Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Apples and Caramel

           In Russia we celebrate New Year twice: on the 1st and on the 14th of January (according to the Julian calendar used by the Orthodox Church). There are a few good things about it: first, we are still in a holiday mood when everybody else are already stuck in the routine; second, we can keep a Christmas tree for three weeks in our house (decorating it before the Western Christmas) and, finally, we have much more opportunities to create a feast on a dining table.

           As I was considering what I should cook for the Old New Year (that’s how we call this holiday) for dessert I realized that it would be hard to beat the success of “Tanzanie” cake that I had made two weeks before. Yet, I figured out that choosing another creation of a whimsical pâtissier Adriano Zumbo would be the best thing to do (and since I had stepped on the path of recreating his cakes I didn’t feel like deviating from it).

            My choice was quite simple (comparing to the previous very sophisticated gateau) – Chocolate Mousse Cake which actually brought Mr Zumbo popularity after he appeared with it on TV – in the finals week of Masterchef Australia in 2009. I was not in India at the time, so I didn’t see the first series of the show. Later on, however, I watched a video of the episode where Julie Goodwin (who eventually won the title of the first Australian Masterchef) gasps in astonishment as the cake is cut through and all the layers – the chocolate mousse, the salted caramel, the apple tatin insert, jaconde biscuits with cigarette décor and pate sable – are seen clearly and distinctly.

            As I made the cake for the New Year, I decided to use special templates for making the side décor on jaconde and I also made an edible “Christmas ball” – the same way as I made ghosts for Gingerbread house on Halloween. To say true, it took me quite a while to make all the elements of the cake but it was really worth all the pains! The rich chocolate mousse, the crunchy cinnamon flavoured shortcrust pastry and the spiced apple filling (with ginger and orange zest) produced a delightful concoction and a perfect treat for a winter holiday!

Recipe adapted from the original one by Adriano Zumbo (


Pate sable cinnamon
143 gm cold butter cubed
75 gm caster sugar
18 gm vanilla sugar
188 gm plain flour
1 egg yolk
1 gm ground cinnamon

Texture apple tatin insert
2 granny smith apples, peeled & diced
175 gm caster sugar
88 gm butter
1 ½ granny smith apples, peeled & diced
5 gm butter
1 tbsp orange zest
4 gm fresh ginger, grated
25 gm caster sugar
1 tbsp Cointreau

Salted caramel layer
150 gm caster sugar
30 gm liquid glucose
60 gm water
110 gm  cream
3 gm gelatine
63 gm butter
1 gm salt

Cigarette decor paste
50ml  cream
50g   egg white
50g   icing sugar
30g   plain flour
20g   cocoa

Biscuit jaconde
30 gm plain flour
20 gm butter, melted
100 gm almond flour
100 gm icing sugar
3 eggs
90 gm egg whites
30 gm caster sugar

Strawberry ganache
63 gm strawberries, pureed
6 gm icing sugar
30 gm caster sugar
1 gelatine leave
100 gm dark chocolate, chopped
18 gm butter, cut into cubes

Sabayon mousse
60 ml  Earl Grey tea, strained
50 gm castor  sugar
50 gm egg
strawberry ganache (see recipe above)
60 gm  dark chocolate, melted
400 gm whipped cream (soft peaks)

Christmas ball
100 gm butter cake
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp raisins (soaked in rum)
1 tsp orange zest
50 gm white chocolate, melted
50 gm dark chocolate, melted
a handful of edible small silver drops

Christmas ball (recipe above)
Chocolate decorations
3 tbsp cocoa powder


 1. For pate sable, preheat the oven to 160C. Mix butter, flour, sugar and vanilla till it resembles bread crumbs Add egg, mix till it comes together. Tip mixture onto bench and knead lightly. Roll out on a sheet of baking paper until 7 – 8 mm thick. Place ring mould (the same size as the mould in which you’ll be assembling the cake) over pastry and cut around outside edge, remove excess outer pastry. Transfer the round of the pastry on a greased baking paper to an oven tray and bake until lightly golden, about 15 – 20 minutes.

2. For texture apple tatin, start with making part one.  Caramelize the sugar using dry method, and then emulsify the caramel with the butter. Add the apples, cook until the they are are translucent and caramel in colour. Cool the mixture.

3. Make part two of the tatin insert. Add butter, orange zest, & ginger to a pan and cook until aromatic. Add sugar and apples. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, add the liquor and flambé. Cool the mixture.

4. Mix the two apple mixtures together. Place in a mould (smaller than the mould in which you’ll be assembling the cake) and put in a freezer until set.

5. For salted caramel layer, soak gelatine in a small amount of cold water. Heat the cream. Place sugar, glucose, water in a saucepan, cook to caramel colour. Deglaze sugar with the cream. Heat the gelatine gently over low heat till it dissolves, and then pour it into the caramel, stirring.  Add butter and whisk till smooth. Place in a mould (smaller than the mould in which you’ll be assembling the cake) and put in a freezer until set.

6. For cigarette décor, mix all the ingredients together. Put a template on a baking tray lined with baking paper and use palette knife to spread some of the mixture over it. Carefully remove the template and place the baking tray in the freezer.

Cut 2 rounds out of a baking paper (smaller than the size of the mould in which you’ll be assembling the cake) and spread the remaining mixture over them. Use your fingers to make some swirl patterns. Place the rounds in the fridge.

7. For biscuit jaconde, preheat the oven to 200C. Beat eggs, icing sugar, and almond meal together. Whip egg whites till soft peaks, add castor sugar and beat till stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into egg almond mixture alternating with butter and flour. Take the rounds with cigarette décor out of the fridge and the prepared pattern out of the freezer and spread the jaconde mixture over them. Bake for 10 minutes till golden in colour. While still hot, flip and carefully remove the baking paper.

8. For strawberry ganache, soak the gelatin leave in cold water. Push the strawberry puree through a fine sieve and heat it in a saucepan with icing and castor sugar till the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and immediately pour over the chocolate and stir till it melts. Squeeze water out of gelatine and add it to the chocolate mixture. Add butter and stir till smooth.

9. For sabayon mousse, place tea, sugar and eggs in a bowl over simmering water and whisk till they start to thicken. Remove the bowl from bain marie and beat the mixture with electric mixer till it cools down and expands. Add the chocolate and strawberry ganache to the sabayon, then fold in the whipped cream.

10. For edible Christmas ball, crumble the cake and mix it with orange zest and raisins. Pour the juice over it. The resulting mixture should be wet but still holding its shape. Make a ball and pour the melted white chocolate over it.  “Glue” silver drops to the surface of it. Make decorations using the dark chocolate (stars, rounds and hemispheres) and place one of them on the top of the white Christmas ball (you will use the remaining ones to decorate the sides and the top of the cake).

Step-by-step decoration of the Christmas ball
That's how it looks when cut through
11. The cake is assembled upside-down. Spread a thin layer of chocolate mousse at the bottom of the mould. Cut a rectangular piece of jaconde with a pattern and place it in the mould (pattern side outwards), pressing gently to line the side of the mould. Take a caramel disk out of the freezer and place it on the mousse. Top with one round of the jaconde biscuit and cover it with a thin layer of the mousse. Take apple tatin insert out of the freezer and place it in the centre of the mousse. Top with the second round of jaconde. Spread the remaining mousse and cover with pate sable round. Place in the fridge overnight. Carefully invert the cake on the serving plate, sprinkle with cocoa powder and place the decorations on top and on the sides of the cake.


1.      The original recipe calls for using blackberries for the ganache. I don’t think there’s much difference: there’s such a small amount of it in the mousse that one should probably have a really sensitive palate to identify the fruit in it.
2.      The preparation can be divided in several days: make the elements that need to be frozen first, then make jaconde, mousse and assemble the cake. The decorations can be made on the day of serving.

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