August 31, 2009

(Naughty) Chocolate Mousse Cake


The book from which I pilfered the recipe is call BIG FLAVORS, by Jim Fobel. Every single thing I have made from this book has be fabulous, and this cake really was no exception.

I never really have much occasion to bake a cake like this. When I do, it means that Jay (the husband) has to eat cake for a week. I don't think he minds that much, though. Since it was my month to choose the cOven recipe, I took the opportunity to impose on all a recipe that's off the charts, above and beyond, decadent. Unfortunately, the only special occasion I had to take it to was a camping trip. So I quartered it up, stuffed it into several tupperware containers, and threw it into a cooler. It was one camper's birthday that week, so to the trip he brought his left over birthday cake; other campers surprised him with another birthday cake; and then there was mine. We were pretty caked out, but no one was complaining.

I made the cake over 3 days. I would highly recommend allowing the filled cake to chill overnight. It allows the flavors to really meld together. I realized as the glaze started cooling quickly on top of the chilled cake that I've actually never glazed a cake before. So of course, I made the rookie mistake of working too slowly. The glaze thickened and hardened on top, and I had to make extra glaze to finish off the sides. More chocolate! O the horror!

Next time, I think I would make the primary glaze out of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Other than that, I'm happy.

Naughty Chocolate Mousse Cake
from Jim Fobel's Big Flavors
yields 12 servings


8 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 T unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
¼ t salt
½ c sugar divided
1 t vanilla extract
2 T all-purpose flour

1 ½ c heavy cream
2 T sugar
⅛ t salt
12 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 T unsalted butter, sliced
2 egg yolks
2 t vanilla extract

½ c seedless raspberry preserves
2 t brandy or rum

Milk Chocolate Glaze
¼ c milk, scalded
8 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Dark Chocolate Glaze (optional)
2 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 T hot water

Fresh raspberries and whipped cream


1. Make the cake layers. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or waxed paper; grease the paper.

2. Combine the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over (not touching) barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove the top of the pan and let cool slightly, until just slightly warm, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large, deep bowl, combine the 4 egg whites with the salt. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually beat in ¼ c of the sugar and beat until almost stiff. Reserve; do not rinse beaters.

4. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks with the remaining ¼ c sugar. Beat with the same beaters at high speed until thickened and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla; beat in the melted chocolate mixture. Quickly stir in about 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to lighten. Sift the 2 T flour over the top and fold in gently. Fold in the remaining beaten egg whites.

5. Divide the batter between the 2 pans, spreading it quickly but evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; when the surface is touched lightly it will spring back when done. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.

6. Run a knife around the edges of each cake layer to loosen from the pans. Invert a plate or cardboard round over each and turn out the layers, tapping firmly, if necessary, to free. Peel off the paper and set aside to cool completely. If a layer should break, do not worry, the pieces can be put together and the filling will hold them in place. (The layers can be made well in advance; wrap tightly and freeze.)

7. Make the filling. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and salt over low heat. Bring to a simmer and keep warm.

8. Put the chocolate in a food processor and finely grind. Add the butter, egg yolks, and vanilla and pulse to blend. Add the hot cream mixture and blend until smooth. Turn out into a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Chill the filling, stirring occasionally, until firmed up and thickened but not set, about 1 hour.

9. Beat the filling with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy, 20 to 30 seconds.

10. Assemble the cake. In a small bowl, stir together the raspberry preserves and brandy or rum. Place 1 cake layer upside down on a serving plate. Spread the top with half of the raspberry glaze. Turn all of the chocolate filling onto the cake and spread into an even layer. Spread the remaining raspberry glaze over the bottom of the second layer. Invert the later over the chocolate filling. Hold a spatula vertically, even the filling all around the edge. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and chill until set, 1-2 hours, or as long as over night.

11. Make the milk chocolate glaze. Combine the milk and milk chocolate in the top of a double boiler and place over barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.

12. Remove the plastic wrap from the cake. Spread all of the warm milk chocolate glaze over the top and let it run down the sides, smoothing with a spatula to coat and chill until set.

13. Make the dark chocolate glaze. Combine the semisweet chocolate with 2 T hot water in the top of a double boiler. Let stand until the chocolate melts and then stir until smooth. Turn the chocolate into a small plastic zip-lock bag or make a small, parchment paper cone and fill with the chocolate. Snip a 1/16–inch hole at one corner of the plastic bag or at the tip of the cone. Beginning in the center of the cake, decorate the top with a tight spiral design. Make small chocolate dots all around the outer edge and one in the center. Chill until set.

14. To serve, cut into 12 wedges and lift off slices with a spatula. If desired, decorate each with fresh raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
I hosted a housewarming "fiesta" last week so it proved to be the perfect occasion to try the chocolate goodness cake. To keep with the "fiesta" theme I used Mexican chocolate and added some cinnamon and cayenne pepper once it was melted. I should have added more because you could barely taste it. The cake turned out smaller than I thought it would. I like higher cakes, so if I did this again I would probably double it to have four layers as opposed to two. I also baked the cake a couple of hours before the party. I actually liked the cake better then next day since the raseberry filling had time to seep into the cake layers. As you can see from the photo, people were not shy in grabbing a piece!

Chocolatey-ganachy-goo (or delicious chocolate cake)

I decided I would make and share this cake for a momentous occasion - the season 3 premiere of Mad Men! Some friends took care of the dinner, I handled dessert. As it was hot that weekend, and my apartment is sans conditioned air, I talked my landlord into letting me use his fancy-pants convection/conventional oven. This was nice, as I was able to avoid the usual fear that coincides with using my flame-throwing gas oven. The batter went together nicely and baked up well. I waited another day or so before making the filling and frosting, and the cake layers held up great. I, too, had some mess in the frosting of it, but am a fan of a hand-made gateau cake anyway, so I decided to just go with it!
As usual, I had a few substitutions due to preference/ingredients on hand:
_Cognac instead of rum mixed with the raspberry jam (it's my baking/cooking liquor of choice)
_Jam had seeds in it because I couldn't find any without. No one seemed to mind.
_I mixed bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate in all parts of the cake.
_There was no milk chocolate & dark chocolate frostings... Just the dark chocolate made into a ganache and loaded onto the cake.

It was so rich. I found that fresh whipped cream helped to cut the richness of the chocolate. The raspberries also helped add a nice fresh burst to the bites. Such a sinful treat!

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake:
There are few things I have consumed that are better than the Chocolate Mousse Cake – but not many. That said, I’ve come to two conclusions:

1. This cake is an expression of love. Its the kind of cake one would bake for someone if they truly loved them.
2. Twilight’s Bella undoubtedly would have stayed human had she tasted this cake before Breaking Dawn.

It took me three days to finish the cake. I would recommend adding a fourth day and using Day 1 to shop for the ingredients, sit down with a glass of wine to read the instructions, and plan Days 2 – 4. The most important thing to keep in mind is to allow enough time. The rest is straightforward and the instructions are manageable. If the instructions are followed with some care, one will have an incredible cake worthy of any special occasion.
My notes on this cake include:

  • A funny little crust will form on the cakes when they bake. Put your freak-flag away – this is normal.
  • Be sure to remove both cakes from the pans when they are finished baking. I removed one at a time and spread the mousse on the bottom layer. When I removed the second layer, it broke and it was not so easy to hide this blemish.
  • I used chocolate chips for the chocolate and they were just fine.
  • I would not change a single ingredient. I loved every single flavor in this cake. All the flavors complemented each other to produce one very grown-up cake.
  • The cake is very rich – serve small slices.
  • Fresh raspberries are a nice addition and help to lighten the intense richness.
  • Serve with champagne or coffee.
  • You will be regarded as a super-hero if you show up with this cake.

August 30, 2009

"In which Sarah and Eric find themselves woefully underprepared for making a cake" or "More adventures with Eric and eggs"

Looking at this recipe, we quickly realized that we are not adequately equipped for making something so fancy-pants as a chocolate mousse cake. We are bread and cookie people. Perhaps strange considering chocolate cake would definitely be on my death-row-last-meal-menu. We've gotten very used to it being just the two of us, so we don't tend to have extra kitchen/food items on the chance that we'll one day have to make something or that we'll have loads of guests. We don't have condiments in our fridge (neither of us like them) and we only keep around kitchen utensils that we use regularly. So when looking over this recipe, we realized that 1. Neither of us had ever made a cake from scratch and 2. We were lacking many of the necessary tools for making said cake. So we now own cake pans and the rest we were able to compensate for with a little creativity. You can live without a double boiler and a sifter. Even all our wax paper was at my work where it had been used for a carpet-ice skating activity with preschoolers. A greased and floured pan though, works every time.

I called Lovely Lady Baker before starting this recipe for a bit of a pep talk and her main advice was to not let the flour-less cake overcook. I'm glad she told me as much. The cake itself was fairly straightforward but cooked in less time then indicated in the recipe. The rest of the components were also fairly straightforward, there were just so many steps! With chilling required between each major component, it took two days for us to finish this cake. Yikes! I was so tired of chocolate, butter, and eggs that we ended up skipping the dark chocolate glaze at the end. Due to Eric's aversion to raspberries, we substituted strawberry preserves with fresh strawberries in between the layers and around the edges. Other than that, though, we followed the recipe pretty exactly.

The cake itself turned out to be a crowd pleaser. We took it to a party, and I feel a little bad when all of the other desserts were ignored. It was super rich, but served cold and in small servings was delicious. The tartness of the late-season strawberries cut some of the sweetness of the chocolate and the texture of the flour-less cake went perfectly with the silky mousse. I'm not sure if we will make this again anytime soon based on how long it took, but if you're looking for a special cake for a chocolate-lover, I'd definitely recommend this one.

After Lovely Lady Baker's picture of her perfectly glazed and decorated cake, I wanted to show our messy version. I love a little mess though. That bit of wayward chocolate is just begging to be scooped up with your finger.