I have a friend who is amazingly pregnant – she’s about a month from her due date and at the point of just wanting to get it done. My first thought upon hearing this from her: “Baked goods fix everything.” I inquired what she would have me bake and she asked for a chocolate cake. The first thing that popped into my mind was my favorite cake, the spiced chocolate torte. Fearing that might be too rich, I looked through a couple of books and settled on chocolate mousse cake from French: The Secrets of Classical Cooking Made Easy.
Who on earth thought up baking mousse? The mousse in this cake is not simply filling, it is the cake bits of the cake as well. Really! I would never have dreamt doing anything to mouse except savoring it slowly in its chilled magnificence, but obviously someone decided to stick it in the oven.
In actuality, the cake part of this comes together much in the same way as a soufflé, and shares pretty much the same ingredients put together the same way. Makes me wonder about doing soufflés…..
Chocolate Mousse Cake
for the cake:
10oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 eggs, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp brandy or rum (optional)
for the ganache
1 c heavy cream
8oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp brandy or rum (optional)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter two 8-9″ springform pans and line the bases with buttered baking parchment. (I don’t have two springform pans of the same diameter, so I used my newly acquired baking pans. I would probably have been just fine if I had put the parchment on the bottom. One cake came out just fine, the other fell apart a bit.)
In a pan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks until completely blended. Beat in the brandy or rum, if using, and pour into a large bowl. Set aside, stirring occasionally.
In a clean bowl, using and electric mixer, beat the egg whites slowly until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed and continue beating until they form soft peaks, then stiffer peaks that just flop over a little at the top.
Stir a large spoonful of whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites until they are just combined (a few white streaks are fine).
Divide about two-thirds of the mousse between the two prepared pans, smoothing the tops evenly, and tap gently to release any air bubbles. Chill the remaining mousse.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until puffed; the cakes will fall slightly. (Even with this warning, I was rather startled to find that one of my cakes had decided it was a volcano. Luckily enough it did fall back into place, only leaving a few fissures.) Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the sides of the pans and leave them to cool completely. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pan bases and peel off the papers. Wash the cake tins.
To assemble the cake, place one layer flat-side down in one of the clean pans. Spread the remaining mousse over the surface, smoothing the top. Top with the second cake layer, flat-side up. Press down gently so the mousse is evenly distributed. Chill for 2-4hrs or overnight.
To make the ganache, bring the cream to a boil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate all at once, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the brandy or rum, if using, and beat in the softened butter. Set aside for about 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
Run a knife around the edge of the assembled cake to loosen it, then remove the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, over a baking tray. Pour the warm ganache over the cake all at once, tilting gently to help spread it evenly on all surfaces. Use a spatula to smooth the sides, then leave to set. (This is the time I put the Dove hearts around the edge, mostly to obscure any irregularities in the visual texture.)
As far as I know, the cake went over pretty well. My friend took one look at the cake and said, “That is ridiculous.” Yes, fabulously ridiculous, and that’s how it should be.
I am really excited for next week. I recently acquired a V-day chocolate bar mold, so I will be trying my hand at that. Because I only got one, though, I will also be making more of the heart chocolates I made last year because I don’t trust myself to keep the chocolate in temper for as long as it would take for the bars to set individually.
On top of that, I plan to make a really amazing tart I saw posted on BonAppetit’s Facebook wall a few days ago – something about chocolate and almonds and coffee beans and caramel. Sounds absolutely divine, which is as it should be for Valentine’s day.