Tuesday, May 18, 2010


My girlfriend’s birthday has come and gone. It’s one of the great ironies of our relationship that in the five years that we have been together, I’ve only made dessert for her a handful of times. So this year, I decided that I would actually make her a cake for once.

Inspired by Fransisco Migoya’s The Modern Café, I wanted to try my hand at another entremet. For those who don’t know, an entremet is a cake… sort of. It can really be made of anything, but it serves the same purpose. Commonly, an entremet will consist of layers of some sort of cake, and typically a mousse of some sort. The idea is to have flavors and textures that complement and contrast each other in one bite. It is like an entire dessert in cake form.

The first thing I did was to decide some flavors I wanted to pair together: Crème fraiche, chocolate, nuts. Chocolate is a great ingredient to use for entremet, because cocoa butter will help stabilize the chocolate components of the cake without having to add a ton of gelatin, which can ruin the texture. I chose to add the crème fraiche because, along with being incredibly delicious on its own, I think it is chocolate’s best friend, and the tanginess helps to cut the richness of the chocolate. The nuts I chose because they are just plain tasty.

What I came up with was a Milk Chocolate Chantilly Cake, Chocolate Jaconde—a thin almond sponge cake, Krispy Chocolate, and Crème Fraiche Crème Brulée.

Building it was relatively easy. I made all the individual components ahead of time, and had them stored in the freezer, ready to go. Assembly was nothing more than piping the mousse into the bottom (which became the top) and sides of the mold, and then stacking the pre-made rings of crème brulée, jaconde, and Krispy chocolate, making sure to add more mousse where needed. After all that was finished, it took another trip to the freezer to get rock hard.

After that came glazing. In retrospect, I think I need a new glaze recipe, because it is too viscous, even at the correct temperature. I ended up with lumps and streaks where it should have been completely smooth. That was ok though, because the chocolate décor covered most of it up.

The most stressful part of the whole process is thawing the cake. After glazing, the cake is pulled out of the freezer and left to thaw overnight. If there wasn’t enough gelatin in the mousse, or if it was over-whipped, or if the crème brulée layer was too soft, the whole thing could collapse in on itself and be just a big pile of stuff in the morning. Luckily the gods were with me, and it stayed stable.

I would call that a success!

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