The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.
Wow. This challenge….just wow...
Ridiculous, complicated, time consuming, utterly amazing.
When I first saw what the challenge for this month was, I almost fell out of my chair. I have never done something like this before, and I was immediately intimidated. I’m notorious for not being able to reproduce things like this. I’m a perfectionist, but when it comes down to it, I’m a simple girl. I just don’t have the talent to do fancy things like this. Normally when I try things like this I get frustrated that it isn’t turning out like I wanted it to, and I am not happy with the visual results. Oh sure, it might taste good, but it just never looks the way I want it to.
So you can see how this kind of freaked me out a bit.
I decided to do a kind of “turtled” entremet. We were allowed to choose any fillings we wanted, in fact, Astheroshe didn’t even give us any to choose from, she just let us go at it! I wanted to make my fillings simple, but still stretch my bounds a bit. I chose to do a dark chocolate mousse, a vanilla crème brulee, a pecan feuillete (basically crunchy stuff, haha), and a chocolate caramel ganache. I was really worried that my jaconde was going to be utterly horrible, but it actually turned out PERFECT! I had never made a homemade mousse before, and I really like how it turned out, although I think next time I won’t use 100% dark chocolate in it, as it sucked all the moisture from my mouth the second I tried it, haha. The pecan feuillete turned out great, too, except I forgot to account for the sponge cake walls when I cut it into shape, and I ended up breaking it. But once it was in the assembled cake, no one was the wiser (except, now, everyone knows…). The chocolate caramel ganache was great, too, (and, by the way, utterly delicious, I could have eaten it by the spoonful!!) except that I had to re-warm it to room temp in the microwave a bit in order for me to spread it over the cake.
Overall, I was really, actually really, pleased with how this turned out! And oh mama, it was phenomenal! Rich, insanely decadent, and definitely NOT on my weight watchers point scale. Don’t even ask how many points it was. But hey, that’s why they gave you weekly splurge points after all. I used them, and I am NOT ashamed of it! Everyone who tried this simply raved about it. In fact, my uncle-in-law (the same one who ate all my cassoulet) said that it was better than any food he ate on his cruise (which previously was the best food he has ever eaten). And my brother’s girlfriend, who bless her, is now insisting on making this for her father’s birthday this weekend, even after I told her it took me about 9 hours spread over two days to complete, and hounded my brother for 4 straight days before I finally printed off the recipe for her.
So, in short, this “fancy French cake” (explaining joconde and entremets was too complicated time and time again) was worth every single minute in preparation, and every single calorie in it.
Joconde Sponge ¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners' (icing) sugar ¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below 3 large eggs - about 5⅓ oz/ 150g 3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g 2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar 2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted
1.In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
2.Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
3.On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
4.Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
5.Fold in melted butter.
6.Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste (note: I halved this amount because I didn’t need this much for my pattern) YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan 14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened 1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar 7 large egg whites - about 7 oz / 200g 1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour Food coloring gel, paste or liquid
COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.
1.Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2.Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3.Fold in sifted flour.
4.Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:
1.Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
2.Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
3.Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
4.Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)
Preparing the MOLD for entremets:
You can use any type of mold. I used a springform pan with removable bottom.
1.Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:
1.1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
2.2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
1.3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.) Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
2.4. The mold is done, and ready to fill.
*Note:If not ready to use. Lay cake kept whole or already cut into strips, on a flat surface, wrap in parchment and several layers of cling wrap and freeze.
1.Cut out a circle of the leftover sponge cake, place it on the bottom of the springform pan, decoration out (that way you can see it if you flip your piece over)
2.Fill with dark chocolate mousse, about 1/3 of the way.
3.Place your first praline feuillete on top.
4.Add the crème brulee.
5.Add the second pecan feuillete.
6.Top off with the chocolate caramel ganache, trying to get the top as smooth a finish as you can.
7.Decorate the top with any leftover whipped cream (I used unsweetened since everything was so rich already) and candied pecans.
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn
Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1+1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in color (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. 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. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler (or one small saucepan in a larger one), heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the rest of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the whipped cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.
Chocolate Caramel Ganache
9 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (21/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1.Combine milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in medium bowl.
2.Stir sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and cinnamon stick in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.
3.Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 6 minutes (time will vary depending on size of pan).
4.Add cream and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously).
5.Bring caramel to boil, whisking until smooth and caramel bits dissolve, about 1 minute. Discard cinnamon stick.
6.Pour hot caramel over chocolate; stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
7.Let stand until completely cool, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
8.Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in chocolate mixture in 4 additions. Cover and refrigerate ganache overnight.
9.Bring the ganache back up to room temperature before you use it during the assembly. I did this by microwaving it in 5 second increments and stirring.
Preparation time: 10 mn
Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) rice krispies, corn flakes or Special K
1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.
4. Cut out in desired shape. Remember to allow room for the sponge cake walls, so cut smaller than the actual mold you are using.
Vanilla Crème Brulée
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.
2 tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Water
¼ cup pecan halves (pick out pretty ones)
1.Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2.Simmer 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want them to be golden and coated.
3.Remove the pecans with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on parchment paper.