Monday, June 27, 2011

Chocolate cake with mango mousse and espresso jelly.

I adore entremet cakes (Breaking news). Layers and layers of goodness, fancy-ness and happiness in between layers and layers of cake. Cakes that take a good part of a day to bake and assemble. Maybe more. Cakes that invite oohs-and-aahs or several comments on Facebook. However, when they flop, they flop with a vengeance.

The following cake, for instance, DID not look like this in the first attempt. Oh, no. Baking has its fair share of failures. Scroll down and check out Exhibit A if you don't believe me.

And also, when I said that banana breads and smoothies were blank templates to build on, I made a huge flaw. I left chocolate cake out of the list.

Chocolate cake is essentially like toast. The number of things you can do to it and with is overwhelming. You can use it to make a cake for kids (and adults who don't give a toss about trans-fats) with loads of Oreos and cream cheese or go all uber-sophisticated by making a Strawberry Sachertorte.

So when a friend's (one of those kinds who alternatively threaten and plead you for fancy food) birthday rolled around, I thought I'd go down the posher route and conjure up something, the likes of which you can't find at any average pastry shop.

I envisioned layers of chocolate cake sandwiched with mousse of some sort and drenched in ganache. And since it was June, aka the month of Mangoes, here at Madras, I had the flavour of the mousse. Searching aimlessly for recipes, I came across one for a triple-layer mousse-trifle-y thing and fell for it in a heartbeat.

And then disaster struck. It is hard to make anything at Madras, sometimes, I swear to God. First, you have to deal with the lack of ingredients and Cuisinart appliances. Next, the power cuts! Just when the mousse was all done and ready to be jellified in the refrigerator, the lights (along with all things electrical) went off dramatically. Terrified that it'll make a sloppy mess in the recesses of a refrigerator rapidly losing its cool, I shoved it into the freezer and went to sleep. Four hours later, I had a frozen block of cake/mousse/jello... and this friend does not even like ice-cream.

While thawing, the mousse layers instead of being creamy, became icicle-y and watery at the same time. The coffee flavour in the cake wasn't enough. It was one unmitigated disaster after another. The birthday girl gamely said it was yummy, though... I pity her taste buds.

DO NOT FREEZE CAKE. Do NOT freeze cake.
The idea, however, was too good for me to accept defeat. I reworked the proportions, cooking and setting techniques and tried again. And am I glad.

The resultant was a rich coffee-chocolate layer of cake with a creamy mango mousse, all of it topped off with an espresso jelly. Oh, yes. Thank you, Desserts for Breakfast. You've introduced something special to my life... and now I can continue to let people think I come up with all these awesome ideas with my unilaterally medical brain. Yes. Victory is (eventually) mine.

Chocolate cake with Mango Mousse and Espresso Jelly:

For the chocolate cake:

1/2 a batch of Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake

For the coffee syrup:

60 grams  granulated sugar
120 ml black coffee

For the mango mousse:

5 tspn gelatin powder
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 kg mango puree
200 grams sugar
460 ml whipping cream

For the espresso jelly:

2 cups milk
Instant espresso/coffee powder-as much as you want
5 tbsp sugar
Agar-agar, as per packet instructions (OR) Gelatin powder-4 tsps + 1/4 cup cold water


For the cake:

Layer the bottom of your serving tray/cups with cooled pieces of cake.

Pour the prepared coffee syrup liberally over the entire cake.

For the coffee syrup:

Stir the sugar into the prepared hot coffee until all of it dissolves. Let it cool down to room temperature, and use as necessary.

For the mango mousse:

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl. Keep aside.

Heat the mango puree over very low heat. Add in the sugar and stir until it dissolves. DO NOT let it boil.

Take it off the heat. Add in the gelatin and stir until well incorporated. Do not heat after you've added in the gelatin. Let the mango mix cool down to room temperature.

Fold in the whipped cream into the cooled mousse. Pour this mix over the coffee-soaked cake.

Keep it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours until the mousse has completely set.

For the espresso jelly:

Combine gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and keep aside.

In a saucepan, heat together the milk, sugar and coffee until the sugar dissolves. Take it off the heat. Stir in the gelatin or agar-agar. Let it cool down to room temperature.

Pour the jelly over the set-mango mousse.

Don't judge, but I ate the missing bits. Quality control, flavour combination
study and similar. You understand, right?

Refrigerate the whole thing for an hour or so. Take out when fully set.

Cut out little portions and serve with grated chocolate on top.

Eat, full of regret, that it didn't turn out this well the first time. Eat some more to ease away the pain.

You know I'm kidding, right (sort of)? I've almost never spoken as a qualified medical practitioner in this blog, so you can't sue me. 

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