Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chocolate and Fruit Mousse Cake

I'm back! It has been a little less than a month since the last time I posted on the blog but I had a good reason...I went to Italy on a cooking vacation. The cooking took place during my first week in a tiny village called Carunchio located in the mountains of the Abruzzo region. Every day we would go on food related field trips, such as to an olive oil factory, salami factory, cheese factory, etc. We would also have daily cooking lessons where we learned to make local dishes and were taught by a great Italian chef named Dino. The experience was amazing, both because of the food and the fact that I got to spend a week surrounded by other foodies just like me.

Since my return I have to admit that I haven't been in the kitchen too much lately. It's not because I got tired of cooking (that day will never come) but rather because the weather has been so great. When it's hot outside I feel like the last thing I want to do is fire up the stove or the oven. However last week it was my favorite aunt's birthday and I had to head into the kitchen to make her a fabulous cake.

My aunt is a big lover of mousse cakes and I really wanted to challenge myself by making not just any mousse cake, but a layered one at that. Since my success with my own birthday cake back in March, a triple chocolate mousse cake, I have only made mousse once more when I made little neapolitan mousse cups. I remember back then struggling to find a good recipe for strawberry mousse. This time I did some research and created my own recipe to be used with raspberries and mango. I also decided to take the cake a step further and create a raspberry gelee for the top.

After working on the cake for three days I think my efforts truly paid off. Unfortunately none of the pictures I took do it justice but everyone was stunned by how gorgeous it looked with the bright layers. Not only did it look good but it tasted great too! I think the most successful component was the raspberry gelee; the concentrated flavor was somewhat tart and balanced the sweetness of the mousse well. It also brought out the raspberry flavor in the subsequent mousse layer.

Traditionally mousse cakes are layered with sponge cakes but because everyone in my family loves flourless chocolate cake I used that for the bottom layer. Looking back, I probably should have made a chocolate sponge because the flourless chocolate cake, although delicious, did not quite blend and match with the mousse layers. Also, the mango layer got a little lost between the strong flavors of the chocolate and raspberry. Despite these minor issues, I am very proud of how the cake turned out and I believe everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

Chocolate and Fruit Mousse Cake
Note: I used the same recipe, substituting fruits, for both mousse layers. Therefore I will post the basic recipe and it can be adapted to any fruit. This cake involves many layers and each needs time to cool and set, therefore I recommend breaking down the recipe into stages and doing each layer separately with ample time in between.

For the mousse:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 envelope (1 tbsp) powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup water (1/4 room temperature and 1/4 boiling)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
For the gelee:
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 envelope (1 tbsp) powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup water (1/4 room temperature and 1/4 boiling)
  1. Bake the bottom flourless chocolate layer as per the instructions from the triple chocolate mousse cake. Allow to cool completely.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the fruit and sugar for the mousse. Heat until the fruit starts to break down. 
  3. Using a food processor or blender, puree the fruit until as liquid as possible. Pour through a fine mesh sieve to remove any chunks.
  4. In a small bowl combine the powdered gelatin with 1/4 cup water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then add 1/4 cup boiling water. Stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes or until all of the gelatin crystals dissolve.
  5. Add the gelatin to the fruit puree and mix well to incorporate. Put the mixture into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until it is no longer hot and is quite cool.
  6. Meanwhile, beat the cream on medium speed until it starts to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 30-60 seconds.
  7. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cooled fruit mixture to lighten it. Make sure the fruit is actually cool, otherwise the mousse will separate. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.
  8. Spread the mousse evenly on top of the flourless chocolate cake and place the pan into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow it to set somewhat before spreading the next mousse layer.
  9. To make the gelee, follow the same instructions as with the mousse, but add only half of the gelatin water to the fruit. Pour the cooled fruit mixture on top of the second mousse layer once it has set and leave in the refrigerator for at least eight hours to set.

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