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Saturday, January 19, 2013

pierre hermé's carrément chocolat.

I knew it. I knew that I couldn't hold it in any longer. I made a cake with 6 components. And I loved every single moment of the laborious time-consuming process. Why do I have such weird interests I do not for the life of me know.

But this cake, this cake!, or should I say cakes, are worth every single minute of the 2 days I spent making them. What really struck me was how every single component uses the same type of chocolate in differing applications and amounts. What you get is a cake with a singular cohesive taste but varying textures. Interesting huh.

The bottommost layer, the chocolate cake, is dense and fudgy and rich, like a brownie. The following layer, a chocolate cream, is smooth and creamy. Next up is a chocolate mousse that is lighter and airier. Then the glaze, which has a somewhat sticky quality to it (the glaze is a two-part process). Lastly, the tempered chocolate decoration on top to provide a crisp crunchy contrast. I even added caramelized rice krispies in between the chocolate cream and chocolate mousse layers for crunch but they softened. I guess its to be expected. They did leave behind a nice caramel taste that complemented all that chocolate though.

The glaze gave me a bit of trouble because it seized up and then separated when I added the chocolate sauce. Maybe it's because of the differing temperatures of the two components. In the end, the glaze was too thick even though it was at the right temperature and couldn't coat the cakes evenly and smoothly.

Although there are many components to make, you will realize that they are not that hard. Majority of your time spent will go towards the chilling so don't be daunted by the length of this recipe! The sense of accomplishment is worth it. Oh and of course the eating.

Carrément Chocolat
adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme
makes an 8 inch square cake

For the chocolate cake:
4 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter, diced
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 170C. Butter and flour an 8 inch pan that is 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches deep.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and add the pieces of butter. Stir in the sugar, eggs and sifted flour, mixing to incorporate each ingredient after adding before adding the next.

Pour the batter into the prepared mold and bake for 20 minutes. The cake should look underdone. Unmold the cake on a rack and let cool. Clean, rinse and dry the mold then wrap it in plastic wrap. Place the cooled cake at the bottom of the mold.

For the smooth chocolate cream:
2 1/2 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
7 tbsp whole milk
7 tbsp heavy cream
2 1/2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a saucepan. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar. Whisk the milk and cream mixture into the egg yolks gradually then pour the mixture back into the saucepan and set over gentle heat until it reaches 185F or 85C. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the chopped chocolate, stirring well. Repeat twice more, stirring after each addition, then process the mixture with a handheld immersion blender. Pour cream over cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then place in freezer for 1 hour.

For the chocolate mousse:
6 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup whole milk
1 egg yolk
4 egg whites
4 tsp sugar

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat. Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan and pour milk over chocolate in the bowl, beating until the chocolate is smooth. Add the egg yolk and incorporate well. Beat the egg whites until stiff with a dash of the sugar, then, as the mixture begins to stiffen, add the remaining sugar. Incorporate 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture then carefully fold in the remaining beaten egg whites. Pour the chocolate mousse over the smooth chocolate cream in the mold. Smooth the surface with a spatula. Freeze for 2 hours.

For the thin chocolate sheet:
3 1/2 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature until the chocolate thickens, then reheat it slightly for a few seconds over the pot until it reaches a temperature between 88F and 90F. Pour chocolate over a sheet of acetate and spread it out. Before it can set, cut out a square the same size as the cake. Place another acetate sheet on top and add a weight to prevent the chocolate from warping as it dries. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the chocolate sauce:
1 1/2 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
6 1/2 tbsp water
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp heavy cream

Place the chopped chocolate in a small saucepan and bring the a boil with the water, sugar and cream. Stir continuously until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spatula.

For the chocolate glaze:
3 1/2 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup chocolate sauce, recipe above

In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil then remove from heat. Gradually beat in the chopped chocolate, beating it from the centre outward. Set aside to cool to 140F before adding the butter, then add the 1/2 cup of chocolate sauce.

For assembly:

Remove the cake from the mold and discard the plastic wrap. Using a small ladle, pour the chocolate glaze (it should be warm, between 95F and 105F) around the sides of the cake, then over the centre. Using a cake spatula, even coat the sides and edges. Leave to set for a few minutes then transfer it to a cake plate. Remove the acetate from the thin chocolate sheet, and place it on the cake. Set the cake in the refrigerator to defrost for 2 hours before eating. Cut with a knife dipped in hot water for 30 seconds for a clean cut.