It was Mr. Meow's birthday but he didn't want to have anything to do with birthday. In fact, he wanted to be a hermit on his birthday. NOT ALLOWEDS!! There are plenty of people who would like to celebrate with him including his parents, so he isn't allowed to hide. If he wants to be a hermit, he needs to be single and sever ties with family.
Weeks ago, I asked Mr. Meow what sort of cake he would like and gave him the Laduree book to flip through. He flipped through it unenthusiastically. I suggested the Intensement Chocolat - sort of mousse cake with a macarons bottom and a ganache coat. "Meh" or no repsonse. What sort of ass-hattery is this?!?! People want to do things for you and you let them to appease them, as long as it's within reason. I think his mother would kill to have people do things for her. She is always complaining how people just "take and take and take" from her and not give any back, whether voluntary or not.
Anyway, Meow is always partial to chocolate mousse, so chocolate mousse cake it is. But not with a macarons bottom. I am already making 50 macarons for a party this week, so no. No more macarons. Meow has a favourite chocolate mousse recipe kicking around, it never fails, always fluffy. And it's a 3 kinds of chocolate mousse layer recipe with the option of having a cake as the bottom layer instead of dark mousse. So, I decided to revisit my cake making skills (or lack of rather), and decided to make a Devil's Food Cake for the base seeing as how the book says it's a work horse recipe for many variations of chocolate cake. It shouldn't come out too dry or crumbly, should be stable enough on its own. That's what Meow likes, a stable cake that can withstand being at room temperature for a few hours.
So, Devil's Food Cake bottom, dark chocolate mousse middle, white chocolate mousse top. Okay. Wait. BORING!! I have made this sort before, no challenge, not very high on the aesthetic scale, it's okay, but not WOW. I have a craving for strawberries, last time strawberries cream with chocolate glaze coat on the cheesecake worked wonderfully for flavour. Somehow, the idea of a fraisier came to mind. It's really just French for strawberry cake, but the trademark of a fraisier is the halved strawberries that show up around the outside of the cake. You see a ring of these cut strawberry faces along the side of the cake, that's just pretty. Done deal. But wait! Just strawberries lining the edges isn't enough for flavour, and Meow doesn't want to deal with strawberry purée or chopping up strawberries or bavaria cream. The mental image of jelly chunks in whipped cream kept popping up in my head. This idea actually came from this local Asian bakery that does black forest cake cherry filling this way - jelly in whipped cream.
Okay, so cake, brown mousse, strawberry whipped cream, and white mousse. Mirror glazed top. Forget the ganache glaze, that was terrible looks-wise.
Devil's Food Cake
Adapted from Art and Soul of Baking
71 g unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (Fry's)
1/2 cup + 1 cup water
170 g unsalted butter, softened
198 g sugar
170 g firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
198 g sifted cake flour
35 g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Yield: Makes 2 9-inch cake layers. (I would cut this recipe in half, and measure out my eggs and add only half)
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Line and oil a 9 inch pan with parchment paper
3. Mix the cocoa powder by placing the powder in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup of simmering hot water to it. Whisk or stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
|Too warm will melt the butter and ruin the texture of the cake|
5. Beat the eggs and vanilla in another mixing bowl to blend. Lower the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time and allow it to fully absorb before adding more.
6. Put together the dry ingredients in another bowl. Sift the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt together.
7. Add the dry and wet (cocoa water) alternately. Begin with 1/3 of the dry, then half the cocoa water, and finish off with the dry. Continue to beat until smooth.
|It kinda fluffed a bit due to the eggs, but I think that's what gave it the wonderful texture|
|I also soaked some cotton towels with cold water and wrapped them around the pan|
I didn't want to pin the towels so I place the cake pan on top of a cookie sheet so the
towels don't fall through
This is all in an attempt for even baking (no dome tops)
|The most even cake I've ever baked|
|Cat being useful - sitting on my recipe binder|
Adapted from No Special Effects
Cream Anglaise Base
120g (1/2 cup) whole milk
2 large egg yolks
15g (1-1/2 tablespoons) sugar
25g (1-1/2 tablespoons) light corn syrup
83 g white chocolate, chopped
90 g dark 72% chocolate, chopped
375g (1-1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
45g (3 tablespoon) cold water
About 1 lb of strawberries
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil.
2. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and corn syrup. Slowly pour the milk into the yolks in a thin stream while stir madly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leave a trail when you run your finger through it (it will take a while, but don't let it curdle!).
3. While the cream anglaise is cooking, you can prepare the chocolate sauces by chopping the chocolate and placing it in a separate bowl
|My white chocolate are already "pre-chopped"|
5. Pour about half of the cream anglaise over each type of chopped chocolate, allow it to sit for a minute and begin stirring to combine.
6. Sprinkle gelatin over a little bowl of cold water and allow to bloom and absorb the water. Then scrape about half of it into each bowl of chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine well.
|Stirring poo ;)|
|To hull: 45 degree angle knife, cut around the top in a circle|
9. Place your halved strawberries along the sides of the pan to approximate how many you'll be needing
|I needed a few extras after this|
11. Whip your whipping cream to stiff peaks and divide evenly into your chocolate mixture
|I weighed it out for dividing|
|Looks absolutely unappetizing|
13. If you have levelled your cake by slicing the dome top off, you can skip this. If you didn't, then spread a little bit of chocolate mousse onto the cake and push it to the edges to fill the domed/sloped gap
14. Place the halved strawberries along the edges of the pan, cut side out. Push it right into the sides of the pan, use the mousse to help it stay up and in place. If you use mousse to keep it in place, just be aware that the mousse will come up the sides onto the face of the strawberries a bit
15. Use the rest of the chocolate mousse to fill the cake either by piping it or spread it using an offset spatula
From Meow's crazy head
350 mL whipping cream
2 packages of strawberry jelly
1 cup of hot water
2 cups of ice cubes
1. Add 1 cup of hot water to 2 packages of jelly powder and stir to dissolve
2. Add 2 cups of ice cubes and stir until jelly thickens. Remove unmelted ice cubes
3. Store in fridge to set completely
|Quick set jelly will not have a smooth texture to it even when set, but it doesn't matter as|
it will be broken up in the whipped cream
4. Whip the whipping cream until firm peaks
5. Gently stir in the strawberry jelly, keep it chunky for texture
7. Take out the white mousse from the fridge, give it a good stir and spread it on top of the strawberry whipped cream. Also be careful when spreading. Smooth out the top to finish.
8. Put the cake in the fridge to set. Half a day or preferably overnight
|My cake base shrunk a little after baking, so the chocolate mouse spilled over the edges a bit|
This is also what I meant when the mousse will come up on the face of the strawberry if you use
a bit to help stabilize it
Adapted from No Special Effects
120 g heavy (whipping) cream
150 g water
180 g granulated sugar
65g Dutch-processed cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
6 g gelatin granules
30 g water
1. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, 150g water, and granulated sugar very well and bring to a boil over high heat
2. Whisk in all the cocoa and return to a boil. Take off the heat. Rap the bottom of the container on the counter to remove large bubbles.
3. Using a spatula, slowly stir the chocolate mixture in circles to coax the bubbles out
4. Cool the glacage to 43°C this will take a very long time, you can probably go out for a stroll or prepare this part first before everything.
5. Sprinkle the gelatin over the 30 g of water in a small bowl and leave to absorb all the water.
6. Once the glacage is cool enough, microwave the gel on LOW for a few seconds until it dissolves
7. Stir the melted gelatin into the glacage gently but thoroughly-- it should have no problem as both mixtures are warm (if the glacage has completely cooled, gently heat it back up to 30C).
8. Cool the glacage to 24°C
Instant-read thermometer on the side. All bakers should have one
9. Once it's sufficiently cool, pour it through a fine-meshed sieve placed close to the surface of the cake until the whole top is covered. Tilted the cake slightly to help the glacage run and spread. If there are bubbles, rap the cake on the counter slightly.
10. Place in the refrigerator to set.
11. When peeling the collars off, use a wet, sharp knife to cut the glacage that's sticking away from the collars.
|The glaze doesn't set solid like jelly would|
It may leave imprints of where you tried to place things when deciding on
how to decorate the damn cake
But it will generally re-incorporate back into itself with no permanent damage
|That tall strawberry does not belong there|
On top: meringue log, strawberries, gooseberries, Pocky sticks, mint leaves
|Clean wet knife will probably not drag the glacage down and ruining the look of the cut|
I felt I didn't have enough white chocolate mousse, but really, in the end, there was sufficient height to the cake and the flavours are balanced. But if you want the layers to balance out a bit, you can decrease the chocolate amount by half and increase the white chocolate to double, and spilt the cream anglaise and whipped cream to 1/3 (or 1/4) each to the chocolate, and 2/3 (or 3/4) each to the white chocolate.
The cake held up very well during the 1.5 hour drive out of town, though we kept it in a cooler bag but with no ice packs. This mousse recipe is pretty resilient. And as one of my friends had commented that it is quite smooth and fluffy. He usually makes mousse with yolks and whites and says they end up dense.
No birthday song was sung, we just ate the cake. It was cut one strawberry width a slice (don't try to cut in between as you'll destroy the unserved portions of the cake) and it served about a dozen people. A few fought for seconds that were about 3-4 slices in size. I had to save 2 slices for my parents before it all went away.
I've been asked about my "bakery" again. Lately, people keep badgering me about opening up a shop -_-u