The Passionate Kitchen Master

The Passionate Kitchen Master

I recently stumbled upon this episode of the Sporkful podcast “What kind of Kitchen are You?” and without hesitation, put myself in the “Passionate Kitchen Master” category. I mean, who spends two Friday evenings in a row trying to perfect a 4-part layered cake? On the other end of the spectrum, I consider myself a minimalist with plating and decorating. This hazelnut crunch bomb cake combines my two contradicting traits, but of all things tastes like a match in heaven.

Hazelnut Crunch Brulee Chocolate Mousse Cake

For the cake adapted from this recipe:Makes 1 8″ round cake.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
35g cocoa (original recipe calls for 75g/ 5 tablespoons)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup boiling water
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup canola, or other neutral oil

You really only need the bottom layer of one of the cakes for assembling this cake but I’d recommend making the full portion because this cake freezes really well for future uses.
  1. Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Butter and line 2 8″ cake pans.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir in the eggs, milk and oil until smooth. Add the boiling water and stir until incorporated. Divide evenly between the pans and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 35 mins.
  3. Take the cakes out of the oven and drop each onto a tabletop at around 5″ to allow heat to escape. Remove cake from the pans and let cool on a rack.

For the Hazelnut Feuilletine adapted from this recipe:

12g dark chocolate
5g butter
20g ground almond praline (original recipe calls for hazelnut praline, or simply use nutella)
20g hazelnut paste (I just whizzed up some toasted hazelnut and they were more mealy than pasty)
20g feuilletine
8g toasted hazelnuts, chopped finely

This is enough to make one single layer of crunch for an 8” cake but you can double the recipe to make more for decoration
  1. Melt the chocolate and butter over a bain marie. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until it forms a consistent paste.

For the caramel creme brulee gelee adapted from this recipe:

125g whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean
22g sugar
30g egg yolk (around 2)
2.5g/1 gelatin sheet

  1. Line a 7″ pan with parchment paper.
  2. Heat the cream and seeds from the vanilla pod in a small pot until just under the boil. Set aside but keep warm.
  3. Make a dry caramel by putting the sugar in a medium pot and heating until it melts. Cook until it is a dark amber colour. Turn off the heat and pour the warm cream mixture into the caramel, stirring constantly until smooth.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Still whisking, slowly pour in the caramel cream until completely incorporated.
  5. Soften the gelatin in cold water, squeeze out the excess and stir through the brûlée mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and freeze until set.

For the chocolate mousse adapted from this recipe:

65g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
238g cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks + 1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
2.5g / 1 sheet gelatin

Make the mousses only when you are ready to assemble the cake, since it will set and you cannot transfer it into another container.
  1. Melt the chocolates over gently simmering water, so that you don’t over-heat your chocolate (it gets grainy).  Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and put it aside until it’s time to combine everything. If you put it in the fridge, make sure to take it out around 20min before you combine the mousse.
  2. To make the sabayon, in a small saucepan add a tablespoon of water to dissolve the sugar.  Place the yolks and eggs in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. While the sugar cooks, beat the eggs on very high speed until it is light and fluffy, and triple in volume. When the sugar reaches a soft-ball stage* (you can measure it at 235F/118C with a thermometer, or by testing a drop of it into cold water until it turns into a malleable ball), remove from heat and carefully pour the sugar syrup into the running mixer. Slowly drizzle the hot sugar down the side of the bowl and be careful of splattering hot liquid. Quickly soak gelatine sheets in a bowl of water, squeeze out the liquid and add into the warm egg mixture. Let the mixer run until the mixture is cool.

  3. When the melted chocolate, semi-whipped cream, and the sabayon is ready, make sure all of them are at a comparable temperature. (if it is not, the mixture will split when you mix them together.) Quickly fold 1/3 of the cream into the chocolate, then fold in all of the sabayon, and then the rest of the cream.  Work gently and quickly to make a light, fluffy mousse.

*learn more about cooking sugar here

For the chocolate glaze:

1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
3oz chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.

To assemble:

Take out a cake ring and place a 1/4″ layer of chocolate cake on the bottom. Line the edge of the ring with a 3″ acetate plastic sheet. Spoon the hazelnut crunch on top of the cake, leaving a 1/4″ perimeter. Take the creme brulee gelee out of the freezer and flip it onto the top of the crunch layer, peeling away the parchment paper. Now, pour the chocolate mousse over, gently wiggling it so the mousse will fill in the perimeter of the cake, so that only the cake layer will show on the side. Gently spread the mousse flat with an offset spatula, making sure the surface is flat and smooth. Place in fridge overnight, or at least 8 hours, until firm.

When ready to decorate, remove cake from the fridge and peel the acetate sheet away. Place the cake on a turner, and slowly pour ganache over the top, rotating while you do it. Gently spread the ganache along the edges to create a dripping effect.

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