Any time people have asked me things like “So if I need to travel with _____ for _____ number of hours/days…” I immediately cut them off and say “I don’t recommend that.” I am very adamant that my products be served at their optimal-life state, either ten minuted out of the oven or two hours from being decorated. While a lot of bad pastry comes from mediocre recipes, some from poor technique, many suffer from irresponsible storage or age (see Macaron rant when I post it).
My first food job was at a café that specialized in fresh-baked scones. The concept was brilliant — the scones were baked in small batches all day long. The likelyhood of anyone buying a scone baked more then 2 hours earlier was extremely low, unless it was a very, very slow day. And while this commitment to freshness caused some issues (different flavours sold at different rates on different days so being out of one or two flavours out of eight was likely, but a fresh batch was never more then 30 minutes away for the patient), it meant the product was always at it’s optimal state. This is why I am now so picky about when I finish and then deliver cakes.
And yet I am going against everything I believe in right now.
The espresso-filled Lego-shaped cake in the trunk was finished at 8am this morning. It is now 7:42pm (it’s in a portable fridge, don’t worry). It will be served two days from now (say whaaaat?). Le sigh.
This cake is made with the following:
A chocolate meringue disk —
Meringue, which I can only spell because I have to say Mer-rang-guay in my head, as with So-Crates and Jel-la-pen-o (and we all know I so often have to write Socrates and Jalapeno in the snail-mail I compose), is equal parts sugar and eggwhites. It can be made three ways – cooking whipped whites with sugar at 120 degrees (I-tal-ien style), whisked over a pot of simmering water until thick and fluffy (the Swiss way, which I like to think of as the Difficult way, because the Swiss were always difficult and “neutral”), and by just whipping the whites with the sugar, the efficient French way.
To make this chocolate meringue, you make a French meringue, add 1/4 of the meringue’s total weight in Icing sugar (ie. 50g i.sugar to 200g meringue when 100g whites and 100g sugar are used), whip for at least 5 minutes, then fold in the same quantity of sifted cocoa powder.
Now, here is the point where I explain why this came out weird. I have a gas stove with no fan. Yes, the meringues came out quite flat. And they took 3.5 hours instead of 2 (at 200 degrees instead of 187, wtf). BUT they are pretty awesome.
Dip said meringue in chocolate. More awesome.
Migoya’s Flourless Chocolate Cake – pg.152
225g 64% Chocolate
150g Egg Whites
Prep a pan with parchment, sheet pan or springform. Heat oven to 350. Whip yolks and 1/2 sugar to ribbon stage while melting butter and chocolate over a bain marie. Combine once chocolate is melted but not hot. Whip whites and remaining sugar to just before stiff and fold into chocolate mix carefully. Spread evenly in pan with offset. Bake until firm.
This I made to the same thickness as the meringues, which means my montage should be good. This recipe is wonderful.
This is really just a Bavaroise. And instead of using espresso beans, I used ground espresso for the look and the mouth feel. I have a very crippling coffee addiction, so the idea of eating the grinds excites rather then hinders me.
This is a cake with no photo, but Migoya’s instructions say to place a silicone block inside the cake mould, then build the cake upside-down so the result is to have a recessed space for those chocolate-coated puffed rice he is so into. As I did not have said rice puffs, I opted to make 12 salted ganache demi-spheres, which I froze, then lined up on the frozen barvaroise before spraying the cake with a chocolate-loaded paint-sprayer.
But that’s okay, I made it for my big brother’s birthday, the guy who gave me 10kilos of lego when he moved out. Happiest 5 year old ever. Given his coffee addiction and love of chocolate, this seemed like the perfect birthday present.
Here is my spray-station.
Thankfully, I’m the girl who moves into an apartment with a giant roll of window-plastic for winter and never puts it up but also never gets rid of it. I knew that roll of plastic was going to come in handy eventually.
Here is the part of the cupboard I didn’t protect. Lesson: make a good spray-station!
When you spray your cake with chocolate, always use equal quantities chocolate to cocoa butter. The cocoa butter has a higher melting temperature, but it liquifies the chocolate and allows it to set as soon as it hits the frozen cake, which is how the texture is achieved. I had to lower the temp to 34 degrees rather then the more common 38 because my freezer is not awesome, so the cakes are never as cold as they would be in a quality commercial freezer. If the chocolate is too hot, it will not texture, just wash over the cake and look liquid and shitty. It’s happened to me before. Don’t let it happen to you.
This is the Wagner spray-gun I use. Oooo, ahhh.
Regrets: In the future I will be very careful about placing demi-spheres, as I did manage to disturb the barvaroise even though it was frozen. I should have heated an offset and smoothed the surface. Also, I have this tendency to, due to strain from over-use and arthritis from immune deficiency, release things spontaneously. Like drop a bag of groceries in the street. My hands sometimes just let go. And, as you can see in the upper portion of the cake, I dropped the spray gun ON THE CAKE. Silly me didn’t make extra ganache orbs. I hate how imperfect this cake is. I want a remake. I can’t look at this anymore.
But I did sneak this montage photo, which I will post later.
Ohohohwait! This was tasty! Again, not sweet. The only adjustment I would make would be to add maybe 50g oil to the melted chocolate the meringue is dipped in, because we found it umpossible to cut with a fork, and that isn’t acceptable.