Sunday, February 9, 2014

Big Birthday Extravaganza: Chocolate Cake

What is a birthday without chocolate cake, I ask you? I will tell you: it is someone else's birthday. In our house, birthday cakes are chocolate. Period. This year's cake, made by Mr. A Puppet Opera, was German chocolate, and he tricked me because it was made with gluten-free flour, which I neither noticed nor cared about, because it was DELICIOUS. The cake above was the chocolate delice cake I made for Jules' 40th birthday, and it remains THE MOST SPECTACULAR birthday cake ever produced in our kitchen. In honor of chocolate birthday cakes, here is the recipe:

Raymond Blanc's Chocolate Delice Cake
{ Ingredients }
For the base 
100g/3½oz toasted hazelnuts
100g/3½oz caramelised sugar pieces
150g /5¼oz corn flakes, slightly crushed

For the delice
140ml/5fl oz full-fat milk
325ml/11½fl oz double cream
2 free-range eggs
340g/12oz good-quality dark chocolate, minimum 60 per cent cocoa solids, roughly chopped

For the caramel hazelnuts
125g/4½oz caster sugar 8 hazelnuts, shells removed, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

{ Preparation method } 
For the base, blend the hazelnuts and caramelised sugar pieces in a food processor until you have a smooth paste.

Heat the paste in a small pan on a gentle heat until warmed through.

Place the corn flakes and warmed praline paste into a mixing bowl and scrunch them together, using your hands, until the flakes have broken down and been incorporated into the paste.

Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper, then transfer the praline mixture onto it. Cover the praline mixture with a second sheet of greaseproof paper, then roll the mixture out until it measures at least 14cm x 20cm/5½in x 8in and is 0.5cm/¼in thick. Remove the top sheet of greaseproof paper, then push a 14cm x 20cm x 3cm/5½in x 8in x 1¼in rectangular pastry frame down onto the praline mixture and trim off any excess. (NB: The excess praline mixture can be pressed into any gaps in the mould, if necessary.) Cover the mould with greaseproof paper and chill the praline in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until set.

Meanwhile, for the delice, heat the milk and cream in a saucepan and heat gently over a medium heat until it just reaches boiling point.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl. As the milk and cream mixture comes to the boil, pour it over the eggs, then whisk the mixture constantly until smooth and thick. Stir in the chopped chocolate and whisk again until the chocolate has melted and the custard is smooth.

Remove the base from the fridge and pour in the chocolate delice to fill the mould. Gently tap the sides of the mould to release any trapped air bubbles, then smooth the surface using a palette knife. Chill in the fridge for 6-12 hours, or until completely set.

Meanwhile, for the caramel hazelnuts, heat the caster sugar in a pan over a low heat, stirring occasionally until golden-brown and caramelised. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. (NB: The caramel is cool enough when a cocktail stick dragged across its surface leaves an imprinted trail.)

Spear each hazelnut onto a cocktail stick, then dip the hazelnuts into the caramel until coated. Stick a little adhesive putty onto the underside of a shelf or cupboard above a worksurface and secure the cocktail stick into the putty, so that the caramel drips off the hazelnut and creates a tail. (NB: Place a baking tray or sheets of greaseproof paper underneath the hazelnuts to catch any caramel that drips.)

Set the caramel hazelnuts aside to cool and harden for at least 30 minutes.

{ To serve }
Heat the outside of the mould using a chefs' blow torch to loosen the base of the delice. Carefully remove the pastry frame from the delice.

Heat the top of the delice very quickly using a chefs' blow torch to make the surface glossy. 
Plunge the blade of a knife into boiling water to heat the metal, then slice the delice into six to eight pieces and place one onto each smear of foam, at an angle. Rest a caramel hazelnut against each slice. 

No comments:

You may also be interested in...

Related Posts with Thumbnails