“You’re going to love the January Daring Bakers Challenge.”.
That’s what Lis, the co-founder of The Daring Kitchen, said to me one day last December. I was tied up in cassoulet and confit, and a computer crash at the time, so the thought of baking anything was a welcome diversion, especially something I would love.
That being said, I’m very late in posting this; 4 days to be exact.
The freezer makes a great pause button.
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 Entremet dessert.
On reveal day, I think I squealed. An entremet! Plus, an entremet with a joconde and decor pattern paste (a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to a variety of desserts, formed and filled in a ring mold)!! Add a ‘La’ and joconde is the French name for the Mona Lisa. Umm, did she sponge off of people? Sorry, I had to…
Okay, let’s go back a little further. Once a year (I think), the Food Network televises the World Pastry Championship. I watch in awe as tall toque topped teams of pastry chefs, from many different countries, compete to hold this dubious distinction and honor. From the individual chocolates (bonbons and pralines) and plated desserts, to the sugar sculptures and chocolate showpieces, it’s all pretty mind-blowing. But, there’s one round that captivates me completely; the entremet.
A compilation of two of the three joconde imprimes I made. Obviously, number three (bottom right) was the only one salvageable, the ‘spoon handle’ boring one.
These pretty cakes of mousse, creme, genoise, feuilletines disks, dacqouise, et al, are unbelievably stunning. The flavors and fillings are always above and beyond any typical ingenuity, and I think I can safely say that they’re legitimate pieces of art. Edible art, indeed, but masterful art in all genres. The chefs delicately paint intricate chocolate details and fold fluffy cream into mousses with the tenderest touch, but at the same time, brandish industrial strength electric spray guns and blowtorches like burly construction workers, but with a little more flair.
I LOVE when pastry chefs find uses for the stuff you find at Home Depot or your local hardware store. Joe, with the dirt under his nails, and half arm tan, standing behind Pierre in his Burberry jacket with buffed nails, both purchasing a blowtorch.
While one pastry chef blasts bombes of mousse with industrial sprays of chocolate and cocoa butter, another pulls hot sugar into perfect, delicate flowers, gently placing them atop the shiniest caramel mirror you ever did see. This is heaven to me.
Salted Peanut Dacquoise
Now, could I make an entremet that comes even a little close to those? Probably not, since my kitchen isn’t equipped with any electric spray guns, and I’m not equipped with those kind of skills, but, I do have acetate and chocolate transfer sheets! It’s like playing grown-up when you’re a child; I was going to the land of make-believe to take on the role of a French pastry chef. Oui Oui!
Naturally, as you’ve all come to expect on this blog, a few things went wrong before I could start building my entremet.
SQUIRRELS ATE MY JOCONDE PASTE RIGHT OFF THE DANG SILPAT.
I’m dead serious. Really.
Let me explain. My freezer wasn’t freezing the design laden paste as hard as it needed to be, so, since we’ve been hammered with snow and freezing weather the past 2 weeks, I decided to cover the baking sheet with the paste and my hard-fought scraped out designs, and plant it on the snow outside.
An hour later I go to get it, and squirrels scatter, the top baking sheet covering pushed over and only a minuscule corner of chocolate paste swirl left. Oh, but they did leave their mark, in the form of tiny, chocolate, squirrel paw prints across the silpat. OKAY, I admit, I though about it for a nano-second, but only a nano-second.
Since when do squirrels like chocolate? Am I missing something here?
I really, really, really, REALLY wish I had designed my joconde to match the chocolate transfer design on the hearts. Simple loop-di-loop scribble scrabbles with the wood spoon handle, and the shoes would have matched the purse. But, after all the trouble with the joconde, I was just happy to get something out of it!
Surprisingly, I didn’t freak out, most probably because I had plenty of paste left over for another try. SO, again, I carefully and painstakingly scraped out several designs, getting creative using biscuit cutters, a potato masher etc..; really, really pretty designs, mind you, into the paste. This one had to work!
After seeing that everything was frozen solid on the second shelf of my freezer; which was really too small for the baking sheet, I jammed the baking sheet in (Yep, jammed. When a baking sheet doesn’t fit, you find a way). I ended up bending the corners of this particular sheet, but at this point, I didn’t care; I just wanted to get it done. I went on to make the sponge, praying for ease, and thankfully, no snafu’s, no caveats, no problem! I spread the sponge on top of the design laden paste, and into the oven it went. Everyone said the baking time in the recipe that was provided to us by our host, was way too long, as in crispy joconde edges, too long, as in..divide baking time in half too long. I obsessed and only baked it 6 minutes, not wanting to inch even a little close to burnt spots since this sponge is all about the aesthetics, right?
Well, the damn sponge tore when I gently pulled the silpat off. THUD.
I had just enough paste left to make one more, but I had to make the damn sponge again. I was NOT spending time on intricate designs this time – so, Lisa meet wood spoon handle, wood spoon handle, meet Lisa. Squiggle, squaggle, boring, ugly lines. Good enough.
If that one didn’t work, I might have actually given up on one of my most favorite challenges ever. It tore a little (I’ve come to the conclusion that I need new silpats, they’ve been used to the point of silicone revolt and retreat), but I had enough to line the mold. I had to piece together more than one strip, but it wasn’t too bad. Not my original vision, but, hey, it’s amazing how quickly things change when you have squirrels with refined palates.
Now that I’ve taken up almost a whole page with squirrel sabotage and other disasters, on to the good stuff. My original vision for my entremet was ‘exotic’ fruit, sort of leaning toward tropical. In fact, I even made some of the components for that first vision, but a peanut butter- milk chocolate theme struck like lightning and I couldn’t let it go. I kept recalling this amazing peanut butter and milk chocolate mousse parfait created by The Dessert Truck in NYC. Let’s just say, if you’re a fan of peanut butter, this is one of those desserts that haunt your senses forever once you’ve tried it.
Initially, I was going to add a fruit gelee insert and/or topping to add a peanut butter and jelly aspect to the entremet, but then decided peanut butter and chocolate PLUS fruit gelee would sort of distract the palate. I was feeling the contrast in texture, but not so much in flavor; I wanted pure peanut butter – chocolate goodness. A shiny chocolate mirror was my last minute, final entremet decision, after mulling for days and days over fruit or caramel (remember when Greg Brady didn’t choose Marcia or his girlfriend for head cheerleader?). Below are the components of my chocolate peanut butter entremet.
- Biscuit Joconde
- Milk Chocolate Ganache
- Salted Peanut Dacquoise
- Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Feuilletine
- Milk Chocolate Cremeux
- Cocoa Genoise
- Peanut Butter Mousse
- Shiny Chocolate Mirror
I was all over the place as far as the amount of ingredients for each entremet component went. I used base recipes, changed them around, and hoped it was the perfect amount without any leftovers. However, the genoise and chocolate cremeux (set with gelatin, which is not usually the norm, but it needed to be to carry the weight of the other components. It didn’t affect the texture in a negative way) did leave some leftovers, but is that really a bad thing? Cocoa genoise – chocolate cremeux parfaits!
Also, the peanut butter mousse is a little different in that the heavy cream is not whipped and folded in. However, it’s so light and creamy, you would never know it. As rich as this entremet sounds, it’s actually quite light and not too sweet. Wait, how could I forget the finale?
‘Asbestos hands’ handmade caramelized sugar corkscrews, salted ground peanutty brittle (Equal parts sugar and water cooked to a light caramel. Stir in ground salted peanuts and cook until the caramel is golden brown (the color in my photos). Spread on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and cut before it sets completely, or break apart when set), and tempered chocolate, which I poured and spread on a transfer sheet of gold scribbles, then cut out hearts, hearts because this baby was made with L-O-V-E . A dusting of cocoa, and voila, my first, complete entremet!
By the way, below, can you tell which are the challenge recipes and which are not? I’m metrically stunted; conversions make me cringe.
Milk Chocolate – Peanut Butter Entremet with Joconde Imprime
Makes one 8 – inch round entremet; joconde makes more
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
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
*Note: How to make cake flour
*Cut out a 6 to 7 – inch circle of extra joconde, to use as a base to this entremet, which I forgot to do, so my bottom is the dacqoise. Set aside, covered, or refrigerate, until ready to use.
Patterned Joconde-Decor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 12” x 17” (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.
Milk Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salted Peanut Dacquoise
– recipe by Nancy Olson via Food & Wine
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Feuilletine
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces good quality milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup paillete feuilletine (OR rice krispies, or corn flakes, or crushed sugar cones) Although I suggest corn flakes as an acceptable substitute for paillette feuilletine, the taste and texture are vastly different (they’re crushed french lace crepes called gavottes and are sweet with a caramel tone). I purchased mine online, HERE.
Milk Chocolate Cremeux
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin or two leaves gelatin *
2 tablespoons water
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup good quality milk chocolate, chopped and melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cocoa simple syrup (1/2 cup each sugar and water cooked until sugar is dissolved, 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder added and/or 1 tablespoon liqueur of your choice)
Peanut Butter Mousse
Inspired by the NYC Dessert Truck dudes
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin or about 2 1/2 leaves gelatin *
1/4 cup cold water
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup salted smooth peanut butter
Shiny Chocolate Mirror Glaze
4 oz sweetened condensed milk
6 oz semi-sweet or milk chocolate chocolate, chopped (I usually use 6 oz callebaut semi-sweet or milk chocolate calets)
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz water
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin or 4 leaves of gelatin *
1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
FOR THE JOCONDE SPONGE:
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. A whisk attachment is fine too, 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.
FOR THE JOCONDE PATTERN PASTE:
1.Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand 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.
FOR INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PATTERN (you can make any pattern you like. This is just one example.) AND BAKE THE JOCONDE, CLICK HERE.
FOR THE MILK CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
Place the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. In a saucepan, heat cream over medium high heat until it just starts to boil. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes, then stir until uniform. Let sit until it reaches a soft, spreadable consistency.
FOR THE SALTED PEANUT DACQUOISE:
Trace a 7-inch circle onto a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on a baking sheet. In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the confectioners’ sugar until they’re finely ground. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture and 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts. Spread the meringue on the parchment to fill the circle. Sprinkle the other 1/4 cup chopped peanuts on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and firm. Turn oven off, prop the door open with a wood spoon, and let dry in the oven for about an hour or two.
FOR THE MILK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FEUILLETINE:
In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, heat the peanut butter with the butter and milk chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and fold in pailette feuilletine. Spread the mixture on top of the salted peanut dacquoise. Transfer to the freezer and let cool completely.
FOR THE MILK CHOCOLATE CREMEUX:
Bring the milk and the heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and sugar; temper the yolks into the warm milk-cream mixture. Cook the custard, whisking constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon and registers 182 degrees on a thermometer. Add the melted chocolate and mix with an immersion blender. Stir in the melted gelatin and let cool until it thickens somewhat.
FOR THE COCOA GENOISE:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Place a heatproof mixing bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, combine the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly, until the mixture is lukewarm. Remove the bowl from the simmering water, and whip until cool. Fold in the dry ingredients, and then fold in the melted butter. Pour the batter onto a Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 6 minutes, or until done. Cut out one 6 to 7-inch round. Save the rest for other preparations, or just snack on it.
FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE:
In a bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the water and let stand for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, cook the cream over moderately high heat until it bubbles around the edge. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Gradually whisk the hot cream into the egg yolks. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter. Melt the gelatin for 15 seconds in the microwave, then stir into peanut butter mousse base. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly.
FOR THE SHINY CHOCOLATE MIRROR GLAZE:
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water. Let it stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan, then bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove saucepan from heat. Add condensed milk and cocoa powder, then whisk to combine. Add the bloomed gelatin and stir to melt.
Place chocolate in a bowl. Pour the above mixture over the chocolate and stir constantly until the chocolate is melted. Stir in corn syrup. Using an immersion blender, blend mixture until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
Let the glaze cool to a temperature of 91 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to use a candy thermometer to be exact. The warmer the glaze, the better, but do not exceed 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour glaze over entremet in springform pan, as you only want the glaze on top, not cover/enrobe the entremet.
1. Line an 8-inch cake ring or springform pan with acetate or parchment paper – make sure it’s at least 2-inches in height above the edge of cake ring or springform pan since the peanut butter mousse will spill over, if not. Line with strip of biscuit joconde, cut about 1-inch shorter in height than the top of the cake ring.
2.Place the circle of joconde biscuit at the bottom of the cake ring. Spread or pipe the biscuit with half the ganache then press the dacquoise disk on top of it. Spread the rest of the ganache on top of the dacqouise disk and gently press the feuilletine disk on top of it. Pour partially set chcolate cremeux on top then freeze for about an hour.
3. Remove entremet from freezer. Brush both sides of the cocoa genoise with cocoa simple syrup then press on top of the chocolate cremeux. Pour thickened peanut butter mousse on top of genoise. Freeze for another hour or two.
4. Remove entremet from freezer and pour the shiny chocolate mirror slowly over the top. Let set, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
*If using gelatin leaves instead of powdered gelatin (which I actually prefer), soak the leaves in cold water, then remove and squeeze dry when ready to add to recipe.
By the way, I just found out the Peanut Butter Exhibition is up and running again, so I couldn’t resist, and entered this entremet. Be sure to check it out and join up! Click the badge below to read about it and enter.
This entremet was definitely a challenge, but so enjoyable and well worth the awe appeal, taste and layers of deliciousness and texture. Surprise friends and/or family with one of these stunning works of art at your next holiday, birthday celebration, or dinner party! Au Revoir, until next time!