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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VAGUE MOUSSE CAKE

Once again I decided to push a little the limits of my comfort zone. Actually, let me rephrase that. With this project I threw caution to the wind and walked through pretty treacherous baking neighborhoods. When you buy a Silikomart Vague mold because you are mesmerized by its looks but have no idea what to use it for, you are in for a wild ride. It’s not as if you could order a cookbook called  “Silikomart 101.”  In fact, it’s hard to find even blog posts to help you out. Lots of amazing concoctions pop up in Pinterest, but instead of recipes they direct you to fancy patisserie pages in Paris, Rome, Prague. No help whatsoever to make them materialize in your own kitchen. Through some google-overwork, I finally saw a little light at the end of the tunnel through an Italian blog hosted by Vanessa (Tra Zucchero e Vaniglia = Between Sugar and Vanilla). Thanks to my limited ability to read the language and the help of google translate to fill in the blanks, I managed to put my beautiful mold to use.  With this project, I also tried for the very first time an amazing technique: chocolate spraying with a paint gun. I know. I am gone. Beyond recovery. But… can we still be friends?

VAGUE MOUSSE CAKE
(inspired by Tra Zucchero e Vaniglia blog)

For the cookie base:
40 g all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (25 g) almond flour
¼ cup (25 g) hazelnut flour
1 tsp  unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
50 g unsalted butter, room temperature
50 g light brown sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the all-purpose, almond, and hazelnut flours and the cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar, then incorporate the flour mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Evenly spread the dough about ⅛ in thick onto the prepared baking sheet (the batter should be slightly larger than the cake ring that will be used for assembly). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely. Reserve.

for the creamy raspberry insert:
75 g sugar
190 g raspberry pulp (passed through a sieve to remove seeds)
100 g whole eggs (about 2, lightly beaten)
2.5 g gelatine in sheets
65 g butter

Coat a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and place on it a 7-inch diameter flan or cake ring, preferably with a sheet of acetate lining it.  On another baking sheet, place a Silikomart globe mold (optional).

Soak gelatine in cold water. Put the beaten eggs, the granulated sugar and the fruit pulp in a glass bowl. Bring the mixture to 180 ° F in microwave at maximum power, measuring the temperature after 50 seconds. Continue to measure it every 30 seconds (it will take over 2 minutes to get there, depending on the power of your microwave).

Once the indicated temperature has been reached, add the gelatine and mix well to dissolve it completely. Cool to about 105 to 110 F and add the butter, emulsifying with an immersion blender. Pour the cream into the previously prepared steel circle until it also fills one of the globe mold cavities . Freeze for several hours or overnight.

for the white chocolate mousse
creme anglaise component (makes more than you’ll need):
175 g fresh cream
75 g fresh milk
55 g egg yolks
32 g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan until it starts to boil. Meanwhile, with a whisk mix the egg yolks, vanilla extract and sugar, taking care to incorporate as little air as possible. Add a small amount of the hot milk mixture slowly to the egg yolks to temper it, then slowly add the rest and blend well. Cook until it reaches 170 F.  Pass the cream through a sieve and transfer it into a cold container to stop cooking. If necessary, use an immersion blender to make it fully smooth. But if you are careful heating it gently and constantly stirring it, it should not need any further blending.

You will use 150 g of the creme anglaise for the white chocolate mousse, as follows.

for the white chocolate mousse:
150 g creme anglaise (made as described above)
250 white chocolate
225 g freshly whipped cream to soft peaks
2.5 g gelatin in sheets

Soak gelatin in cold water.

Chop the chocolate coarsely and melt it in the microwave with the defrost function or maximum power 500 W.

Warm up the creme anglaise to about 100 F. When the gelatin is soft, squeeze it to remove the water and add it to the creme anglaise. Mix gently to fully dissolve it. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, wait a moment and mix well. Fold the whipped cream to the still warm mixture.  Reserve.

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

Melt together and place in sprayer at 90 F.

to decorate the globe insert: melted white chocolate

Assemble the dessert. Place the Vague mold on a baking sheet that will fit inside your freezer.  Fill with the white chocolate mousse, making a thick layer at the bottom.

Remove the raspberry creamy disc from the steel ring, removing the acetate and place it in the middle of the mousse making it sink a little.

Cover with the remaining mousse and beat the pan gently on the countertop so as to bring out any air bubbles. Level the mixture with a spatula and transfer into the freezer for several hours, preferably overnight.

Once frozen, turn out the cake and spray it with the mixture of white chocolate-cocoa butter at 90 F. Make a light coating, otherwise the mixture might just slide off the surface instead of forming a nice velvet texture.

Place the mousse over the cookie base, decorate the globe insert with a drizzle of white chocolate and set it at the center of the cake.

Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I completely changed the cookie base, as Vanessa’s recipe had some unusual way to deal with it. In her method, you make a dough, cool it, grate it, and press it to make the base. I felt too insecure to give it a try, and also thought it was a bit too convoluted. Plus, I wasn’t sure it would result in the texture I wanted for the bottom layer of my cake. I opted for a chocolate sable instead. It is a nice dough to work with, and I love the texture. For this torte, you’ll need two Silikomart molds, the Vague and a small globe mode to make the center decorative piece that goes on top. You can definitely omit it and serve the mousse cake plain. But it does add a striking look to the dessert.

A few things I learned through pain and struggles. You can see in my picture above that I used a silicone cake pan to make the raspberry insert.  I had a pretty tough time un-molding it. The sides are too high, the material a bit too flimsy, I thought the whole thing was going to be ruined. Luckily, just a few boo-boos on the surface, no major harm done. Note to self: invest in a flan ring for this type of adventure. With a 7-inch metal ring, you simply freeze it and pull it up, leaving the perfect layer of mousse behind. Lesson learned. You need the right tools for the job.

The overall scheme in this type of dessert goes like this: you make a cookie base, a creamy, frozen center insert with smaller dimension than the 8-inch full cake, and enough mousse to fill the mold, surrounding the insert. Once you have these three components, all that is left is to freeze it solid, un-mold and decorate the top. Chocolate spray is one cool method, as it gives a beautiful velvet texture. Contrary to fondant, it is a pleasure to eat. But no doubt, it is a very involved process. I used a Wagner sprayer that was a surprise gift from the saint I married. He actually tricked me. Asked me to go to Menard’s with him. Once we were there, he made a bee line to the paint section, next thing I knew, the box was in the shopping cart. He had even researched the model to get, as he knew I had been dreaming about spraying my world with chocolate. You knew already he is a keeper. This just confirms it… 

The velvet texture requires two things: the surface to be sprayed must be frozen, and the chocolate suspension must be at a maximum of 90 F, even a bit colder if possible. You need it to flow well, but to freeze immediately upon contact, forming the little velvety looking texture. Since the suspension needs to be passed through a fine sieve before going into the sprayer, things can cool down pretty fast. I decided to use my bread proofing box set at 98F to store the sprayer for 30 minutes or so. Then, I got the chocolate ready at the right temperature and worked as fast as I could to get the spray going. That brings another very important point: it is a very messy process. Very messy. People use all sorts of tricks to deal with it, usually doing it outside or in a garage with cardboard boxes forming a wall all around the piece to be decorated. But I found a tip that worked better than anything else: setting up the spraying unit inside the dishwasher!  I just removed the racks, placed a baking sheet inverted on it, a plastic turntable to hold the cake, and that was absolutely perfect. All I had to do was run the dishwasher in the end.

I watched quite a few youtube videos on chocolate spraying to make sure I would have some chance of getting it right. One thing is certain: no matter how many videos you watch, how many detailed instructions you read, nothing prepares you for the real thing. It’s a wild experience. The sprayer works very efficiently but it is very hard to see what is happening because there is a haze of spray everywhere. It was also not very easy to turn the cake while spraying, the Wagner is not feather-light. Plus, my heart was beating at 120 bpm, maybe faster. To summarize, things got intense pretty quickly. Let me rephrase that also: Hell broke loose, big time. I hope the next adventure will be easier, though. At least I am confident that the set up I designed works well to keep the temperature in the correct range for a while, I won’t need to rush to get it done. Apart from a few problems here and there, I am reasonably happy with the way my first adventure with the Silikomart Vague turned out.

As far as taste is concerned, this was absolutely scrumptious! It is pretty hard to beat this trilogy: chocolate cookie, white chocolate mousse, and raspberry cream. They all go together like a dream…

Things to keep in mind for next time:

1. A little more gelatin in the mousse so that it will un-mold with a more defined surface.

2. Place the raspberry insert slightly more on the center of the dessert, so that it won’t be at all visible underneath the top mousse layer. In other words, add a bit more mousse inside the mold before setting the insert on top.

2. The cookie base could be rolled thinner, but opinions are divided on this issue. Phil thought it was perfect the way it was.

3. Be a bit more Zen with the spray paint gun. There’s really no need to scare three dogs and a husband into hiding. Even if your contact lenses fogged up with the spray, no amount of screaming will make them clear up. That is a fact you proved to yourself. Next time,  keep calm, and spray on.

Make Sally and Bogey Quit That happy, grab a pin!


ONE YEAR AGO: Cottage Loaf, my very own technical challenge

TWO YEARS AGO: Pork Ribs: Sticky, Spicy and Awesome

THREE YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Silky Cauliflower Puree with Almond Milk


EIGHT YEARS AGO:
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NINE YEARS AGO: Summer’s Finale

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PTICHYE MOLOKO, A RUSSIAN DESSERT

Have you heard of it? In plain English it means Bird’s Milk, a very traditional Russian delicacy, also common in Ukraine and Romania. The name originates from Greek, bird’s milk implying a delicacy very hard to obtain, a rare pleasure. My encounter with this dessert deserves further explanation.

I’ve been seriously bitten by the dangerous Silikomart bug. Silikomart is an Italian company specialized in silicone molds for cakes, mousses, chocolates, anything your mind dreams, they might just make it. They can be pricey, but I found out that ebay is a delightful source to make this type of obsession even harder to control. Oh, well. The bottom line is that somehow I found myself with a couple of amazing molds and not that many recipes adapted for them. A cart-before-the-horse situation. I put google to work and next thing I knew, I stumbled upon a blog that blew my little mind away. The blog is written in Russian and… wait for it… Portuguese!  I know, it was fate. The food blogger behind it, Ekaterina, is a fantastic professional patissière who trained with top chefs in Russia.  I still have a hard time believing that I found one of the best desserts blogs out there, and she writes it in my native language. Reading her blog (Verdade de Sabor) became my routine late at night, indulging in her gorgeous dessert posts before falling asleep. That’s how I became acquainted with Bird’s Milk. A cookie base. A milk souffle-ish on top. A thin chocolate layer wrapping it all.  And a big smile when you bring it to the table!

BIRD’S MILK (PTICHYE MOLOKO)
(very slightly modified from Verdade de Sabor)

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

for the milk filling:
100 g of egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
180 g sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
160 g water (divided in 60 and 100 g)
20 g gelatin powder
100 g of softened butter
100 g condensed milk

Chocolate cover:
400 g of chocolate 50-55%
100 g of oil (I used grapeseed)

Make the cookie base. Heat the oven to 350 F.  In a bowl beat the butter and the powdered sugar and the vanilla 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 square, 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 circles just slightly smaller than the diameter of your silicone mold. You can also make the dessert as a single rectangle or square, using a ring to assemble it. Your choice. Allow to cool completely.

Make the milk souffle:  Hydrate the gelatin in 60 mL ice water. Then melt in a water bath (I placed it in the microwave for bursts of  seconds, watching it very carefully). Reserve. In a bowl, beat the butter well with the condensed milk until you get a fluffy cream. Reserve.

Add the sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan, pour 100 mL cold water. Put a culinary thermometer in the mixture and bring to medium heat. Meanwhile, in the mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. When the syrup boils, add the cream of tartar. When the syrup reaches 240 F (116 ° C), remove from the heat, and add the hot syrup to the egg whites gradually. Continue beating the meringue for a few more minutes or until it forms firm peaks. Then slowly add the melted gelatin, and continue to beat. Reduce the speed of the mixer to the minimum and gradually add the cream of butter and condensed milk.

Pour the souffle into the silicone molds (I made 6 individual serving ones, but had leftover filling that I added to a smaller mold and saved in the freezer for later).  Place a cookie on top, and press it slightly into the mousse, but do not sink it in. Cover with plastic film and freeze. You can do that a couple of days in advance.

Make the chocolate coating: Melt the chocolate in a water bath or in the microwave. Add oil and stir well. Allow to cool at room temperature to 86 to 93 F (30-34 ° C). That is really pretty cold, below body temperature. You can also make that the day before and warm it up gently, without stirring with a whisk, as you don’t want bubbles to form.

Unmold the domes and cover with the glazing. Decorate with tempered chocolate if you desire. I used white chocolate drizzle.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used this mold for assembly of our dessert. It is not a Silikomart, but I like the quality and they are quite a bit cheaper.  In Ekaterina’s blog, she used a different mold, in the “buche de Noel” shape, but you can assemble this dessert in a square format too. Whatever you do, the cookie base must be cut slightly smaller because the goal is to cover the dessert with chocolate and hide the base.  Alternatively, you could cut it exactly the same size, coat the frozen milky filling with chocolate, let it set and then place it over the naked cookie. But it would have a totally different look. I like the way she did it, so that the cookie becomes a nice crunchy surprise as you cut into the dessert.

To un-mold the domes, I advise you to get a hairdryer and heat the surface of the dome just for a few seconds – that releases them very nicely, as you can see below.  In fact, it’s amazing how often a hairdryer can come in handy when making more elaborate desserts. I rarely dry my hair, so it now lives in the kitchen… Go figure!

See the difference? I am so glad I thought about the hairdryer trick after un-molding the first one. In this type of dessert, any boo-boo makes the final product suffer. The trickiest part of the dessert is in fact the last one, the coating with the chocolate. It must be cold enough that it will settle right away instead of sliding down and not coating the surface. But that means you’ll have ONE SHOT at getting it right. I advise you to look at youtube videos to see how the pros do it, then cross your fingers and try it yourself.  Keep in mind that you won’t be able to fix the surface with an offset spatula, or go at it again a second time. Both options will result in a wavy, not-attractive coating. I opted for a drizzle of white chocolate in the end not only because of the contrast of color, but to hide some of the imperfections I left as I poured the chocolate over the dome. What can I say? I am still learning and making mistakes in the process… Speaking of the drizzle (and mistakes), my virtual teacher Gary gave me a nice tip to make them better. Go passed the dome as the chocolate drizzle falls on it, so that you get a straight line all the way across. It will be more elegant that way. Lesson (hopefully) learned.

The dessert is truly delicious and worth the effort of the preparation. In fact, it’s not that hard if you make the components in advance and take your time. You can definitely make the filling a couple of days earlier, bake the cookie in the morning, and assemble it all before a dinner party. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, and remove to room temperature about 15 minutes before you want to enjoy it. Then you’ll have a perfect texture in the filling.

I know that her blog being written in Russian and Portuguese makes it a bit hard to fully enjoy it, but I urge you to go there and marvel at her posts. She is also a delightful person, very responsive and helpful. She reads and writes in English, so comments in English are not a problem.

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