HA….those of you who guessed Muppet, give yourself a gold star!
Yes indeed, to celebrate our young chocoholic's 14th birthday (where does the time go?), and in keeping with our habit of crafting fairly non-traditional birthday cakes around here (remember this one, and this one?), we decided to get all fancy this year and make this insanely good "Palet d'Or" for the Divine Miss M.
The cake's name which literally translates from French as "gold disk" is a beauty to behold and comes to us courtesy of our favorite chef, Thomas Keller and his executive pastry chef, Sebastien Rouxel. While doing a little pre-birthday research to find something new for our young foodie, I found this recipe in their fabulous Bouchon Bakery cookbook. Though you can't tell from the pre-party shots I took of it, the cake is a multi-level affair comprised of two layers of chocolate devil's food cake, and two layers of rich, chocolate cream. The whole thing is formed inside of a pastry ring to ensure a uniform disk shape, then frozen to firm up the layers. Finally, a warm chocolate glaze is poured over the whole thing to give it a brilliant finish. The edible gold leaf sets it apart as a dish suitable for a princess.
When we travelled to Paris two summers ago, Muppet fell in love with a chocolate confection at the famed Gerard Mulot pastry shop just next to the Place des Vosges. If I'm not mistaken, the treat she enjoyed was a single-serving version of this very cake which she devoured in a bite and a half. Such was her "amour" for the nibble that we made a pilgrimage back to Mulot one more time during our visit so that she could have another before we headed back home.
I know that on the surface this one looks scary difficult, but trust me, it isn't. It does require a few special items, such as a Food Scale , an 8" wide by 1 – 3/8" tall cake ring , and some sheet gelatin, but aside from that all that is required is some time and a little patience. While not technically difficult, there ARE a lot of steps to making this bugger (hey, it's a Keller recipe after all), so be sure to read the recipe through a FEW times before getting started just to make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.
If you want to take a swing at a fancy pâtisserie grade dessert, this would be a pretty good place to start.
You must know someone worthy of such a treat? Have Fun!
Cheers – Steve
for the devil's food cake:
- 101 grams All-purpose flour
- 31 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (we use Valrhona, and so does Keller)
- 2.5 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon)
- 0.5 grams baking powder (1/8 teaspoon)
- 1 gram kosher salt (3/8 teaspoon)
- 56 grams eggs (beaten)
- 126 grams granulated sugar
- 2 grams vanilla paste (1/2 teaspoon)
- 86 grams mayonnaise
- 105 grams water, at room temperature
- (30 grams of 65-70% chocolate , melted for coating the rings of cake prior to placing them in the pastry ring)
for the chocolate cream:
- 333 grams heavy cream
- 233 grams 65-70% chocolate, chopped
- 50 grams eggs (beaten)
- 100 grams egg yolks (beaten)
- 83 grams granulated sugar
for the chocolate glaze:
- 7.2 grams (3 sheets) leaf gelatin
- 150 grams heavy cream
- 225 grams granulated sugar
- 180 grams water
- 75 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
- edible gold leaf for garnishing
for the cake:
- Heat the oven to 325℉. Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or spray lightly with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the parchment.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt and whisk to combine.
- Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute to combine. Increase the speed and whip for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then whip on medium-high speed for another 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. When the whisk is lifted, the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
- Add the mayonnaise and whip to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the dry ingredients and water in 2 additions each.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and using an offset spatula, spread it in an even layer, making sure that it reaches into the corners. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched. Set on a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Lay a piece of parchment over the bottom of a second sheet pan. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it, and invert it onto the bottom of the parchment lined pan remove the Silpat or the parchment from the top of the cake.
- Wrap in a few layers of plastic wrap and freeze until you are ready to cut the cake to fit inside your pastry ring.
- When ready to proceed, cut 2 7 1/4 inch round from the cake. Using an offset spatula, spread the 30 grams of melted chocolate over each cake round. Line a sheet pan with a Silpat and position the cake ring at one end of the pan. Center a cake round (with the melted chocolate side facing down) inside of the ring, then place the second round next to the ring, and freeze for about an hour.
for the chocolate cream:
- Whip the cream to soft peaks and refrigerate.
- Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Transfer the chocolate to a large bowl and let cool to 100℉ - 120℉.
- Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in the (clean) top of the double boiler set over simmering water. Initially the eggs will increase in volume and foam, but after 5-7 minutes of constant whisking, the foam will begin to subside and and the eggs will thicken. You need to move quickly once the eggs thicken or you will over cook them and they will "scramble" in your pan. Immediately transfer them to a clean bowl of a stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until fully thickened and cooled, about 7-8 minutes. When the whisk is lifted, the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
- Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate. Fold in the egg mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip.
- Remove the sheet pan from the freezer. Pipe a ring of cream to fill the gap between the edge of the cake and the ring. Then pipe a spiral, beginning in the center of the cake and extending to the edges of the ring. Place the second cake layer over the layer of cream. repeat the piping, using enough of the cream to reach slightly above the rim of the ring. Sweep a long offset spatula over the cream from one side of the ring to the other for a perfectly smooth surface. Refrigerate any excess cream.
- Place the sheet pan in the freezer. After several hours, check the cake. If the center has dipped, stir the reserved cream to soften it, then spread it over the top and smooth the surface again. Freeze overnight.
For the chocolate glaze:
- Place the gelatin in a bowl of ice water to soften.
- Place the cream, sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the cocoa powder, reduce the heat to keep the mixture at a gently boil, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by about 1/3. Test by spooning a small amount onto a plate; run your finger through it - if it runs together, continue to reduce until your finger leaves a track. Once it has reached the desired consistency, remove the mixture form the heat. Wring the excess water from the gelatin and whisk it into the cocoa mixture. Cover and keep warm.
to glaze the cake:
- Line a sheet pan with parchment and set a cooling rack on top. Position the frozen cake, still in the ring, on the rack. Warm the side of the ring with your hands or with warm towels, if necessary. (Do not use hot water, the cream must remain frozen). Lift up and remove the ring.
- Gently reheat the glaze if necessary so that it is hot, and strain through a fine meshed strainer into a large, spouted measuring cup. In one smooth, quick motion, pour the glaze over the top of the cake, beginning 1 1/2 inches from the edges, allowing the glaze to flow down the sides and into the center to coat. Tap the sheet pan gently against the work surface to distribute the glaze evenly.
- Let the glaze set for a few minutes, then using a cake lifter or a wide spatula, lift the cake from the rack and place it on a serving platter.
- Using the tip of a pairing knife, place some gold leaf on the cake. The cake can be refrigerated, for up to a day and the glaze will remain shiny.