Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chocolate, mon amour!

Well, not quite mon amour, but I solemnly promise myself -and to the world- that this is the last recipe having chocolate in it, at least for this year! And the reason why I have tortured myself tasting the chocolate mixtures like a thousand times (and hey, cocoa is a mild drug, ask the many chocoholics out there!) is that the dessert I will present you today has the name of Versailles in it, it's a "Versaillais au chocolat". Logically it deserves the place of honor in my blog and therefore I was more than ready to sacrifice myself and my kitchen (now partially redecorated with real chocolate splashes) in the name of Versailles puritanism. See how brave am I?

No one really knows who created this rich dessert for the first time, but considering that cocoa was so rare and, by consequence, so fashionable at the Versailles court (introduced from Spain by Anne of Austria, the wife of Louis XIII, and then continuing to gain in fame until its biggest fan, Louis XV, who, btw, left us a hot chocolate recipe written by his own royal hand) it really was no surprise that one of the many chocolatiers that Versailles had came up with this invention, presented it at the court and won the posterity's heart. It's also called "Trianon au chocolat", "Royal au chocolat" or "Croustillant au chocolat" (chocolate crispy cake).

Versaillais au chocolat - Chocolate Versaillais

Serves 2.

The Versaillais au chocolat is a three-layer chocolate cake, with a base of baked nut-flavored meringue, topped by a crunchy chocolate mixture, topped by a chocolate mousse and, finally, decorated with unsweetened cocoa powder. Easy peasy if you follow my instructions, I promise! To begin with, you will need two cake rings for two individual cakes (or only a bigger one) for a neat finishing.

Chocolate mousse recipe 1:
The easiest one: whipped cream + cocoa + powdered/icing sugar : whip the cream and then add cocoa and sugar to taste -also until you get the desired color (mix by using a spatula and with vertical movements, so the small air bubbles you added by whipping the cream won't go away deflating the mousse. The ideal is to be able to mix it all by using the least possible number of movements. I use a sift when I do my mousse this way, it helps add the powders evenly).


Chocolate mousse recipe 2 (the one I used):
I whipped 100g of whipping cream to which I've added a chocolate sauce: I've melted -at bain-marie(water bath), you can also do it in microwave- some 50g of milk chocolate (you can use dark, if you wish) to which I've added 5 teaspoons of milk (you can use water instead) and stirred energetically until it was completely liquid and had a shiny look. I've tested the sauce's temperature by placing a small quantity on the back of my hand and, when it wasn't too hot, but not cold either, I began to add it, little by little, into the whipped cream (again, using a spatula and vertical movements, like I explained before). The mousse doesn't necessarily have to be perfectly mixed; you can obtain a nice contrast with the black chocolate streaks into the white cream. Remember: the less you mix it, the fluffier it stays!

The mousse can now wait in the fridge (to get a little harder) until we're done with the other layers.

The crunchy layer:
Melt praline filled chocolate - or mix melt chocolate with praline (=ground caramel-covered hazelnuts) - then add ground crisp waffles or anything that stays crisp when mixed with melted chocolate.

I use Gavottes, a thin Breton crisp cookie - yet another cooking mistake that ended a hit dessert (although not as famous as the tarte Tatin). Due to this admirable quality of the French, capable of turning even the most appalling error into their advantage, the cooking world (and not only!) is now richer. They also must have invented the "it's not a bug, it's a feature!" axiom, on which is based the entire IT universe. Thank you, France!

The baked meringue:
Depending on eggs' size, you might need one or two egg whites. Here are the quantities for two small egg whites:

- 2 egg whites
- 20g granulated sugar
- 50g powdered/icing sugar
- 50g powder almonds/hazelnuts
- cocoa powder to taste

Mix powdered sugar with almond powder and cocoa (Taste it! It should taste good!)
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, then add 20g of sugar and continue beating a little longer. Add the mix of powders with vertical movements, like already explained.

Line your tray with non-stick baking paper then spread the batter in it, at the desired height (it also has to be wide enough for your cake rings).

Preheat your oven at 180° and cook 10-15 min until the exterior is crispy (leave it a little more if you want it crispier) then let it cool on a cooling rack so it will stay crisp.

- cut the merengue with the cake rings
- then add the chocolate crunchy layer
- top with the chocolate mousse
- refrigerate the rings for a couple of hours

When serving, warm the outside of the cake rings so you can take it off easily, then sprinkle some cocoa powder on top.

Bon appétit !

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