Sunday 10 March 2013

Recipe: Mothers Day Cake! (Technique / Experiment)

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

Last night I thought I'd surprise me mum and make her a cake, kind of last minute idea that occurred to me when a friend asked me for a recipe. I had a mooch around the kitchen to see what I had available - it was after all about 8 o'clock already. Eggs, sugar, some dark chocolate, cocoa powder, nuts, flour, corn flour . . . .  things were shaping up!! Quick look in the freezer and I found half a piping bag of paté choux - result!! Got me thinking, croque en bouche??? Not chocolaty enough, and a lot of critical timing sugar work, it's already 8.30PM (As I write it's 2PM the following day!) and the chocolate filling is setting in the freezer in a piping bag. Having got together a bunch of bits I start  with no real plan to speak of . . . . .

5.30PM - This is what's now setting in the fridge for later : ) 


and here's how I made it . . . . .
(I'll update with more photos later)

ingredients (makes 24cm tart)
for the chocolate biscuit base (makes 210g - all used)

135g  choc digestives (pulse blend - fine)
50g  butter salted (melted, clarified)
15g  icing sugar (or caster sugar for more crunch!)
25g  cocoa powder

for the choux buns (makes 35 x 1.5cm - 17-20 required for 24cm tart)
150g  plain flour
125ml  water
125ml  milk
1 tsp  caster sugar
100g  butter
4  eggs (~220g)

(makes 40 3cm choux ~ 16g each - 25 per domestic tray G4/25m)
(makes 80 1.5cm choux ~ 8g each - 35 per domestic tray G5/15m) 
for the praline (makes 110g  - I swear I didn't eat any! ahem - 20g used)
50g  pecan nuts
100g  sugar
a little water

for the chocolate sauce (makes 500g)
150g  milk chocolate
150g  dark chocolate
300ml  stock syrup (50/50 water sugar)

for the chocolate crème pâtissière (makes 900g - what you find in a custard slice)
6  egg yolks
125g  caster sugar
40g  corn flour
500ml  milk
1  vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla paste)
75g  dark chocolate (broken into small pieces - 50% cocoa is fine)
(to fill 1.5cm choux buns 12g - 14g crème pâtissière)
for the crème Chibouste

chocolate crème pâtissière
italian meringue

(didn't have time to make this)

for the 'creme pour le filling' (winging it at this point - it's a nod to crème Chibouste)

280g crème pâtissière
250ml double cream
2 sheets gelatine

for the salted caramel (will update soon!)

we make our own at ferdiesfoodlab but was in a bit of a rush last night
you can buy it ready made from the folk who make condensed milk
150g caramel
a touch of salt

apparatus / equipment
24cm loose bottomed flan tin

spice mill / blender
heavy based pan
cream gun / whipper (not essential)
temp probe

methods . . .
chocolate biscuit base

Blend biscuits w/ all ingredients except butter in food processor to make the chocolate powder. Mix this with the clarified butter until a smooth paste is formed.
To clarify the butter (that is to remove the water and milk solids): Slice the butter up into chunks so it melts with less heating. Once all the butter is completely liquid a white scum will form on the surface. Hold the pan at 45 degrees and skim this off. Then pour the clear clarified butter off (in this case into the chocolate powder) leaving the opaque white liquid (which is to be disposed of) in the pan.

choux buns (180C / 15-20m) 
Melt butter and water in a pan bring to a rolling boil then add the flour and mix in
heat until mixture comes away from the pan. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Keep mixing until mixture is smooth and glossy and slightly sticky. Use a couple of tea spoons to lay on to a baking sheet. (or put into a piping bag and pipe onto baking tray)

You can freeze this without any ill effects.

praline (170C)

Roast the pecans in an oven at 180C for 6-8 mins, no more than that or they will become bitter. 
Pour enough water into the pot to cover it by about 3mm. Pour the sugar into the centre of the pot and let it soak up the water, give it a little jiggle, until all dry sugar soaked up. 
Keep the sugar away from the sides, use a brush with water, to brush any excess sugar away. Turn on the heat and let it start bubbling. Boil until it's turned a caramel colour. BE CAREFUL! When it starts to caramelise it will do so quite quickly, so keep an eye on it. 
Once it's turned a nice caramel colour - around 170C - take it off the heat, mix in the pecans so they're all coated and pour the mix out onto a silpat. (or a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper)
Once the mixture has cooled it will be hard and brittle, break it up into smaller pieces and turn it into a coarse powder with a food processor or spice mill. It's ready to dust the cake or dress plate etc etc . . 

chocolate sauce
If your chocolate is in bars break it into chunks ready to add to the syrup.
To make a stock syrup simply mix water and sugar and heat until a smooth syrup is formed.
For a denser syrup double the amount of sugar.
Once the syrup is ready add the chocolate and take off the heat, stir until the sauce is completely smooth.
I happened to have some black olive ganache so I replaced a third of my chocolate with that.
No reason not to use orange, or chilli chocolate for example to make the sauce.

chocolate crème pâtissière
This is the same as crème anglaise (custard) but when it's set it's thicker. To make
crème anglaise use exactly the same method just leave out the flour.
Whisk the egg yolks and a third of the sugar until the mix is lighter in colour and texture and forms light ribbons then whisk in the flour.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate, to the milk. Dissolve, and bring to the boil.
Whilst stirring the egg yolk mix add the milk slowly, mixing it in as you do. Then return the smooth mix back into the pan.
On a medium heat cook the mix stirring continuously until it has thickened and the flour has cooked out. (i.e. there is no remaining grainy texture due to the flour)
Add the chocolate, and mix until smooth! (See TIPS)

creme pour le filling! This bit's experimental . . .
Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 mins
Warm the cream up enough so the gelatine dissolves easily ~70C.
Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add it to the cream, stirring it in until it's dissolved.
Pour the mix into a cream whipper, and add one canister of gas.
Cool the cream by running the canister (the one I use has metal - conductive - canister) under cold water.
Shake well and add a third to the creme pat, folding it in.
Repeat twice more with the rest of the cream.
Pour the mix into a piping back and put in the freezer to set a little - 45-60mins
(makes rather good ice-cream!!)

thinking ahead

My advice is, should have made it last night!!!

what could go wrong? (har de har, whoar har har . . .  list is endless)

chocolate crème pâtissière
TIP 1: Adding the milk to the eggs (as opposed to adding the eggs to the boiling milk) stops the eggs cooking instantly and turning into threads / omelette = bad!

TIP 2:
When stirring use a flat ended spatula to 'reverse paint' the bottom of the pan. Constantly removing the mix from the bottom of the pan like this means it cooks evenly and again minimises your chance of getting threads. (applies especially to creme anglaise)

TIP 3: One last thing that will stop you making omelette instead of custard is to keep the temperature below 80C through out the process!

Line the loose bottom baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Put the warm base mix (210g) in middle and spread it out to the rim forming an even layer.
Drop a good spoonful of caramel onto the base mix and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt!
Put a third of the creme pat into a small disposable piping bag, and cut the end off leaving a tiny hole. (2-3mm approx)
Fill the choux buns with the gorgeous choccy creme pat and place around the edge of the base.
Take filling mix from the freezer and pipe it into the centre. Then dust with praline.
Coat the choux buns with chocolate sauce and chill. Then let everything set for a couple of hours.

to serve
Walk into the room with a broad smile of general delight taking the tart directly to the recipient! In this case my mum!

Happy Mothers day Mum!!

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