The inspiration for this delectable baby is obviously the month of ‘Love’ and the giddiness that comes with the upcoming Valentine’s day … and what’s Valentine’s day if it did not involve chocolate and red fruit, eh? I have often wondered if I had the talent and fortitude to pull off something like this, but I lacked the courage to find out. However, this year, after many many hours of pondering and running things thru my head, I finally decided I was ready for an attempt.
The concept was simple ~ I just dreamed it all up. I wanted it to have that Parisienne look about it; meaning, to look like all those delicate little cakes and pastries one finds in quaint patisseries all over the famous city. Am aware, however, that I am no Pierre Herme, so I had the good sense to scale my expectations accordingly. What it is in a nutshell, is a raspberry mousse dessert that sits upon a slice of sponge cake (be it chocolate or vanilla), and enrobed in a bittersweet chocolate ganache. At presentation, the whole thing is given a dusting of cocoa powder and garnished with chocolate dipped strawberries and chocolate crisps. You can glam it up however much you want.
I wouldn’t call this a recipe per se, coz it is essentially an assembly line of various components coming together to create this single dessert piece. The important thing is to get the recipe for each component right … then the rest is pretty straight forward. The three components are :
a) Raspberry mousse
b) Sponge cake
c) Chocolate glaze
Prepare components (a) and (b) ahead of time, possibly a day in advance. You can prep the chocolate glaze just before use. Be aware that this dessert will take you 2 days from start to finish so plan and organize your time accordingly.
We’ll begin with the mousse. I am using a recipe by TheFrugalChef.com coz it’s easy and it turned out really well for me. Her instructions were very clear and easy to follow too. So if you are a pastry beginner like me, I’d go with this recipe … or if you are all thumbs in the kitchen you can simply use a store-bought product … just be sure it’s of nice quality coz the majority of this dessert is the mousse itself. Make one batch of this mousse and chill it thoroughly overnight in a lidded container.
Moving on we make a basic sponge cake, be it chocolate or vanilla. Again, you don’t have to here, since you can always use your favourite sponge pre-mix from a box. Once baked, you’ll need to let it cool completely to room temperature before you cut out rounds to fit your mould. I used a domed cake mould but you can use mini pudding basins or dariole moulds. The cakes need to be thin so don’t bake them in a regular cake tin, rather, spread the batter into a lined swiss roll pan or shallow cookie pan with sides.
Spray the insides of your moulds with cooking spray or wipe them down with vegetable shortening (very important step!). Now spoon or pipe the mousse into the moulds until about three quarters full. Rap the moulds onto your work surface to settle the mixture and to release any trapped air pockets.
Now for the cake bit. Cut out rounds that fit the top of the moulds ~ you can use a round cookie cutter of corresponding size to the mould. Brush each sponge round with raspberry jam and smoosh them onto the raspberry mousse. Give it a little jiggle to ensure a tight fit and that the cake adheres to the surface of the mousse. Place everything into the freezer until it is frozen solid; a minimum of 2 hours.
Make the chocolate glaze in a heat-proof pouring jug, like a Pyrex measuring cup. Place the sugar, cocoa powder, glycerin and cream into the jug and heat in a microwave using 30-second bursts until everything is melted. Alternatively, use a small non-stick pot over low heat on the stove. Remove and add the chopped up chocolate pieces and place back in the microwave for another 30 secs. Leave on the counter top to allow the residual heat to melt all the chocolate pieces before stirring. Meanwhile, bloom one-and-a-half sheets of gelatine in cold water for 5 mins.
Once all the chocolate pieces have melted give it a good stir and make sure there are no lumps left. Stir in the bloomed gelatine sheets and stir again. Now leave this chocolate mixture on the counter top to cool even further and thicken slightly before pouring over the raspberry cakes. Release the cakes from the moulds by dipping the bottoms in hot water for 20 secs. Then flip the moulds and bang them pretty forcefully onto the counter. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 – 10 minutes before pouring the chocolate over the top. If the cakes are too cold, the chocolate will solidify instantly and won’t trickle down to cover the cakes properly.
Place the cakes onto a wire rack with a plate or pan underneath to catch the excess chocolate. Now gently pour the chocolate glaze over and allow it to drip down and cover the entire cake. Not sure if you can use chocolate candy melts in lieu of this chocolate glaze, but you can experiment if you like. The good thing about candy melts is that you just buy a bag and chuck it in the microwave for a few seconds and it’s ready for use.
Return the cakes to the fridge until you need them again at dessert. Plate up and garnish with strawberries or raspberries; use chocolate curls or scroll a message … personalize this cake as you see fit. And with that, I am done. One Valentine’s day recipe in the bag. Yay!
Chocolate Glaze :
- 200 g bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa solids)
- 100 mls cream
- 1 tsp glycerin
- 80 g powdered sugar
- 1½ sheets gelatine
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
I hope you enjoyed this recipe and will be making this for your special other come Valentine’s day. It looks really fancy, like the stuff you get in overly-expensive restaurants, yet it uses very simple ingredients of which you can get at your local supermarket for a fraction of the price. With this, I wish you all a happy Valentine’s day and I hope to squeeze in a couple more Valentine’s day ideas before February 14th comes around.