09 November 2009


Fontainebleau (with title)
In about 30 hours I'm going to be leaving- again- for the United States. My US Tour will once again hit New York, a bit of New Jersey, Chicago, Sacramento, and San Francisco. And again there's that pounding in my chest, for several reasons: 1) I feel like this is going to be it- I'm going to get that medical residency, 2) I cannot freaking WAIT to be in the hospital again (sorry blog), 3) I am so afraid of failing, 4) and I am going to miss celebrating my birthday, Christmas, and New Year's eve with my family. But if I do get that residency, that will be something I'll have to get used to anyway. Thankfully, I will still get to spend it with family (my dad's cousin's family), so it's not so sad. But all this excitement and fear is not so great on my internal organs. Must breathe deeply.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I won't be spending most of my time in New Jersey like last January; this time, I'll be mostly in California, even though I have zero interviews in hospitals there (just not possible). I hope you'll excuse my brevity for today, as there's a lot of last-minute packing and planning to do.

For now, please take a look at part 1 of a feature Duncan and I have been working hard on- The Gastronomer's Bookshelf is featuring a lot of the new and noteworthy titles coming out from October to December, and this week we've compiled all the Baking, Pastry, Dessert, and Christmas titles (with a few from France and Germany thrown into the mix) so you can check out what might interest me you or your loved ones and make that gift list and avoid the rush (see what I did there? :).

I've already forgotten what special occasion I made this Fontainebleau for but it must have been really special for me to have put in all this effort! Ha ha ha. It is quite the showstopper and I especially love how the raspberries tickle your tongue in between all that decadent chocolate mousse and cake. Naturally I didn't use fresh raspberries, but the frozen ones worked just fine.
Fontainebleau (sliced)
This cake was created by Charlie Payard and his father, then simplified for home baking by Francois Payard. It's from Chocolate Epiphany (click to read my review, opens in a new window).

I had a bit of a problem with the joconde- it seems the recipe had an error. It called for only 2 egg yolks for the whole cake, which had me folding in a streusel-like mixture into the meringue (not happening), so in frustration I stopped folding and beat the whole thing together until it was fairly homogeneous. What came out of the oven was absolutely delicious and miraculously worked. So you're not going to fail if you use 2 egg yolks and beat everything together at the final step till it's smooth, but for the sake of sanity, I've adopted a more traditional ratio for joconde that uses 2 whole eggs instead of 2 egg yolks here.

Since gianduja only became recently available here, I substituted it with half (by weight) Nutella and half melted 70% chocolate. Since it goes in the mousse, it doesn't really matter; plus it still tasted delicious.

Fontainebleau adapted from Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone
Raspberries in Brandy
Prepare the night before. Do this only if you have fresh raspberries; frozen raspberries will be too soft to macerate. If using frozen, just use 400g thawed without the brandy.

  • 500g (1 pound) raspberries

  • 500g (2 cups) brandy

Add both ingredients to a bowl or jar and let macerate in the refrigerator. Drain the raspberries before using in the cake.

Sacher Cake
  • 70g (3/4 cup) almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds

  • 78g (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) sugar

  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature

  • 25g (1/4 cup) Dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Spray a 23cm (9 inch) round cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with parchment cut to fit exactly.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the almond flour, 65g (1/3 cup) of the sugar, 3 of the egg whites, and all the egg yolks together until it doubles in volume and is pale yellow, about 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the remaining 3 egg whites until they hold soft peaks, then continue beating while sprinkling in 13g (1 tablespoon) sugar until they hold stiff peaks.

With a silicone spatula, fold the cocoa into the yolk mixture, then fold the yolk mixture into the meringue. Pour into the pan and place it in the oven, immediately lowering the heat to 190°C (375°F) after you put the pan in. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

  • 120g (4 ounces) 100% chocolate (I used 70% with no adverse effect), melted

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 95g (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds

  • 95g (3/4 cup) confectioners' sugar

  • 25g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour

  • 20g (1-1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • 12g (1 tablespoon) granulated sugar

Line a 25x38cm (10x15 inch) rimmed sheet pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper (I used parchment paper with little difficulty). Pour the melted chocolate over the lining and use a small offset spatula to spread it in a thin layer over the whole surface. You can do finger-painting or use a fork, but I prefer to use a pastry comb for a neat design- draw it firmly over the length of the lining to make a pattern in the chocolate. Cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 days in advance.

This is exactly the comb I used to make the design.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). In a large bowl, place the whole eggs, almond flour, confectioners' sugar, and all-purpose flour. Beat together for 10 minutes, until it's reached its maximum volume. Using a silicone spatula, fold in the melted butter.

In a second bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Sprinkle in the granulated sugar while beating and continue to whip the whites until they hold stiff peaks. Gently fold the meringue into the batter, being sure not to lose too much volume (though I have found it works quite well even if you beat the hell out of it).

Remove the sheet pan with chocolate from the freezer and pour the batter over the designs. Spread the batter evenly with an offset spatula and bake for 8 minutes (the cake will be barely colored and will spring back when pressed lightly with your palm). Let the cake cool on the sheet pan.

Place a sheet of parchment over the back of a second identical sheet pan and place it parchment-side-down on the cooled joconde. Flip the entire thing over and remove the original pan. Carefully peel off the silicone lining (or original parchment) and the chocolate should be embedded on the joconde. Cut two 6.4x35.6cm (2-1/2x14 inch) neat strips from the joconde.

Gianduja Mousse
  • 160g (2/3 cup) whole milk

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 20g (1-1/2 tablespoons) sugar

  • 80g (1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon) light corn syrup

  • 300g (1-1/4 cups) heavy cream

  • 150g (5 ounces) gianduja chocolate, finely chopped (or 75g Nutella and 75g finely chopped bittersweet chocolate)

  • 30g (2 tablespoons) cold water

  • 3.2g (2 teaspoons) unflavored powdered gelatin

In a small heat-proof bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and light corn syrup. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Slowly pour a third of the milk into the yolk mixture while whisking the eggs madly. Pour it back into the saucepan and place over low heat, stirring constantly (be sure to reach the bottom of the pan so it doesn't burn) until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and a track left by your finger doesn't disappear, about 3 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl.

In a large bowl, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. In a small cup, pour the cold water in and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand 3 minutes.

Place the gianduja (or Nutella-chocolate mix) into a medium bowl and pour the hot creme anglaise over it. Add the dissolved gelatin and water. Whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Fold this into the whipped cream.

Line the sides of a 23cm (9 inch) cake ring that is 6.4cm (2-1/2 inches) high with an acetate strip. Place this on a a sheet pan and place a cake round at the bottom.

Split the Sacher cake into 2 equal layers.

Gently lift the joconde strips (you can use parchment strip to support them as you lift) and use them to line the sides with the decorations facing out (no tragedy if they break, just piece them together as best as you can). Cut off any excess. Place a round of Sacher cake at the bottom and fill the ring halfway up with gianduja mousse. Using an offset spatula, push the mousse up the sides of the ring (this will also cement any breaks in the joconde). Arrange the drained raspberries over the mousse and place the second round of Sacher cake on top. Fill with the remaining mousse. Place this in the freezer until the mousse sets, about 3 hours.

Chocolate Glaze
  • 125g (4 ounces) 61% chocolate, finely chopped

  • 6g (1 teaspoon) light corn syrup

  • 125g (1/2 cup) heavy cream

In a small bowl, add the chocolate and corn syrup. Bring the cream to a boil in a microwaveable container in the microwave or a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and mix with a spatula, avoiding incorporating air bubbles into it. Strain into a pouring cup and let cool until only warm to the touch, close to body temperature.

Take the cake out of the freezer and remove the ring, leaving the acetate in place. The cake should be completely frozen. Pour the glaze over the cake so that it covers only the top in a layer about 2mm (1/16 inch) thick, smoothing with a large offset spatula. Let it thicken slightly then remove the acetate strip. Let the cake thaw for about 45 minutes or up to 6 hours, then serve. You can garnish the top with more fresh raspberries if desired.

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