaller than the Silikomart mold used to assemble the entremet later. Also keep in mind that you’ll need to easily un-mold the blueberry compote after it’s frozen solid, so choose your gadget carefully. You can leave it in the freezer for 3 hours or several days.

When the compote is frozen, place a layer of genoise chocolate cake on top of it, press gently to form the final insert of the entremet.

for the lemon mousse:
2 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
100 g granulated sugar
30 g butter, cold
6 g gelatin (Gold, about 3 sheets)
280 g whipping cream

Place the gelatin sheets inside a bowl with cold water and leave it for 10 minutes.

In a sauce pan, preferably non-stick, add the eggs, sugar and lemon juice. Cook stirring often over gently heat, until it thickens slightly . Aim at a temperature of 170 F, do not let it go higher than that, or you will scramble the eggs and ruin it completely.

Remove from the heat, pass it through a sieve into a glass bowl. Once the temperature is below 175 F, add the gelatin and the pieces of cold butter. Mix gently.  Put a plastic over the surface and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Once it is almost cooled, beat the whipping cream to soft consistency. Add it to the lemon curd, folding it gently. Your mousse is ready to use.

for the yellow mirror glaze:
100 g glucose
100 g granulated sugar
100 g white chocolate, cut in small pieces
50 g water
65 g condensed, sweetened milk
6 g gelatin (about 3 sheets)
1/2 tsp titanium oxide (optional, but worth it)
yellow food dye 

Place the gelatin sheets inside a bowl with cold water for 10 minutes as you prepare the other ingredients.

In a sauce pan, heat the glucose, sugar and water until boiling. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Let it cool slightly, and add to a bowl with the white chocolate in small pieces. After a few minutes, use a spatula to dissolve the chocolate. Add the gelatin and the condensed milk, and mix gently, try to avoid incorporating air bubbles. Add the titanium oxide and the yellow food dye. Place the mixture in a tall, plastic container and use an immersion blender to fully emulsify the glaze. At this point, you can either wait for it to cool to the pouring temperature (about 96 F), or place it in the fridge overnight, with plastic film touching the surface.  In both cases, right before glazing the cake, pass the mixture through a fine sieve to burst any small bubbles that might interfere with the mirror effect.

for the spider web effect:
2 tablespoons neutral glaze (store-bought or prepared from scratch, recipe here, omit the cinnamon)
purple food dye

Heat the neutral glaze to 150 F.  Add the purple color. Mix well. Keep hot until needed, with a hot spatula ready to go.

FINAL ASSEMBLY: The dessert is assembled inverted, that is the top will be at the bottom of the Silikomart mold. Start by spreading about 1/3 of the lemon mousse inside the Universo mold. Make sure to use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides of the mousse all around, to avoid large bubbles to stay near the surface.

Remove the blueberry-genoise insert from the freezer and place it gently over the mousse, with the cake facing up. Add a little more mousse all around the sides, then finish with the cookie layer. Use any leftover mousse to fill all gaps, press the cookie gently to make it leveled with the opening of the mold. Wrap it all in plastic and freeze at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Have the yellow mirror glaze at 96 F, with bubbles removed by sieving. Have the purple neutral glaze ready at 150 F. Un-mold the frozen cake, place it elevated over a rack so that the glaze can freely drip from the sides. Smooth the surface with your hands, but work quickly to avoid condensation of water on the surface.  Pour the yellow glaze on a circular motion, making sure all cake is covered by glaze. Immediately grab some purple neutral glaze with the hot spatula and smear over the surface, preferably a little off-center.  The effect will depend on many factors, including how much pressure you apply to the spatula, and the temperature differential between the two color glazes.  Once the glaze stops dripping, you can use a knife to clean the bottom, and carefully move it to a serving platter.  Defrost it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.  Use a hot knife to slice into pieces.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This dessert was planned in a very unusual way. Instead of choosing cake or mousse flavors, I started with the colors of the glaze. I know, crazy! I wanted bright, contrasting colors in a spider-web style. Yellow and purple popped in my mind. Only then I decided on the flavors of lemon and blueberry. Entremets join several components of contrasting textures, but to simplify it  I opted for a single element with a crunchy nature, the cookie base from this blog post by Miúda. To cut the sharpness of the lemon and add another type of texture, a chocolate genoise was included. Confession: I had it in the freezer from another baking project. With those components in mind, I went to work, using some bits and pieces found online, and some general instructions from “The Pastry Chef’s Little Black Book “ which I highly recommend. It is a very extensive list of basic formulas and variations. If you want to come up with a mousse, a compote, a genoise, you can find all the do’s and don’ts in that book.

The spider-web effect: I’ve been flirting with the idea of trying it for a long time. In theory, it is quite simple. If you are comfortable mirror-glazing a frozen mousse cake, you are 80% of the way there.  The method was created by Gerald Sattler, and is based on the non-miscibility of water and oil.  Mirror glazes are oil-based (cocoa butter, sometimes condensed milk and other types of dairy) while neutral glaze is water-based. You use the neutral glaze at a higher temperature not only to spread it easily, but because it slows down the gelling of the mirror glaze and the setting of the cocoa butter present in it.  The combination of a water-based environment with the shock of temperatures generates the interesting effect, making each cake unique. The process is absolutely fascinating. Take a look at one of Sattler’s videos here, and be ready to be amazed. The effect can be achieved in ways other than the spatula. Yes, yours truly is already planning her next adventure…

The purple color became more “purple” once the glaze set. If you look at the composite picture, taken right after pouring, you’ll notice a more “brownish” color, which made me at first a bit hysterical worried. But it definitely changed as it cooled, and the real nature of the dye I used came through. Happy ending… always a nice thing.

Here you see the slice showing the layers. The cake changed a bit by sitting in the fridge overnight.  I added the glaze around 2pm, and cut a test-slice in the evening. At that point, the cookie base was very crunchy and the cake was more on the dry side. Genoises are usually moistened with some type of syrup, but since this was going to be surrounded by a mousse and a compote, I used it without any added moisture. Next morning I cut the cake to take to the department and it was considerably improved. The cookie base not as tough, very easy to cut through and with a more melt-in-your mouth characteristic. Similarly, the cake was more moist and tender.

All in all, I’m very happy with this dessert. The lemon mousse component was the real winner.  In fact, if you’d like to serve a mousse by itself, maybe with a small cookie as adornment, consider this exact lemon version. Very refreshing, bright in the palate, smooth and with the right amount of sweetness.

I hope you enjoyed my first adventure in Spider Glaze Territory. I wanted a more prominent spider effect, but I was going absolutely crazy and losing my composure it’s hard to figure out what to do on a first time. Details such as how much neutral glaze to add, how hard to press the spatula, the exact temperature of the glaze when spreading it, they all have a huge impact on the final look. It’s such a fun technique, though. I can hardly wait to try it again. Stay tuned…


Grab a pin before you leave….

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Walk Strong3: A review of Jessica Smith’s latest workout program

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THREE YEARS AGO: Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

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NINE YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche

 

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY MOUSSE CAKE

If you are obsessed with mirror glazed cakes, perhaps you’ve heard of the absolute goddess of the mirror universe, Ksenia Penkina.  The stuff she does is purely mind-blowing. Ksenia offers classes online and for a long time I dreamed about taking one.  I finally caved and got her introductory class, in which she explained how to make this adorable mousse cake. Having changed quite a few things in the recipe, (cake base, insert and glaze), I feel it’s ok to share. Plus, it would be impossible to offer in a blog post everything you get from watching her. Running no risk of infringing any copyright issues, I show you two versions of the same mousse cake, a larger one in a traditional format, and a small cake that would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day dessert. They were both made to celebrate Aritri’s PhD defense in November, a wonderful accomplishment by our most amazing graduate student. Congratulations, Dr. Majumdar!

WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MOUSSE CAKE
(adapted from Ksenia Penkina)

for the hazelnut dacquoise:
120 g ground hazelnuts (peeled and lightly roasted)
135 g powdered sugar
40 g all-purpose flour
200 g egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
70 g granulated sugar

for the raspberry insert:
7.5 g gelatin (around 200 bloom)
40 g cold water
280 g raspberry puree, sieved to remove seeds
12 g cornstarch
80 g sugar

for the white chocolate mousse:
11 g gelatin (200 bloom)
60 g cold water
350 + 400 g heavy cream (divided)
370 g white chocolate, finely diced
30 g fresh lemon juice

for the mirror glaze (adapted from Phil’s Home Kitchen):
2½ sheets (4g) of Platinum grade sheet gelatine
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
1/2 tsp titanium oxide
red, black, pink and white gel food colouring
tempered white chocolate for decoration (optional)
sprinkles for decoration (optional)

Prepare a 7 inch cake ring by wrapping it in plastic from the bottom to the sides, so you can use it to pour the fruit insert and freeze it later. Make sure it is sitting on a flat baking sheet that will fit in your freezer.

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Make the dacquoise base: in a bowl, mix together the flour, powdered sugar, and ground hazelnuts. Reserve. Make a meringue by whisking the egg whites with the cream of tartar until very foamy. Add the sugar slowly, whisking in high-speed until soft peaks form. Delicately fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. Spread as homogeneously as possible in a baking sheet to have a thickness of about 0.4 inch (1 cm). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool it completely and store in the fridge until ready to assemble the cake.

Make the raspberry insert: In a small bowl, add the cold water, then pour the gelatin powder on the surface, gently mixing to hydrate the powder. Let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Sift the sugar with the cornstarch and add to the puree of raspberries in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat off, allow the mixture to cool to around 175 F (80 C), and add the bloomed gelatin, whisking well to fully incorporate it into the hot liquid. Pour some of it in the prepared cake ring to a depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. If using the heart-shaped mold, pour an amount to give similar thickness into that pan too. You will use the full amount made to divide in the two pans. Freeze for several hours, or preferably overnight.

Make the white chocolate mousse: mix the gelatin with water as described for raspberry insert. Reserve. Heat 350 g of heavy cream in a saucepan until bubbles appear around the edges.  Pour over the white chocolate, add the bloomed gelatin, stir gently until chocolate is dissolved. Warm the lemon juice briefly in the microwave, and pour over the white chocolate cream.  Reserve.

Whip the remaining 400 g of heavy cream until it reaches the consistency of melted ice cream. Fold gently into the reserved white chocolate mixture. Your mousse is done.

Assemble the cake: remove the pans with the frozen inserts from the freezer and remove them from the molds. Prepare a slightly larger cake ring (8 inch) with plastic wrap in the bottom to assemble the larger cake. Add to the bottom of each pan (cake ring and heart-shaped mold) a layer of white chocolate mousse. Carefully place each insert floating on top, trying to center them as well as possible. Cover the mold almost to the top with mousse, then add the reserved dacquoise on top. Fill and gaps on the sides with mousse to make a smooth top (which will be the bottom of your un-molded dessert). Freeze overnight. Really important that the cake is absolutely frozen before proceeding with the glaze.

Make the mirror glaze. 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.

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. Add 1/2 tsp titanium oxide to the mixture, divide in two portions. You are aiming for two different tones of red. I used red and a tiny amount of black dye for the darker color, red, pink and white to the second portion.

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. Once it is slightly above that (around 97 F), pour both colors in the same container, barely mix them, and pour over the frozen, un-molded cakes sitting over a rack with a baking sheet underneath.

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. Drips under the cake can be cleaned with a spatula or sharp knife. Let the glaze set at room temperature for 15 minutes, add the decorations of choice, then place the cakes in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours. Use a hot knife to cut slices without compromising the glaze.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The recipe will make two cakes, you can definitely cut it in half and bake a single large cake or a couple of small ones. I used a Silikomart mold called Amore for the small cake, and a cake ring, 8 inch diameter for the large one. The original cake base was a coconut dacquoise, but Aritri is not too wild about coconut in desserts, so I used a hazelnut version instead. Ksenia has access to a different type of gelatin, hard to find in the US, so I decided to stick to the mirror glaze formula from Philip’s blog, as I’ve been doing lately.

The larger cake was glazed a few hours before the heart cake, so I could only do the two-color effect on the big one. The leftover glaze was saved and applied to the small cake, but then the colors were obviously mixed. To add a bit more of a festive look, I used decorations from Fancy Sprinkles, a company I advise you to visit with restraint. Dangerous, very dangerous site. You’ve been warned.

To decorate the larger cake, I sat in front of a candle in a comfortable Full Lotus posture (yeah, right), went through 113 cycles of deep breathing, and… tried my hands at tempering some white chocolate. Against all odds, it was successful. Once I was done with my extended version of the Ecstatic Dance, I piped random crisscrossed lines on acetate film, let them set, broke them into small pieces and attached them to the base of the cake. In retrospect, I should have planned the decorations more carefully to come up with something a little more elegant. But truth be told, tempering chocolate is so tricky for me, I never expect it to work. When I realized it was all good, I had no specific plan on how to use it. Oh, well. Next time I’ll be ready. And then we all know what might happen: both chocolate and me will lose temper. Story of my life.

The cake tasted pretty amazing. I do think the combination of raspberries with white chocolate is hard to beat. Raspberries shine in desserts because they have such tangy flavor, cutting through excessive sweetness. The hazelnut dacquoise retained its nice texture during the freezing-thawing process, it did not turn mushy at all. I need to fine tune the amount of gelatin in the glaze, though. It seems a tad too runny.


One of the tricky parts of this type of dessert is baking a very uniform layer of cake or biscuit base. For cookie type bases (sable for instance), you can roll the dough using plastic guides with specific dimension. For cakes like dacquoise or genoise, I think baking frames could be the best option. Must investigate. Could be a fun gadget to showcase in a future “In My Kitchen.” The sacrifices one makes in the name of blogging!

As far as mousse cakes are concerned, this is a reasonably simple one, because it involves a single mousse, a single insert, and a single layer of cake/biscuit. If you are worried about making a mirror glaze, the cake could be served “naked” with some simple decorations on top. A drizzle of milk and white chocolate, a drizzle of white chocolate with some red dye dissolved in it, sprinkles, shaving of tempered chocolate, so many things you can do. But between you and me, the mirror glaze just makes a simple cake super special. Perfect to celebrate a terrific PhD defense!

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SIX YEARS AGO: Revenge of the Two Derelicts

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COFFEE-CARAMEL ENTREMET CAKE

I don’t know what happened to the cake-o-phobe that used to live inside me. Creaming sugar with butter was a phrase that inflicted pure terror. Genoise-baking and torture seemed like stuff cut from the same cloth. Nowadays, there is nothing I enjoy more than baking entremet type cakes, which can be a bit intimidating. So many things can go wrong, and often do, especially when you are trying to learn by yourself, with the help of cookbooks, videos, and great virtual friends with endless patience (thank you, you know who you are).  My most recent adventure coupled entremet and mirror glaze. Mirror mirror on the wall? No, thanks. I’d rather have it on the cake!

COFFEE-CARAMEL ENTREMET CAKE
(adapted from Keren’s Kitchen)

for the sable biscuit:
75 g unsalted butter, room temp
75 g dark brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant coffee
2 egg yolks
100 g flour
100 g finely ground hazelnuts
6 g baking powder

for the ganache layer:
75 g dark chocolate (70%)
12 g unsalted butter
6 g honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
72 g heavy cream

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

for the mirror glaze (adapted from Phil’s Home Kitchen):
2½ sheets (4g) of Platinum grade sheet gelatine
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 colouring
1 tsp coffee extract

Make the sable biscuit component. Heat oven to 350 °F and line a baking pan with parchment paper. In your stand mixer with beater attachment, beat together butter, sugar, salt and instant coffee. Mix until smooth. Add yolk and mix until combined. Then add flour, ground hazelnut and baking powder. mix until just incorporated. Divide the dough roughly in two pieces and roll each into a 3mm thick layer that you will cut as a circle, 5.5 inches in diameter. 

Transfer the dough to a baking dish lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. While still warm, cut two 5.5 inch circles. Set the circles aside. Enjoy the trimmings, or save them for other uses (great crumbled on yogurt).   

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan, until bubbles appear on edge of the surface. Pour over the chocolate, and let sit for 5 minutes. Combine the honey and butter and heat in the microwave until just melted. Mix to combine and set aside. Using a spatula, mix the chocolate in circular motion, then, add the melted butter and honey and mix to combine. 

Let the ganache cool to room temperature until it’s quite thick, then add a layer to each reserved sable cookie.  Refrigerate for 2 hours minimum.

Make the mousse. In a small bowl, mix gelatine 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 gelatine 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 (about 45 C).  When cooled, whisk the remaining heavy cream (375 g) into a stable, yet soft consistency (like yogurt). Then fold it in two additions into the caramel cream, until well combined. 

Assembling the cake. Set the bottom part of your Silikomart mold (white part) on a baking dish that will fit in your freezer.  Pour a third of the mousse into the Silikomart mold and tap it on the table to level the surface and destroy large air bubbles. Carefully insert one of the cookies right in the middle, with chocolate side facing down. Add the upper part of your Silikomart mold and make sure it’s locked in place.  Add the rest of the mousse on top of that, but reserve some to fill in the sides and top. Place the second cookie, chocolate side down on the top and pipe the remaining mousse around the edges. Use a small spatula to secure the cream on top. Freeze overnight.

Make the mirror glaze. 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 gelatine 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 coffee extract.

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, 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.

Take a deep breath, and 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. Drips under the cake can be cleaned with a spatula or sharp knife. Let the glaze set at room temperature for 15 minutes, then place the glazed cake in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours. Use a hot knife to cut slices without compromising the glaze.

Leftover glaze can be frozen and re-used. The colors will obviously mix together, so you wont’ be able to repeat a similar marble pattern.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: At the risk of getting some serious hate mail, I must tell you that entremets seem a lot harder to make than they are.  Can you bake a cookie? Can you make a mousse? Well, that’s all you need to make this entremet in particular. The components are simple, most can be made in advance, then it’s just a matter of putting it all together, paying attention to a few details.

Let’s talk cookie base: In her recipe, Keren baked a single round sable cookie and sliced it in the middle, to form two layers. That in itself proves that she is a much MUCH more skilled baker than I am. That was simply not happening in the Bewitching Kitchen. Between you and me, confession: I did try it. It was a disaster, and I had to start all over and use a more straightforward method, baking two independent sables. When I do it again, I will make the cookies slightly thinner, for a cake with a higher proportion of mousse. The fact that the cookie dough takes a bit of baking powder makes them puff a little bit, so rolling the dough to about 3mm thickness should be perfect. You will end up with a bit more scraps of cookie dough left. They are great to nibble on, and even recalcitrant dogs will do amazing tricks for a little bite.

The mousse component: My biggest mistake until now was over-whipping the cream. Intuitively, I felt that beating the cream to a certain point (pretty well-formed peaks) was important to make sure the mousse would hold. Not the case. Watching the pros do it in videos was an eye-opening experience. The cream is whipped to the point of “melted ice cream” and that’s it. If you over-beat it, it affects the final structure once frozen and you might have some cracks and problems when un-molding the cake. Plus, the mouthfeel will be compromised, a perfect mousse texture needs the cream to be whipped just to that stage. Live and learn.

The Silikomart Eclipse Mold: I think it’s a great investment (and for 9 bucks, not at all bad) if you want to take your dessert-making up a notch. It is pretty straightforward to use. Keep in mind you will always be assembling the cake upside down, so what’s at the bottom of the mold ends up on top. There is a solid, white base, you fill it almost to the top with your layers of mousse, cake, biscuit, then place the top part over it. Then the final bits of mousse and a solid base will be added (although you can do a mousse-only concoction). The main thing to keep in mind is to make sure your mousse does not have air pockets near the surface that touches the mold. Go with the back of a spoon and delicately make sure to push the mousse on the sides. Another thing to keep in mind, is that your first layer of biscuit or cake will float on the mousse at the bottom – you must be gentle not to push it too hard down, or it will show on the surface of the cake. And do your best to keep it leveled. These are small details, but each one will affect the end result. It’s not easy to end up with a perfect entremet like the pros do at the drop of a hat. But it’s a fun adventure to tackle. Link to amazon here (I am not affiliated, will make no money from your purchase).

The mirror glaze: I am absolutely in love with this technique, and should thank Philip from Phil’s Home Kitchen (former Baking Addict) for his detailed tutorial and fail-proof recipe. Mirror glazes rely on gelatin to set. Gelatin is a tricky ingredient because you must use the right amount. A little less and your glaze won’t set. A little more and it will have a very unpleasant, rubbery texture. You also need to use the right gelatin – they all have a particular “bloom number” which is a measure of its strength or gelling power. Bloom numbers vary on a range of 30 to 325. Powdered gelatin is usually around 200, and sheet gelatin like Platinum is around 235. Obviously, the higher the bloom number, the less gelatin you need. But most recipes will tell you exactly which one to use, and there is some flexibility. For instance, in most applications, 180 and 200 can be used interchangeably.

The glaze is so much fun to work with! Two details are very important, though. Minimize bubbles when mixing the glaze, and use it at the right temperature over a frozen, very smooth surface. Mousse cakes are the top choice, as they are smooth by nature. To minimize the bubbles, one trick is to pass the glaze through a sieve before using. You can do it several times, actually, each time the bubbles will be popped as they go through the sieve. And then, the fun begins, with the endless possibilities to use colors and patterns.  I used a two color glaze, most of it kept without any dye (the color was given by the coffee extract only) and a very small amount I colored dark brown with Americolor gel. Then I simply poured both in the same container, barely mixed them, and poured. It is magical… I am fully mesmerized by the process. Be prepared for additional mirrors showing up in the future.  No, not on the wall…

What really matters in a cake is the taste, and I must say this one delivered big time! I was a bit worried about the coffee extract in the glaze, because those ingredients can have a pretty artificial taste. However, I did not want to mess too much with the formula, adding real coffee to it in a larger volume. I was pleasantly surprised by the result, though. Perfectly balanced, not a hint of artificial taste to it.

As you can see, it all worked reasonably well inside the Eclipse mold. My only issue is the thickness of the sable layer. Ideally, I would like to have it maybe 3/4 of that size, so that it would be more harmonious with the ganache layer and also the cake would slice better. Keep in mind that the mousse is delicate, so if you need to use too much force to cut the slice (because your biscuit layer is too thick or too hard), the whole structure will suffer. I think my favorite part of the cake was the caramel mousse. Once glazed, the cake must sit in the fridge for about 3 hours before serving. Yes, it is a labor of love, but without love, what’s the point?

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STRAWBERRY-MANGO ENTREMET CAKE

Pushing a little bit the boundaries of my comfort zone, with this cake I practiced making a pattern on the sponge component, baking a mango-flavored meringue, and using a gelatin-based topping. The basic recipe was from the book Modern French Pastry. The cake, called Moulin Rouge, is a looker. I modified the recipe quite a bit, so I share my version with you. Make sure to read my comments, as I consider this cake still a work in preparation.

STRAWBERRY-MANGO ENTREMET CAKE
(adapted from Modern French Pastry)

for the side-decoration:
50 g butter
56 g powdered sugar
60 g egg whites (about 2 eggs)
56 g all-purpose flour
red food coloring

Mix the butter and sugar in a Kitchen Aid type mixer with the paddle attachment until creamy. Add the egg whites very slowly, a little at a time. Clean the sides of the bowl often. Add the flour and gently mix on very low-speed, then add the food dye.  Lay the stencil you intend to use on a Silpat, or if drawing a pattern free-hand, lay the design on parchment paper to make it easier to draw with the batter.  Brush the batter on the stencil, then scrape all excess off with a bench scraper. You will not use all the batter made, but it is easier to work with more than you need.  Gently pull the stencil up. See my composite photo under the recipe.

Freeze the design for an hour or so. You can do this step the day before.  Do not remove from the freezer until you are ready to bake the cake layer.

Joconde Cake Layer
65 g powdered sugar, sifted
36 g pastry flour
65 g almond flour
100 g eggs  (whole eggs, at room temperature)
120 g egg whites (from about 4 eggs)
30 g granulated sugar
75 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Heat the oven to 400 F. Add powdered sugar, flour and almond meal to the bowl of a mixer. Mix gently to incorporate them.  Add the eggs and beat on high-speed for about 5 minutes, until very fluffy. Reserve.

Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar, bringing it to soft peaks. Start with the egg whites in the mixer on low-speed, increase to medium, once you see a trail forming as the mixer is going, start adding the sugar slowly.  Once you get to soft peaks, stop. Over-beating the meringue will make it hard to incorporate it in the cake batter.  Gently fold the meringue on the egg-flour mixture that you reserved.  Add a bit of the mixture to the bowl with melted butter, mix gently. Pour that into the cake batter and gently fold.

Remove the stencil design from the freezer, pour the batter over it, trying to level it as best as you can with an off-set spatula. You want to keep the air incorporated in the batter, so be gentle. Run the spatula just over the surface, you don’t want to risk disturbing the pattern underneath it.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. You need to start noticing a little browning on the surface, but not much. If you notice the edges getting crunchy, remove from the oven. Let it cool before proceeding.

Mango-Flavored Meringue
30 g powdered sugar, sifted
30 g pulverized freeze-dried mangos (use a food processor)
80 g egg whites
80 g granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Trace two 8 inch circles on parchment paper, and place it over Silpat. Prepare a large piping bag fitted with either a large (1/2 inch) piping tip, or just cut the bag with that dimension.

Mix the powdered sugar with the pulverized mango and reserve.  Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar as described for the Joconde layer. There is a lot of sugar in this version, so you don’t have to worry about over-beating.  Once you get to stiff peaks, mix the mango-sugar mixture, folding it delicately. 

Spoon the mixture in the prepared piping bag, and pipe it on the Silpat, in each of the circles, starting from the center.  Leave a little border empty, as you want the meringue to be smaller than the diameter of the cake. You can see in the central picture of the meringue composite that the pencil drawing is about 0.5 inch larger. You could conceivably draw a smaller circle, but it is easier to see where you are and stop short, then risk going too much over it. Still, do whatever feels better for you.

Bake for 20  to 22 minutes. Meringue should feel dry to the touch and just be starting to brown.

Strawberry Mousse
12 g powdered gelatin
60 g cold water to boom gelatin
350 g strawberry puree (use the food processor)
175 g powdered sugar
350 g heavy cream

Combine gelatin with cold water and allow it to bloom for a few minutes. Place the strawberry puree in a saucepan, add the powdered sugar and mix gently over low-heat until warm.

Whisk the cream in a Kitchen Aid type mixer to soft peaks. Do not over-beat.  Reserve.

Melt the gelatin in a microwave, in very short bursts, keeping a close eye, as you don’t want it to boil, just melt smoothly.  Add some of the strawberry puree to the gelatin to incorporate it in, then pour the mixture into the rest of the puree. Mix gently, but well, you want the gelatin to be fully distributed throughout the fruit.  Add 1/3 of the puree to the whipped cream, fold. Add the remaining of the puree, fold gently. The mousse is now ready to use.

Strawberry Gelatin Topping
5 g powdered gelatin
25 g cold water
75 g soaking syrup (water and sugar in equal weights, dissolved by heating)
75 g strawberry puree (passed through a sieve to remove seeds)
red food dye, just a tiny drop (optional)

Combine the gelatin with water to bloom for a few minutes. Heat the soaking syrup, add the gelatin and stir until fully melted. Slowly stir the strawberry puree, and the food coloring, if using. Refrigerate until needed. When ready to finish the cake, warm it in a microwave in very short bursts of heat, until it’s about 90 F.

ASSEMBLING THE CAKE
Dust the cold Joconde cake with granulated sugar. Place a parchment paper on top, and flip it. Remove the silicone sheet slowly, and marvel at the pattern that you see! Now you need to decide the dimension of the cake strips. In the book he recommends 1.75 inches, but I did about 2 inches. You need two strips of cake with the exact same dimension, and they will go around the perimeter of an 8-inch diameter cake ring.  With what is left of the cake, cut one circle a little smaller than 8-inches in diameter, as it will sit inside the perimeter laid by the cake strips.

Place an acetate strip inside the cake ring. Lay the cake strips with the design facing out, they should fit very snuggly, so it is best to allow them to overlap slightly, then force them into place. Now place one meringue ring at the bottom. Add one-third of the mousse over it. Top the mousse with the cake circle, the design can be facing up or down, it does not matter as you won’t see it.  Add another third of the mousse.  Place the second meringue ring on top, add the rest of the mousse, and spread as flat as you can, trying to make it almost leveled with the top of the cake strips.  Freeze overnight. If needed, you can trim the top of the cake layer with scissors before finishing the cake.

Remove from the freezer, and pour the warmed up strawberry topping. Do it quickly, as it will solidify. Remove the cake from the ring, pushing it from the bottom, gently but with authority… Place it on a serving platter, and decorate with freshly cut strawberries.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You know that thrill of opening the lid of the Dutch oven and getting the first glimpse of the sourdough loaf inside? That is quite similar to the thrill of inverting the cake after baking, and peeling that Silpat to – hopefully – reveal the design. My heart was going at 100 bpm… The stencil I have is really big. I wish they made it in half-sheet size. I’ve been flirting with the idea of cutting it, as I will never need to lay such a huge pattern during my lifetime. Since it is so huge, I had to lay it over the Silpat on my countertop, with the stencil extending way beyond it, and making quite a mess on the granite. No way to avoid it, actually. But the process went more or less smoothly. I had to do it twice because on the first time I lifted the stencil too quickly and messed up the pattern on one of the sides. Live and learn.  Once the pattern is laid and frozen, the rest should go smoothly. The cake batter is poured right over the frozen design before it goes into the oven.

The meringue component was a bit challenging for me, particularly judging when the disk was properly baked. You do not want to have it too dark, because it gets brittle and breaks when moving it around. But under-baking is not a good idea. Mine was slightly over-baked in parts, but not fully baked in the center. I need to get a better “feel” for it, and also practice the piping to get a more uniform surface. Still, since the disk is hidden in the final dessert, any catastrophic events becomes a secret between the baker and the cake. What happens in The Bewitching Kitchen, stays in The Bewitching Kitchen.

I had to modify quite a few details in the recipe, mostly because the texture of my meringue was far from perfect. I strongly advise you to get the book if you enjoy this type of baking challenge, and try their version. Their meringue is flavored with coconut and black pepper (yes, you read that correctly). And they also add another layer of complexity with some jam. I say no more. You must get the book. Which, by the way, has one amazing recipe after another.  Like the one in the cover, yin and yang of mousse and fruits. Can you imagine bringing that to the table after a dinner party?

When I make this cake again, I will substitute the meringue layer for something else. Maybe a genoise with praline on top for texture. I have to agree with my friend Jennifer, that the meringue does not freeze as well as a sponge cake. For this type of entremet that needs to spend hours in the freezer, I think sponge layers work better. I cannot believe I am considering modifying a pretty complex cake recipe but… strange things happen in the universe. We are living in a twilight zone in ways that go beyond politics (wink, wink).

The topping reminded me of a mirror glaze, because you need to exercise patience and wait for it to cool to below body temperature. I actually find it easier to make it the day before, and warm it up for a few seconds at a time in the microwave, with super gently mixing (no whisking!), to avoid bubbles. Then it will be just a matter of minutes until you are done. Well, not actually you, but the cake.

The edges of my cake did not look as perfect as the picture in the book, so I added some sparkling sugar. Nothing like a little sparkle to cover sins. The flavor was spectacularly strawberry-ish, and the mango in the meringue a subtle added tropical bonus. By the way, when I was processing the dried mango to add to the meringue something quite funny happened. As I opened the processor, a fine dust of mango powder hit my nose. I got a severe case of…. Hiccups. Pretty funny. It passed quickly, though, but just in case you process dried mangos, avoid getting a deep sniff of the powder. Or, go for a full sniff and tell me if you get the hiccups too.

I feel I’m getting a little more comfortable with entremet cakes. The layers in this cake were better defined than my previous attempts, and the cake cut very nicely. Still,  there is a lot of room for improvement. One cake at a time, I hope to get there.

ONE YEAR AGO: Hommage to the Sun

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