Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chocolate Mousse Buttercake

Where is the "off" button for our brains?

Has anyone ever found that?

I need one.

I made this "OFF-switch" cake. A Homer-sized slice of this helps to slow things down. All I can think about is how creamy, velvety and delicious it is. But it's a bit of work that involves a reasonable dose of whisking, creaming, baking and waiting.

A button would be faster and more convenient. For now, this Chocolate Mousse Buttercake will more than suffice.

What we've got on the bottom is a soft biscuit-y base - somewhere between a biscuit and a butter cake. It is a thin layer that won't take long to bake, so keep an eye on it. Over-baked = dry = no thank you.

Gently perched on top is a smooth, thick & creamy yet airy shmear of classic chocolate mousse. Chocolate mousse is so wonderfully easy to make and a sure-fire winner with friends every time.

There's only 4 simple ingredients to it:

1. dark chocolate
2. eggs
3. whipped cream
4. sugar

First have your eggs separated. Then melt the chocolate gently in a double boiler - you really don't need an actual double boiler. My mamacita (mom) actually owned one and I can't recall a single time she ever used it! Just fill a medium saucepan with about 1 inch of water and bring it to a simmer. Place a metal bowl containing the chocolate on top of the pan and let the steam from the simmering water melt the chocolate in the bowl above it. This is indirect heat - it's gentle and it's insurance against burning your chocolate.

Once the chocolate is melted, set it aside to cool slightly before whisking in the yolks. You might notice that the chocolate will thicken up incredibly at this stage - don't worry. Add about one-third cup of whipped cream and whisk it in vigorously until smooth. This step is meant to loosen up the stiff chocolate mixture and make it easier to fold in the remaining ingredients.

Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream followed by whipped egg whites. A spoonful of sugar beaten into the whites helps stablize them - the more sugar you add, the more stable they will be but obviously the sweeter your mousse will be. So, decide who you want to be today - semisweet or bittersweet?

This chocolate mousse cake affects the synapses, the nerve strings, the signals en route to my brain to say "calm down".

So, hello cake! Goodbye thoughts.

This time last year I was baking... Chocolate Chilli Cookies
This time two years ago I was baking... Fennel Oregano & Onion Focaccia

Chocolate Mousse Buttercake
Makes about 9 large servings

For the base:
6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (100g) sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (20g) unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder 
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp (45ml) milk

For the mousse:
200g dark chocolate (60-65% cocoa solids)
2 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup 35% whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving about 2-inches of overhang at each side.

Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Sift flour, cocoa baking powder and salt into a small bowl and mix well. 

Fold dry ingredients into the butter mixture in two parts, alternating with the milk. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and bake until just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 10-14 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the mousse, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water and stir occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks and set aside.

Stir egg yolks into slightly cooled chocolate mixture. If the mixture stiffens up, you can fix it by whisking in some of the whipped cream vigorously until smooth. Fold the softly whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Combine egg whites and sugar in a small bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold this into the chocolate mixture and spread it evenly over the cooled cake base. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

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