Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Concord

"The Concorde," by Pierre Hermé is a cake assembled with layers of cocoa meringue and chocolate mousse, whereas Dede Wilson's "Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake," has those two elements plus blueberry jam, whipped cream, and fresh blueberries. So, what I did is I combined these two recipes and made my revised version of "The Concorde." I took the cocoa meringue recipe of Pierre Hermé's cake and the mousse, whipped cream, blueberry jam, and fresh blueberries of Dede Wilson's cake.

Here, you can see the different layers(from bottom to top): cocoa meringue, raspberry jam(I love raspberries so used this instead of the blueberries), whipped cream, fresh blueberries, cocoa meringue, raspberry jam, whipped cream, fresh blueberries, and the last cocoa meringue-flat side up. Then, I covered the cake with the chocolate mousse, glued meringue logs to the sides and top of the cake, and sprinkled the remaining fresh blueberries. For the finishing touch, I sifted cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar. In no time, it was finished! 

I prefer sticking the meringue logs onto the cake vertically, rather than sideways, diagonal, and in all directions especially on the sides of this cake because I find it much easier to slice by keeping a nice, clean slice.

The previous cake was made last Saturday for a party and this cake was made the following day, again, for a party. I used the same recipes except for raspberry jam, I used blueberries. Baking all weekend, Monday, and Tuesday, all the work payed off. 

for the cocoa meringue
1 cup (100 grams) confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Pencil the outline of two 8 1/2-inch (22 cm) circles on one piece of parchment and the outline of one 8 1/2-inch (22 cm) circle on the other and turn the sheets of paper over. (If you can't see the outline of the circles clearly now that the paper is flipped over, darken the pencil lines.) Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) tip and a smaller bag with a 1/2-inch (7 mm) tip. 

Sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder together and keep close at hand.

In a clean, dry mixer bowl with a clean, dry whisk attachment in place, whip the egg whites on high speed until opaque and form soft peaks. Still whipping on high, add half of the granulated sugar and continue to beat until the whites are glossy and hold firm peaks. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually beat in the remaining sugar.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and, working with a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar and cocoa mixture. Work quickly and delicately, and don't be discouraged when your beautifully airy meringue somewhat deflates~it's inevitable.

Spoon two-thirds of the batter into the large pastry bag and begin piping the batter at the center of a traced circle. Work your way in a spiral to the penciled edge, trying to have each coil of batter touch the preceding coil. Pipe with light, consistent pressure and keep the disks thin-they shouldn't be more the 1/3-inch (1 cm) high. Pipe the remaining disks in the same manner. Fill the smaller pastry bag with the remaining batter and pipe as many long strips of meringue as you can on the baking sheet with the single disk. (You'll use the pieces of meringue strips to decorate the sides and top of the cake.)

If there are any spaces or uneven sections in the disks, give them a once-over-lightly with a metal spatula. Place the baking sheets in the oven and insert the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep it slightly ajar. Bake the disks for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom two or three times during the baking period. The meringues should be firm, but not colored. Turn off the oven and continue to dry the meringues for another 2 hours, for as long as overnight, with the door closed.

Transfer the meringues, parchment and all, to racks to cool to room temperature. Run a thin metal spatula under the disks and strips to loosen them from the paper. (The meringues can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept in a cool dry place, such as an airtight box.)    

for the raspberry jam
4 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to give off juice. Roughly mash the berries with a potato masher or a fork. 

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit softens and the juices thicken and begin to evaporate, 10-15 minutes. When you draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pot, it should leave a trail where you can see the pot. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in an airtight container for about 4 hours, until cold and spreadable. The jam may be refrigerated for up to 2 days. 

for the chocolate mousse
8 3/4 ounces (250 grams) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona Guanaja, finely chopped
2 sticks (1 cup) plus 1 1/2 tbsp (8 3/4 ounces; 250 grams) unsalted butter, at room      temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature, lightly beaten with a fork

Melt the chocolate over-not touching-simmering water or in a microwave oven, then allow it to cool until it feels warm to the touch, 114°F (45°C).It's important that the chocolate not be too hot when it's added to the butter because if it melts the butter, it will make the mousse heavy.

Working in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a hand-held mixer), beat the butter until it is very smooth. Add the cooled chocolate in three additions, beating until the mixture is well blended. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk.

In the clean, dry mixer bowl, with the whisk attachment in place, whip the egg whites on high speed until they hold soft peaks. With the mixer still on high, add the sugar and continue to whip until the whites hold firm, glossy peaks. Still beating, pour in the yolks and whip for another 30 seconds. The whites will be thinned by the yolks, that's just fine.

Working with a large flexible rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the egg mixer into the chocolate to lighten it. Then gently fold in the remaining egg mixture. The mousse, which may remind you of a lightly whipped butter cream rather than a traditional mousse, is now ready to be used, and should be used quickly.     

to finish
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided in half
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, to sprinkle
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, to sprinkle

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, whisk the whipping cream until soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks.  

Place the first meringue layer onto the cake stand, flat side down. Spread half of the jam on the meringue disk, followed by half of the whipped cream. Sprinkle 1/3 of the fresh blueberries on top of the cream. Repeat this process; meringue disk, jam, cream, and blueberries. Place the last meringue disk on the top on the cake, flat side up. (tip:choose the largest disk to be on the bottom of the cake and another disk with the flattest bottom to be on the top) Spread the top and sides on the cake with all of the chocolate mousse

Stick the meringue logs to the sides of the cake and drop them on the top-if you prefer the logs over blueberries. You can place the logs any way you want onto the mousse, but I find that attaching the logs vertically on the sides, looks more pretty and it's easier to slice. Finally, sift cocoa power and confectioners' sugar over the cake. 

Bon appétit!

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