MINI-HEART CAKES FOR YOUR VALENTINE


Valentine’s Day is so commercial. Who needs a special day to celebrate love and friendship? No one. We should all just ignore it. With that in mind, let me say I have no problem with a special day to shower all those special persons in your life with attention and affection. A partner, a special friend, that family member you look up to and adore. Today I share a recipe that seems a bit involved, but when you break it down into its components, it is quite simple. Trust me. I almost always speak the truth.

VALENTINE’S MINI-HEARTS MOUSSE CAKES
(inspired from many sources)

for the sable base:
120 g cold butter, cut in pieces
65 g powdered sugar
260 g all-purpose flour
30 g almond flour
pinch of salt
1 egg

Heat oven to 375 F.

Add the sugar, flour, almond flour and salt to the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at low speed for about 30 seconds just to incorporate the ingredients together. Add the cold butter and process until the butter gets in small pieces, a bit smaller than pea-size. Add the egg and mix just until it starts to glue together as a dough, but stop before it all gets into a single mass to avoid gluten formation.  Gather the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and gently form it as a disk with your hand.

Roll the pastry between plastic or parchment paper to a 3mm thickness. Cut heart or round shapes. Place over parchment paper on a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.  Bake for about 10 minutes until it starts to get golden around the edges.  Reserve.

for the quinoa-crisp:
115 g white chocolate
20 g pistachio paste (or almond butter)
20 g puffed quinoa (or rice Krispies)
for home-made puffed quinoa, click here

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 in freezer until  needed.

For the Raspberry Mousse insert:
2 g of Platinum gelatin (1 sheet)
100 g mashed raspberries (fresh or frozen), seeds sieved out
20 g granulated sugar
100 g whipping cream, cold

First, put the gelatin leaves, in a bowl with very cold water to bloom for 10 minutes.  In a small saucepan, heat the raspberry puree until it boils. Remove from heat, wait 5 minutes, drain the gelatin and add to the mixture. Mix until completely dissolved. Let cool to about 95 F.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks. Gradually incorporate the cream into the raspberry mixture. Place the mousse in the semi-spheres and freeze overnight.

For the mascarpone mousse:
6 g Platinum gelatin (3 sheets)
80 ml whipping cream
55 g egg yolks
80 g granulated sugar
160 g mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
320 g heavy cream

Bloom the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Combine egg yolks with sugar, whisking well and set aside. In a saucepan, heat 80 ml of cream until it boils. Remove from heat, and slowly pour a bit of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture, to temper it gently. Add the rest of the cream and transfer all the mixture to a saucepan.

Over low heat, cook until 180 F stirring constantly. Remove from heat, drain the gelatin, and add to the mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool down to around 140 F. Add the mascarpone cheese, mix until the cheese is incorporated. Process with a hand mixer, to emulsify. Add the vanilla paste, and let it cool to around 95 F.

Meanwhile, whip the 320 ml of cream to soft peaks. Incorporate the  cream gradually to the mascarpone mixture. Place in the mini-hearts mold, 1/2 to the volume, spread gently with a spoon around the sides to avoid air bubble.  Drop the frozen raspberry inserts, cover with mousse almost to the top, place the crunchy quinoa layer on top, press gently and freeze overnight.

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

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

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. Add the red food gel dye. 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.

The ideal temperature to glaze is 92 to 94 F. Glaze the frozen mousse cakes, decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Defrost 2 hours in fridge before serving.

 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For this dessert I used a mini-heart mold from Silikomart and a mini-half-sphere mold. The mini-heart mold I bought came with a cookie cutter with the exact dimension to made a cookie base. I am not sure every single mold sold comes with the cutter (I got mine at ebay a while ago), but any heart-shaped cookie cutter will work, if the dimensions are approximately right.

Start your preparation two days before serving, by making the raspberry centers. In this case I used a mousse, which tones down the sharpness of the raspberry a bit. If you prefer a sharper, more intense taste, consider using just the puree thickened with gelatin, like I shared in this post. You can also make the crunchy base with puffed quinoa (or rice Krispies) and the sable base two days in advance. Or even earlier. Stick the crunchy layer in the freezer, keep the sable at room temperature.

The day before serving make the mascarpone mousse and assemble the little cakes. Freeze everything and if you want to make your life very easy on serving day, prepare the mirror glaze emulsion and store it in the fridge.

On serving day, glaze those babies and keep in the fridge to defrost for a couple of hours. It is a process I love making, no matter how many times I do the mirror glaze thing, I am always in awe…

I had to add sprinkles because that’s how I roll… Also, they work wonders if you have a small boo-boo here and there on the glaze. Just drop a silver star on it, and call it a day.

You could omit the crunchy later with puffed quinoa but it is so simple to make and it does add a lot to the dessert. You can buy puffed quinoa or quickly make some, following the instructions here. If you don’t have  pistachio paste, use a bit of almond butter softened in the microwave just to make it a tad more spreadable. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will work.

I am pretty happy with the way these little hearts turned out. Both mousses combined well in flavor and texture. If you don’t have the hear-shaped mold, use large half-spheres. You can also go for dessert rings and make the insert as a smaller component with any shape that is convenient for you. Just keep in mind the volumes you will need. Every component can be scaled up easily if necessary, but the raspberry mousse already makes more than you’ll need for 8 mini-cakes. I had enough for 15 inserts and only used 8.  Leftovers are in the freezer, patiently waiting for a next opportunity to play.

Finally, when you pour the mirror glaze, do it over a baking sheet lined with Saran wrap, so you can easily store leftovers. They freeze well and if you accumulate several colors you can go Pollock on your next dessert…

ONE YEAR AGO: Blue Moon Milk

TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooked Chicken Meatballs

THREE YEARS AGO: Zesty Flourless Chocolate Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Maple Pumpkin Pecan Snacking Cake

FIVE YEARS AGOSilky Gingered Zucchini Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Sweet Fifteen!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flaxseed Sourdough

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Green Beans with Miso and Almonds

NINE YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

TEN YEARS AGO: White Bread

 

POLENTA BITES WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE

I like to think I’m a person who resists temptations. You know, self-control, determination, that sort of thing. It all goes reasonably well until I am confronted with a new, sexy silicone mold. Or a pair of colorful earrings. But that’s about it. Ok, maybe nail polish is hard to say no to at times. I swear, that’s it now. Back to cooking. Silikomart has been my obsession for a very long time. Today I share with you a cute appetizer idea using one of their molds: Sushi. Adorable. Can you make it without the mold? Absolutely!  But… if you also suffer from Silikomart-weakness, maybe you should bring one home…

POLENTA BITES WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

200 g corn flour (for polenta, quick-cooking or regular)
500 ml water
salt to taste
1 T butter
1 cup tomato sauce (store bought or home made)

for the spicy cilantro sauce (makes more than you’ll need):
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tsp Asian fish sauce
1/8 cup rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Sriracha sauce 

Bring salted water to a boil in a saucepan. Pour the corn flour slowly constantly stirring with a spoon. Cook according to the brand of corn flour you are using. I used regular polenta, and it took about 30 minutes to get fully smooth. Once the polenta is cooked, stir in the butter.

Make the spicy cilantro component. Place the cilantro leaves in a food processor and whirl until finely minced. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Reserve. Leftovers keep a few days in the fridge. 

Pour the polenta into the Sushi Maki silicone moulds and level with a spatula. Let rest until solidified, then unmold them, spoon the tomato sauce in the small cavity, and a touch of spicy cilantro dressing.

Serve warm or cold.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These polenta bites can stand very well with just the tomato sauce and if you like, a bit of cheese on top, a quick run under the broiler. It turns out I had made a mahi-mahi sous-vide just a couple of days before, and the spicy cilantro sauce was part of that recipe. I decided to add just a little touch to top the tomato sauce and it all worked surprisingly well, so I incorporated in this post. I realize that I went overboard with the sauce and hid the nice little hole on the top of the mold. Oh, well… no major harm done. But I exercised a little more restraint on my second batch…

In this case, I finished them with a brushing of olive oil and a visit to the air-fryer for about 10 minutes at 390 F. Delicious texture, probably even better if serving tem as finger food. If you don’t have an air-fryer, just place them in a 450 F oven until golden brown.  Then top with some warm sauce, and serve.

You can use mini-muffin tins to make the exact same type of preparation, but there’s something about the Sushi mold that I find pretty irresistible. I got mine on ebay last year, but The Place that Sells it All carries it. Obviously.

ONE YEAR AGO: Vague Mousse Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Cottage Loaf, my very own technical challenge

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

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

FIVE YEARS AGO: Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: Silky Cauliflower Puree with Almond Milk


NINE YEARS AGO:
 Popeye-Pleasing Salad
.
TEN YEARS AGO: Summer’s Finale

 

 

 

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.

ONE YEAR AGO: Lebanese Lentil Salad and a Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Cottage Loaf

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Loaf with Cranberries and Walnuts

FOUR YEAR AGO: Sichuan Pork Stir-Fry in Garlic Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO: Our Green Trip to Colorado

SIX YEARS AGO: Ditalini Pasta Salad

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

NINE YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

TEN YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers

 

A MODERN TAKE ON TARTE TATIN

It started with Shepherd’s Pie. It continued with Avgolemono Soup and Moqueca. Clearly, I’ve been taking liberties with classics and not acting ashamed. Tighten your seatbelt and be prepared for another wild ride. I share with you a modernized version of Tarte Tatin. It has no flaky crust. It is not cooked on the stove top. It does not have a thick, gooey layer of caramelized apples on top. But the overall concept is similar enough. Or so I say. A cookie base replaces the flaky crust, and a layer of apples slowly cooked in caramel sits proudly on top of it. Don’t skimp on the whipped cream. It adds a creamy and refreshing counterpoint that goes perfectly with the other components.

A  MODERN TARTE TATIN
(slightly modified from J’en reste Baba)

mold used: Silikomart Vague, but you can also use a 20cm ring or cake pan

for the caramel-apple:
5 Golden Delicious apples
65g of honey
40g of sweet butter
125g granulated sugar
60g of whipping cream
5g of gelatin in sheets (I used Platinum strength)

for the cookie base:
220g all-purpose flour
30g cornstarch
1 pinch of salt
40g ground hazelnuts (or hazelnut flour)
90g powdered sugar
130g softened butter
1 egg

for the stabilized whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream (232 g)
14 g powdered sugar
1 tsp gelatin (powder)
1/2 tsp vanilla (I used clear extract)
golden sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Prepare the apple topping: Peel the apples, core them, and cut them in small pieces (as shown in the composite photo below).

Put the butter and honey in a pan and melt them together. Add the apple pieces to the pan and coat with honey and butter mixture. Cook the apple slices over low heat until soft and slightly translucent, then set aside. If they released any juices, drain the liquid.

Soften the gelatin sheets in cold water while you make the caramel. Heat the cream gently in a saucepan or in a Pyrex container using the microwave. Heat another small saucepan and pour the powdered sugar into it, one-third at a time, turning the pan after each addition so that the sugar mixes well and turns into caramel, slowly. Watch the sugar like a hawk, do not allow it to burn, keep moving the pan off the heat if necessary. Do not use a spoon, or you might set up a catastrophic crystallization reaction and will have to start all over.

Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the hot cream (beware of splashing), stirring with a spatula as you gently pour it on the caramel. Mix everything well, allow it to cool to about 80C and add the drained gelatin.  Once the gelatin is well dissolved, pour the whole thing on the apples reserved. Gently combine caramel and apples, and add to your silicone mold, or to a ring (make sure you use some type of acetate or plastic wrap to facilitate un-molding later.

Pack the layer of apples well, because you want that component to lay fully flat on the cookie base. Freeze the apple-caramel overnight.

Make the cookie base: Sift together the flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and salt into the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer with the flat beater. Add the hazelnut powder, turn the mixer on and combine all ingredients lightly.  Mix the egg gently with a fork inside a cup and add to the bowl. Give it a few turns in low-speed. Add the softened butter in pieces and mix gently until the dough starts to form a ball. At this point stop the mixer and turn the dough into a countertop, finish mixing by hand. You do not want to develop gluten.

You should refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out 4 or 5mm thick.  Cut a circle 3 cm bigger than the diameter of your mold. Silikomart Vague is exactly 20cm in diameter, I cut my dough a bit larger than 23cm. Refrigerate the disc for 30 minutes or place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

As the dough cools, turn the oven at 370 F. Once the pastry is cool, bake it for about 20 minutes, until the edges start to get golden, and the center is fully set. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool completely. Cookie base can be made a few days ahead.

Make the whipped cream.  In a small saucepan, combine the powdered sugar and gelatin. Gradually stir in ¼ cup  of the cream. Bring the mixture just to a boil, stirring constantly. It will thicken slightly. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and allow it to cool just to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla. In a chilled mixing bowl, whip the remaining cream just until traces of the beater marks begin to show. Add the cooled gelatin mixture in a steady stream, beating constantly. Whip  just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

Assembly: remove the frozen topping from the freezer and carefully un-mold it. Place the cookie base on the serving platter, set the frozen apple insert centered on top. Spoon the whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip or any other star tip of your choice. Decorate the sides and the center of the tart with the cream. You will have whipped cream leftover.  If you like, decorate with golden sprinkles.

Keep 1 to 2 hours in the fridge to defrost before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I wish I could take credit for this interpretation of The Tatin, but all credit must to go to the food blog that originally featured it over a year ago: J’en reste Baba. I followed her recipe to a T, except for the whipped cream, which I opted to stabilize with gelatin. As I’ve mentioned before, my desserts are all made the day before they are enjoyed, as I take them to the department on Mondays. That “Mondays with Sweetness” thing. I am normally out of the house by 7:15am, so the idea of fiddling with whipping cream and piping bags earlier than that would be a bit too crazy. Stabilizing the whipped cream works well, and this method my favorite by far. The taste is unchanged and the texture perfect.

The tart can be served straight from the fridge once it de-frosts, but keeping it at room temperature for a while makes the texture of the topping even better, so consider that option if you make it.

This preparation could be used in different types of presentation, don’t let the lack of a Silikomart mold stop you. You can do a simple round insert, or even make individual portions, cutting circles of cookies and using a dome or flat circle for the apple. Just make sure to cut the cookie base with enough space around to allow for the whipped cream piping.

I had a bit of trouble using the 5 apples. At first it seemed to me there was too much fruit for not enough caramel. I might have left 3/4 of the last apple out of the mixture. After having made it, I’d say it would probably have been ok to add them all, but I was afraid that too much fruit would interfere with un-molding the topping. Kind of a tough call. Weighing the fruit could be a better way to go. But if you start with 5 medium apples and use your best judgment, I anticipate no problems.

The dry caramel is the trickiest component. I had never made dry caramel before and things can degenerate quite quickly once it gets going. It does give it a stronger taste and if you go overboard, it could end up bitter. If I make this dessert again (so hard to repeat things when I have that mile long list of things to try), I might try a “regular” caramel made from sugar-water as a starting point.

I really loved the combination of the cookie, the apples and the whipped cream, and the tart was gone by 10am, which I suppose is a good endorsement of this modernized Tatin…

ONE YEAR AGO: Minnie-Macarons, a Fun Project with a Happy Ending

TWO YEARS AGO: Nigella Lawson in the Bewitching Kitchen

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut-Raisin Bran Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Chips

FIVE YEARS AGO: Turkey Chili with Almond Butter

SIX YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Leek and Cheese Tart

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club; Triple Chocolate Brownies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Shaved Asparagus Salad

NINE YEARS AGO: Indonesian Ginger Chicken

 

 

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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