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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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

TWO YEARS AGO: Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette

THREE YEARS AGO: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

FIVE YEARS AGO: Apple-Cinnamon Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Blueberry Galette

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

NINE YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner

BLOOD ORANGE ENTREMET CAKE


Entremets seem to be the rage at the moment. Originally, entremets were small portions of sweet concoctions served in between savory items in a multi-course banquet type meal. We are talking royalty stuff, from the Middle Ages to the overindulgence that was happening in France before 1789 (wink, wink). Nowadays, the term is applied to cakes that involve multiple layers with different textures and flavors. Basically it is a layer cake with severe superiority complex. My version was closely based on a Craftsy class taught by Kathryn Gordon, Contemporary Layer Cakes.  I don’t have permission to publish the recipe but will share an overview.

BLOOD ORANGE ENTREMET CAKE
Recipe Overview
(from Craftsy)

For the cake component, a Jaconde sponge is prepared using the following ingredients:
6 egg yolks beaten with 90g sugar
110g  almond flour sifted with 60g cake flour
a touch of vanilla and salt
60g melted butter
meringue made with 6 egg whites and 90g sugar

The cake batter will be enough to bake one round 8 inch cake and you will have leftover batter to spread as a thin rectangle for the sides (for lack of a better term) of the cake. The round cake will be halved crosswise so that you’ll have two layers for the entremet. To line the pan, make sure you will have 2 pieces that will cover its whole circumference. You can use the mathematical formula C = π x D or cut a piece of string that goes around the pan, and measure it. In any case, you will arrive at the need for two pieces of cake 13 inches long. The height depends on how tall your cake will be in the end. Make it around 6 inches so you have some flexibility. The top can be trimmed once assembled. I placed a Silpat on top of the paper and spread the cake batter on it, using the drawing underneath to guide me.

For the marble effect you have two options: paint some food color on the Silpat and pour the batter on top, or divide the batter in two portions, add orange food color to half, and pour the two batters together, spreading them gently so that the color is not fully distributed.  I prefer the second method because it gives a much more subtle effect.  But, if you are in a Pollock frame of mind, go wild with a brush.

In the center you see the full rectangle of very thin cake, that was split in half lengthwise and placed inside the ring. Those are technically called “sponge strips” and I thank Gary, patissier extraordinaire for enlightening me. Please keep in mind that the photos are not on the same scale. The cake is assembled inside an 8-inch ring. First the sides are set in place, with the swirl facing the outside. Then the bottom layer.

Filling components:
Blood Orange Cremeux:  cream made with 8 egg yolks tempered and cooked with 360mL heavy cream previously infused with the zest of two blood oranges and 3/4 cup of blood orange juice.  Once the mixture coats the back of a spoon, it is poured over 200g white chocolate and 6g sheet gelatin, softened in cold water.
Caramelized rice cereal: 1/4 cup sugar is heated in a heavy pan until amber. To that 1/2 cup popped rice cereal is added, quickly mixed and poured on a Silpat or parchment paper.
Caramelized blood orange segments: Make a syrup with 100g sugar and 4 tablespoons water. Heat until fully dissolved, then pour over the segments of one blood orange. Let the fruit sit in the syrup until cold, drain before using in the cake.

To the bottom cake layer, a little cremeux is added and spread. Then pieces of caramelized puffed rice. A bit more cremeux, caramelized orange segments, and more cremeux on top. The second piece of cake goes over it, pushing down to make sure it’s all well compacted.

The top of the cake is brushed with a bit of melted white chocolate and oil, to seal the layer. The whole thing is frozen for several hours, then the cake is covered with a very thin layer of white chocolate mirror glaze, made with sugar (50g dissolved in 2 T water), heavy cream (2 T), corn syrup (1 T) and white chocolate (150 g). Kathryn explains exactly how to do it in a way that the top will be very smooth.

The cake is then removed from the ring, the top edge is trimmed, if so desired, and the top is decorated with bits of caramelized rice cereal and blood orange zest.

Comments: First of all, my apologies for not posting the full recipe, but without permission to do so, I cannot do it. You can find the basic method of preparing a Jaconde sponge, as well as all other components online. In fact, many different cake formulas and fillings will work to produce a similar entremet cake. All you need to keep in mind is a contrast of textures and flavors.

The blood orange cremeux turned out very refreshing, so even considering this is a rich, indulgent dessert, it had a light and bright quality to it. Rice puffed cereal is a good alternative to the famous Gavottes cookies that were part of my recent Gateau Royal. You can definitely caramelize it and  use it to add crunch to any layer cake. Those things are sold in huge bags, and we don’t eat puffed rice as a cereal, so I see a few aventures with this caramelized version in my future.

This Craftsy class by Kathryn is really wonderful, because not only she explains every single step of the recipe in real-time, but she encourages you to plan and make your own version of this elaborate cake. Although it might seem a bit too involved, each component can be made in advance. I actually baked the cakes and made the cremeux on a Saturday, the other components Sunday morning, assembled the cake, froze it, and added the mirror glaze in the end of the day. Piece of cake! (Literally).

Just like macarons are my favorite cookies, I suspect entremets are quickly becoming my favorite type of cake. The possibilities of cake, fillings, textures, and icing are endless.

ONE YEAR AGO: Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: A Tale of Two Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken in Green Pipian Sauce, Sous-vide Style

FIVE YEARS AGO: Classic Shrimp Gobernador Tacos

SIX YEARS AGO: A Walk Towards the Sunset

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Heavenly Home-made Fromage Blanc

NINE YEARS AGO:  A Perfect Sunday Dinner

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