Rainy day celebration

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Well, it is safe to say that fall is officially here. We have pulled out the winter clothes from our closets and the rain has been around just to make sure we do not forget that its time has come. Even though the transition from sunny to gloomy days can be sombering, I truly appreciate each season and all it brings (including in-season produce). We have been absorbed in harvesting the fall-goodies but in the past week it was all overshadowed by one special day. 

These days we celebrated my husband's birthday. Even though he is not too fond of anything with sugar (a blessing, I say!), I decided to try to make something new especially for him. He loves chocolate cream and fruit in desserts, so I started looking for something that combines the two, and ended up with a chocolate-citrus combination.

I also took up the task of making the dreaded macaron. This delicate French dessert is notorious for the number of times you need to fold the meringue when preparing it. You can easily go too far, but also come up short. For me, cooking is also a lot about learning, so I persisted. Third time was the charm.

So he had a fruity-chocolatey cake for birthday as well as the sight of me happily dancing around after the macarons came out of the oven perfectly crunchy, perfectly soft, and feet-ful. We both had a reason to celebrate, you might say.
Depending on how kitchen-experienced you are, the cake itself might look quite elaborate. In truth, it really is not. Essentially, all you need to make is one chocolate-based biscuit and three cremes.


For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (preferably aged overnight in the fridge)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr finely ground almonds

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam and slowly add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (do not overbeat it!). Sift together suger and almonds, and add them to the meringue.. Give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully (the whole process should not take more than 50 strokes). Fill a plain tip pastry bag with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment paper or silicone mat. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to140 C.
When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.

Vanilla Buttercream

100 gr sugar
60 gr egg whites

170 gr unsalted butter, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeded

Place the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, until the mixture feels hot to touch, about 3-5 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved. 
Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 6 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add slowly add the butter, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean to the buttercream and fold with a spatula until fully incorporated.

Lemon Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Biscuit

140 grams egg yolks
120 grams sugar
140 grams egg whites
25 grams sugar
45 grams cocoa powder
75 grams flour
45 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Whip the egg yolks and the sugar to a thick ribbon. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until almost fully whipped. Sprinkle in the sugar and whip until firm peaks form. Add about fourth of the meringue to the egg yolk base. Sift the dry ingredients into this base and fold gently. Fold in the remainder of the meringue.Add the melted and cooled butter and fold. Bake at 190C for about 10 minutes.

Lemon Syrup

50 grams water
50 grams sugar
juice of one lemon

Cook the sugar and water together until sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup cool and then add the juice.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

5 grams powder gelatin
40 grams granulated sugar
10 grams glucose
15 grams water
50 grams egg yolks
175 grams dark chocolate, chopped
250 grams heavy cream
Soften the gelatin in cold water (preferably using a larger bowl). Beat the egg yolks for about 5 minutes until very light in color. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes.Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.

In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 30 grams of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir 100 grams of whipped cream to temper. Add the pate a bombe. Add in the rest of the whipped cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Lemon Cream

215 grams eggs
75 grams sugar
215 grams lemon juice
Zest of 3 lemons
300 grams butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, juice and zest. Place this bowl over a double boiler and cook while whisking until the custard thickens. Immediately, strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Let the custard cool (it will be warm to the touch but not too hot that when we add the butter, it will melt right away). Once the custard has cooled, start adding the butter and blend the cream with a mixer. 

Milk Chocolate Chantilly

250 grams heavy cream
90 grams milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Boil the cream and pour over the milk chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Let this ganache rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then whip it as whipped cream.

Build the cake
I made this using the cake frame with removable sides. Make the chocolate mousse right when you are ready to start building the cake. Soak the biscuit with the lemon syrup. Spread the chocolate mousse evenly on top of the biscuit. Let this harden in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
In the meantime, make the lemon cream. When the chocolate mousse has hardened, spread the lemon cream evenly on top of it. Freeze the cake overnight.
This is when you remove the sides of the pan. Cut the cake when it is semi frozen. Pipe the milk chocolate chantilly over the lemon cream and decorate.

Hope you are staying warm.

Happy birthday, love.

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