As you might know, I sprained the back of my knee last week. It was hard to move around and I wasn’t in the mood for baking. The only thing I made all week were the lemon and olive oil madeleines that I gave away. That’s all. My brain was going a million miles an hour thinking about what I was going to make next but my body could not follow. So I waited a couple of days until I felt better and then the weekend came. Perfect timing.
The first morning cup of coffee tastes better on Saturday mornings for some reason. C. and I look forward to watching “At the movies with Ebert and Roeper”. Definitely my favorite show all week. I also know that on weekends, I will have another set of hands to help with “curly cues” because sometimes it is very hard to bake and especially photograph when you have a hungry little boy tugging at your leg. If this boy doesn’t turn out to be a cook, I’d be very surprised!
So I was really wanting to invest some time in the kitchen this weekend. I wanted to make something with lots of components, flavors and textures. The freezer was going to be my friend.
This cake is really not very complicated to make but it does require time. But let me tell you, it is well worth it. As C. said, the best dessert I have made in a long time. And if I may say, I agree with him. Creamy, crunchy, sweet, bitter, salty. All in one.
The filling is a thin slice of banana cake, a thin layer of salted caramel cream and salted peanut powder. I made the banana cake in my small rectangular loaf pans and then cut thin slices and out of those thin slices, I cut circles using a cookie cutter. Separately, I made a salted caramel cream. Poured this into a silicon mini muffin pan, topped it with salted peanut powder and placed the banana cake circle on top. The muffin pan goes in the freezer until it hardens. This will allows to place the filling inside the chocolate mousse in one block and keep a perfect shape. This is how you obtain perfectly straight lines inside the mousse.
I used a very simple chocolate mousse recipe that can be whipped up in 10 minutes. Literally. I lined my aluminum ring molds with parchment paper. The mousse is placed in a pastry bag and some of it piped into the mold. Then the frozen filling is inserted, some more mousse piped on top, another layer of filling and finished with some more chocolate mousse. The ring molds are then placed into the freezer so the mousse hardens completely and is easy to remove.
The cake is finished with baked chocolate meringue sticks. When I make baked meringue, I tend to bake different shapes because they make great cookies. I will be making some milk jam later on this week and will sandwich some of the chocolate meringue cookies with some creamy, super sweet milk jam. I can’t wait!
So here are all the recipes step by step. I wish I had another person working with me so they could take photographs while I bake and then I could post step by step photos. For now, it’s impossible. It would take me forever to do both.
150 grams organic egg whites
150 grams sugar
150 grams powdered sugar, sifted
25 grams good quality cocoa powder (I used Valrhona), sifted
Whip the egg whites until they are almost fully whipped. Slowly start adding the granulated sugar while the mixer is still running. Whip until we obtain a shiny, stiff meringue but make sure not to overwhip or it will dry out.
Sprinkle a third of the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder and fold with a spatula. Repeat until all the powdered sugar and cocoa powder have been folded in.
Place meringue into a pastry bag with number 4 pastry tip and pipe lines onto a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 200 degree oven for an hour. Let the meringues cool and then, store them in an airtight container until ready to use.
makes 3 small loaves
300 grams organic ripe bananas, pureed
250 grams sugar
3 organic eggs
200 grams sunflower oil
200 grams unbleached all purpose flour
4 grams sea salt
4 grams aluminum free baking soda
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and whisk until all the flour is incorporated. Divide the batter into 3 small loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees until done. Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake to test for doneness.
Let the cakes cool. Take one of the loaves, and cut into 2 mm slices. With a cookie cutter that is the same diameter that your mini muffin pan cavities, cut circles out of the banana cake slices. Set aside until ready to assemble.
Makes enough to fill a mini muffin pan that has 8 cavities
120 grams organic heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split
30 grams sugar
2 organic egg yolks
1/2 sheet of gelatin
1 tsp sea salt
Roasted and salted peanuts, powdered or finely chopped
Sprinkle the sugar on a small saucepan. Make a dark caramel with the sugar. Add the vanilla bean and the cream that we have previously warm up. The caramel will bubble up when we add the cream so make sure to be careful not to get burnt and whisk constantly.
Temper this mixture into the egg yolks. It will be so hot and the amounts we are working with are so small, that there is no need to return this mixture back to the heat. The temperature of the caramel will pasteurize the egg yolks.
Add the softened gelatin to the base and strain the whole thing through a fine sieve.
Pour this into the mini muffin pan. We want to have about 4 mm high of the cream. then we will sprinkle some powdered peanuts on top of the cream and we will place the slices of the banana cake on top. The whole thing goes in the freezer until we are ready to assemble the cake.
makes enough for 4 ring molds
150 grams 70% chocolate, melted
450 grams organic heavy cream, whipped to soft peak.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Remove from the heat. Add a third of the soft peak whipped cream to the chocolate while whisking. Work quickly so the chocolate doesn’t set too fast. Add the rest of the cream but this time fold using a spatula.
Now that we have the mousse made, we should assemble the cake. If we transfer the mousse to the refrigerator, it will harden too much and we will not be able to pipe it as smoothly into the ring molds. So have all your components ready to go. Mise en place people, mise en place!
Assemble the Cake
Cut parchment paper strips that will fit the inside of your ring molds and line the molds with the paper.
Place the rings on top of a sheetpan lined with parchment or a silicon mat.
Pipe some mousse inside each one of the molds. Insert the filling disks inside each mold. Top with a little bit more mousse, another disk of the filling and top with some more mousse.
Flatten the top of the mold eliminating any excess mousse. We want a flat and smooth top.
Place these in the freezer to set. When they are frozen, push the mousse out of the mold and place it on your plate or cake board. We are going to let them thaw out at this point so remember that once thawed out, they will be hard to move to another plate.
When they are softer, place the baked meringue sticks all around and top with broken pieces. Serve right away so the meringues don’t become too soggy.
This is what happens when you try to photograph cakes in the middle of the afternoon!!!