02 November 2008

Trio of Chocolate Mousse Cake

Les Trois Soeurs
Trio of Chocolate Mousse Cake (with title)
I've noticed that it's become kind of tense lately and I'm somewhat contributing to the problem, if you can call it that. Factor in my usual tendency to overshare (which has gotten me screwed before, dunno why I never learn), and you've got kind of nervous/icked-out readers. Sorry about that. The last two weeks have not been typical in the slightest. As proof of that, I just gained 3 pounds over my average in the span of a week. Damn you, chocolate!!

Actually, I'm glad I'm shaking it off because I was originally going to talk about sex based on my association of it with chocolate. Really dodged a bullet there! (Believe me, you don't want to hear me talking about that-- though I have one friend who says she gets the tingles when she hears me say the F-bomb.) Instead, I'm going to have Kylie sing about it in a very beautiful French-style music video for "Chocolate." Thanks, Kylie.

Trio of Chocolate Mousse Cake (slice)
Those of you who skip straight to the funnies in the papers probably know of the existence of the comic strip Cathy. It's quite a polarizing strip, in that it's kind of the chick flick of the comic strip world. Currently there seems to be a series of strips where Cathy makes the connection between tough times and eating.

Art imitating art; Liz Lemon plagiarizing Cathy.
While I don't necessarily have any cravings, I find that I have a (fatal) mouth-stomach disconnect wherein I compulsively eat food just because it's there, even if I'm not really hungry. Last night I told my dad I could barely eat and dragged my feet into the dining room, only to be stuffing myself later with leftover jambalaya, fried spring rolls, pancit (stir-fried noodles), peas, corn, and carrots, grape juice, and finishing it off with a huge sweet roll stuffed with cream cheese. I have no idea where that "hunger" came from, but at least I know what the hell to stop doing so I don't explode.

By the way, what would you consider proper comfort food? I hope to fall on the side of Irving someday-- yum, fresh apple.

My body seems to be telling me to slow down in other ways: I was working on raw chocolate for another dessert a few days ago and I ate the scraps so they wouldn't go to "waste." For some reason the caffeine, tyramine, or whatever food cooties reared their ugly heads and gave me a headache. I suppose I should be thankful for small favors. But really, the best way to avoid these pitfalls especially this holiday season is to plan ahead, make only as much as you need, and of course, share it with others!

Case in point: I made this scaled-down version of a cake (that originally serves 12, and too generously in my opinion) from famed New York patissier Francois Payard, and served it to Genie, Vany, and Genie's mom after they helped me in preparing for my exam. Not only does it look elegant in my opinion, but I was also quite impressed on how distinct the flavors of the chocolates are in each layer. Despite the long instructions, it's really not that hard to make when you have the ingredients all ready. Now all that needs to be done is to get rid of the three pounds...

Trio of Chocolate Mousse Cake adapted from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard
This is more accurately a bavarois cake. For this recipe you'll need a 6" cake ring 2.5" high, or a cake pan of the same dimensions, but it's easy to make it in a 9" cake ring, springform, or cake pan: simply double the quantities listed here. If using a cake ring, a strip of acetate at least 2.5" wide and at least 19" long is recommended to make a clean side. If you don't have acetate, just freeze the cake for longer and unmold when very firm. It will be difficult to add the cocoa mirror glaze if using a cake pan without destroying the pristine sides, but you can build the layers any order you want, and decorate some other way, such as with white/dark chocolate shavings or peaks of whipped cream.

Creme 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

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil. 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 whisking madly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon 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 little more than a minute). Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. You will need the creme anglaise to be hot enough to melt the chocolate in the next step, so work quickly.

Chocolate Mousses
  • 55g (1-3/4 oz) white chocolate, chopped

  • 55g (1-3/4 oz) milk chocolate, chopped

  • 63g (2 oz) 72% chocolate, chopped

  • 375g (1-1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream, chilled

  • and for each chocolate mousse:
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin

  • 15g (1 tablespoon) cold water

Prepare 3 medium bowls each containing one type of chocolate and 3 small cups, one for each type of chocolate. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for 2 minutes. Microwave on low power for 15 seconds, or until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Dump 1/4 cup (60g) of the hot creme anglaise over each type of chocolate and give each a gentle stir to melt the chocolate. Stir in the dissolved gelatin into each chocolate sauce and stir until well-combined. Set aside.

In a well-chilled bowl and using well-chilled beaters, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks, about 5 minutes. When not using the whipped cream, keep it in the fridge.

Line the sides of a 6" cake ring with acetate and place on a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the bottom of the ring on a rimless baking sheet or removable bottom of a tart pan. If using a cake pan, spray with vegetable cooking spray and line with a large piece of plastic wrap, pressing it against the sides.

Take a third of the whipped cream (125g) and fold it into the dark chocolate sauce until well-combined. Pour it into the center of the ring and give it a gentle bang to level the mousse. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until halfway firm. Take half of the remaining whipped cream (125g) and fold it into the milk chocolate sauce until well-combined. Pour it into the center of the firm dark chocolate mousse and give it a gentle bang to level the mousse. Return to the freezer for 20 more minutes. Fold the white chocolate sauce into the remaining whipped cream until well-combined. Pour it into the center of the firm milk chocolate mousse, taking care to leave a few mm space to pour in the cocoa glaze (eat the remaining white chocolate mousse if there is any as a treat). Leave in the freezer overnight, or until completely firm.

Cocoa Mirror Glaze
  • 60g (1/4 cup) whole milk or heavy cream

  • 75g (5 tablespoons) water

  • 90g (7 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon) granulated sugar

  • 33g (5 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona

  • 3g (1/2 packet) gelatin granules

  • 15g (1 tablespoons) water

Prepare the glaze according to the instructions for glacage here. You will have enough for two cakes. Pour the glaze into the remaining space of the cake ring and place in the freezer for 20 minutes, or until set.

To unmold the mousse, place a 6" cake board (you could just use a 6" circle of stiff cardboard coated with aluminum foil) under the dessert and ease the plastic wrap away. Push from the bottom to release the mousse from the ring. Peel away the acetate and place on a serving platter. If you've used a cake ring, simply invert it into a serving platter and peel away the plastic wrap. Let it thaw in the fridge for a few hours before serving. I decorated the top with melted white chocolate.

Variation: you can add another layer of cake at the bottom: simply bake one sheet of chocolate genoise and use the cake ring to punch out a 6" round of genoise and use it to line the bottom.

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