Recipe: the concorde chocolate meringue mousse cake
In this house, Jeremy is the romantic and I am the unromantic. That doesn’t mean I’m boring – I recognize romantic things, I just find them superfluous. Jeremy isn’t a hardcore romantic, but he does give me the moony eyes from time to time and likes to go out for candlelit dinners, hold hands, sip champagne together under the stars, and cuddle under a snuggy blanket while watching a good old sci fi/fantasy/action-adventure movie. I don’t equate love with romance, but I do equate (good) food with love. When I make food, when I share food, when I gift food – it’s all a form of love. So I’m sharing some love with you this week.
this is love
this is your brain on love
I’ve teamed up with my good friend, Ellen of Helliemae’s Caramels, to do a little Valentine’s Day giveaway for use real butter readers. No one is paying anyone. We are doing this just for fun. Ellen is donating the caramel goodness and I’m wrangling the random number generator (a.k.a. Kaweah) who is coming out of retirement JUST FOR YOU. Why? Because… love! Should you be one of the winners, you can select one of the following packages:
Plain Jane: includes a jar of caramel sauce and a bag of Caramelo tinies. The caramel sauce is unsalted, dark, and slightly bitter. I love using it for baking projects or fancy desserts. The Caramelos are the smoothest, creamiest, butteriest bites of intensely rich and delightfully chewy unsalted caramels you will ever put in your mouth. They’re so good, I just popped one in my pie hole!
Adventure: for the more daring individual, includes a jar of Chili Palmer caramel sauce and a bag of Passion Fruit caramel tinies. Chili Palmer is like getting kicked in the shins and passionately kissed at the same time. You are eloping with a frisky salted burnt caramel sauce loaded with spice (from the chili and cinnamon), heat (from the chili), butter, and sweetness. This stuff is ridiculous on ice cream. Don’t just try it on vanilla, it’s great on chocolate, absolutely sinful on my key lime pie ice cream, and pretty darn swoon-inducing straight off the spoon. What better partner to the sassy Chili Palmer caramel sauce than the exotic and seductive Passion Fruit caramel tinies? We are talking about a burst of tropical tartness playing off the buttery smooth caramel with hints of vanilla. A seasonal item (only around Valentine’s Day) worth every luscious calorie.
1) Share the food you most associate with love in the comments below.
2) One comment per person, please.
3) Comment must be received before 11:59 pm (MST), Thursday, February 6, 2014.
4) The prizes can only ship in the US.
5) Kaweah will select two winners.
6) Winners will be announced and contacted on Friday, February 7, 2014.
And now something sweet for everyone whether you win the giveaway or not! Two years ago, I purchased Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, written by Dori Greenspan. It sat on my shelf collecting dog ears, but I never got around to making anything out of that gorgeous book until recently. This cake is so luxurious it even has a name that begins with “The”, like The Edge, except this is called The Concorde and it is a cake made entirely of chocolate meringue and chocolate mousse.
trace three 8 1/2-inch circles on parchment paper
flip the papers over so the tracing is face down on the baking sheets
fit two pastry bags with a 1/2-inch plain piping tip and a 1/4-inch plain piping tip
Get all of your equipment ready for the meringue because you don’t want it to deflate while you’re futzing around with drawing circles and such. I couldn’t find anything in my house that measured 8 1/2 inches in diameter for tracing, so I used an 8-inch removable base from a 9-inch tart pan. Worked just fine and gave me a little leeway in the meringue volume too.
chocolate meringue: dutch-process cocoa powder, egg whites, sugar, confectioner’s sugar
sift the confectionere’s sugar and cocoa powder together
whip the whites and granulated sugar to glossy stiff peaks
One thing that is critical for both the meringue and the mousse is that you don’t over beat the egg whites. The progression for whipping egg whites goes a little like this: gloppy egg white goo, bubbly clear goo, frothy, foamy and white, soft peaks (blobbish), firm peaks (holds a shape, but the tip might succumb to gravity), stiff peaks (holds a shape and is smooth, shiny), over beaten (dry, chunky, breaks apart). Over beating the whites will result in an inferior product, so avoid that mistake if you can. I over beat the whites for the mousse and it changed the texture (see later).
add some cocoa and powdered sugar
fold the dry mixture quickly, but gently into the egg whites
pipe the disks
and several lines
The meringue bakes for a couple of hours and then cools for at least another couple of hours. Don’t start on the mousse until the meringues are completely cooled. It’s possible to break this up into two separate days (up to a week apart) if you can store the meringue in a cool, dry location or wrapped in the freezer. The mousse should be made right before it is needed.
mousse: egg whites, egg yolks, chocolate, butter, sugar
chop the chocolate
add melted (and cooled) chocolate to the whipped butter
Everything was on a good roll until I began beating the egg whites. It went from soft peaks to slightly over beaten before I realized it and the whites were a little dry looking. I beat in the egg yolks which seemed to smooth it out, but had a sinking feeling that the over beaten whites would rear their ugly head. As I folded the eggs into the chocolate, the texture went from silky to thick and dull. I knew this wasn’t the texture of mousse, but when I tasted it, it was smooth and creamy, melting right away. So I forged ahead.
whipped whites with yolks
folding the whipped egg mixture with the butter and chocolate mixture
the cooled meringue
slicing the logs with a serrated knife
Cake assembly was pretty straightforward and forgiving. Set one meringue disk flat-side-down on a cake board, spread some mousse over it, layer the second disk, layer more mousse, and top with the third disk flat-side-up. Then frost the whole thing with the remaining mousse. I think my messed up mousse gave me less volume than I would have had if the mousse had turned out properly. But it worked, and in the end it’s okay if everything gets lightly smooshed together.
spread mousse on the meringue disk
At this point, the cake gets frozen for a couple of hours, presumably to firm it up. Then it is removed and warmed with a hair dryer to soften the outside layer so the logs will stick better. I didn’t bother freezing mine because my mousse was rather firm (more like a ganache than a mousse). So I skipped the freezing and hair dryer steps and went straight to pressing the little logs of meringue all over my cake. Except I didn’t have enough to cover the whole cake, so I opted for just the top. It looked fine.
i can’t resist adding some fruit
The final cake was a resounding success despite my having screwed up the mousse. The recipe puts the finished cake in the freezer for one day to help tenderize the meringue. We tasted it both the day of and the day after (and the day after that) and I have to agree that the texture is much better after a day in the freezer (or refrigerator). This rich, light, not overly sweet (which I love), creamy- and crunchy-textured cake is special and worth the effort. It’s flourless and yet I find it to be a million times better than the typical “flourless” chocolate cakes. The mousse melts in your mouth while the meringue dissolves satisfyingly on the tongue. And even though I love Jeremy dearly, I would not let him finish the entire cake – so we shared half of it with our awesome neighbors. They really enjoyed it too!
not only is it delicious, it makes for a pretty presentation
all of the wonderful layers
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, by Dori Greenspan
1 cup (100 g) confectioner’s sugar
3 tbsps Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 large egg whites (133 g), room temperature
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
8 3/4 oz. (250 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 3/4 oz. (250 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 large egg whites (200 g), room temperature
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks, room temperature and lightly beaten
Prepare your equipment: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8 1/2-inch circles with a pencil on one sheet of parchment paper. Turn it over on the baking sheet so the lead is face down and will not touch the food. Draw one 8 1/2-inch circle on the other sheet of parchment paper and turn it face down on the baking sheet. Make sure you can see the outlines from the other side of the parchment because you will be using these as guides for your meringue layers. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch tip. Fit a smaller pastry bag with a plain 1/4-inch tip.
Make the meringue: Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder together into a medium bowl. Whip the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form (holds shape, but the peak will droop when held upright). Add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar while still whipping until the whites turn glossy and hold firm peaks (this took me less than 30 seconds, so watch closely). Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Gently fold the cocoa mixture into the egg whites with a large spatula. Don’t freak out if the whites deflate – they will do that – but work quickly.
Spoon 2/3 of the meringue mixture into the large pastry bag. Pipe from the center of each circle outline on parchment paper in a tight outward spiral, making sure each ring touches the previous ring and that the whole layer is no more than 1/3-inch (1 cm) in height. Fill the small pastry bag with the rest of the meringue and pipe as many long strips as possible on the parchment paper with the single disk. Lightly even the disks with a metal spatula to fill any holes or level the top. Bake the meringues for 1 1/2 to 2 hours with a wooden spoon handle in the oven door (to keep it ajar). Rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back 2-3 times during baking. They should be firm, but not colored. Turn off the oven and let dry for 2 hours to overnight with the door closed. Let cool on parchment on cooling racks. The meringues can be made up to 1 week ahead if stored in a cool, dry place (if you live in a dry place) or wrapped up tight and frozen.
Make the mousse: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, a water bath (don’t let the bowl touch the water), or in a microwave oven on half power for 30 seconds at a time (stirring in between each 30 second interval). You want the chocolate just melted, not burned. Cool the chocolate to 114°F. Beat the butter with a whisk attachment on high until it is smooth (about 3 minutes). Add the chocolate in thirds, beating until blended. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Clean and dry the bowl and whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and whip until the whites are glossy. The recipe says firm peaks, but I think it’s best to keep the whites soft. While the mixer is still running, pour the yolks into the egg whites and whip another 30 seconds. Stir 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate with a spatula. Fold the remaining egg mixture into the chocolate. This should be ready right before assembly.
Assemble the cake: Using a serrated knife, cut the long strips of meringue into 1/2-inch long logs. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfect or if you have a lot of crumbs – you will use it all. Set aside. Place a daub of mousse in the center of the flat part of a meringue disk and secure the disk to a cake board. Spread 1/3 of the mousse over the meringue disk. Set a second disk over the mousse and gently press it down until it is level. Spread another 1/3 of the mousse of the second disk. Turn the third disk over so that the flat bottom is facing up and place it on top of the mousse. Gently press the disk down into the mousse until it is level. Frost the cake with the rest of the mousse, covering the top and sides completely. The recipe instructs us to freeze the cake for 2 hours and then use a hair dryer to warm the sides and press the meringue logs and bits on the sides and top of the cake. I didn’t bother freezing and placed the logs on the cake. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and freeze for a day before serving at room temperature (it makes for a more tender meringue). Serves 8.
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