Sunday, 9 February 2014

{review: "Charlotte Vanilla Chocolate" cake}

I wanted to make something a bit different for Chinese New Year and had a look through my recipe books. I found on my shelf the "I 'heart' Chocolate, I love Thermomix' cookbook. I bought this recipe book as I just love reading new ones and gaining ideas and inspiration but there was no special occasion yet to try and make a chocolate creation. I love baking and making desserts and the rest of my family had delegated such task to me for our annual feast.

So, I flicked through the book and shortlisted a number of recipes. These included: The Swiss Forest Gateau, The Origine and the Chocolate & Coffee Cake. In the end, the "Charlotte, Vanilla Chocolate Cake" won out as it didn't look too difficult, didn't look like it took too much time and didn't have coffee or liquor in it for the little ones. I would have been correct on all these assumptions if only I read the recipe not once, not twice but three times! So, below, I have compiled a bit of a tips and tricks guide for this particular recipe and if anyone feels inclined to make it, then hopefully it will help them too. Having said that, I always have fun baking and can usually save my creations to make something presentable. As you will see from the pictures, my version definitely does not look as elegant but still tasted yummy.

Firstly, when I initially read the recipe, I thought it would take about an hour to make and assemble. Maybe I was tired from doing a Thermomix Demo that day, but in reality it took 3 hours to make (including fixing my mistakes).

Secondly, reading through the ingredients list, it seems quite straight forward. However, it does state a total of 180grams of egg yolks for the Chocolate Sponge and Vanilla Mousse. Do you know how many eggs that requires? I did not and happened to have 13 eggs in my fridge. This was not quite enough. I would buy 2 dozen to make sure there are enough in case you have any mistakes. You will also have quite a lot of egg whites left over so either freeze them or offer to make 2 desserts for your function and make a pavlova too :-) Also, for the caster sugar, I would use the commercial pre-made caster sugar instead of milling raw sugar. I find that the commercial stuff is dryer and less granular especially when you're making something quite fiddly and delicate. GELATINE. What can I say? I used Gelatine leaves for this recipe and it is probably the first and last time I will ever use this ingredient. I'm used to using the powder form and forgot that there are different strengths to the leaves. In the recipe, it states 2.5 leaves. They forget to mention that it needs to be of the strongest strength (titanium)! I happened to use to complete opposite and already added it into the Mousse before realising. To fix, I had to dissolve 8 more sheets and then re-mix therefore converting the Mousse into a jelly. It still tasted good but did not have the correct fluffiness that a Mousse should have. Last tip for the ingredients would be the amount of cream to be whipped. Altogether, the recipe needs 750grams of whipping cream. When you go to the shops, it will all be in mL. I recommend buying 1kg of cream to make sure you have enough.

Thirdly, although the method is written for each component, I found 'intertwining' the methods a bit more efficient. For example, while the chocolate sponge is cooking (step 5), start on the Vanilla Mousse. When you have completed step 5 of the Mousse, go back to the Chocolate Sponge (step 6) and assemble in the ring or cake tin. Something to note for the Chocolate Sponge as well is the use of a 'large lined oven tray' in step 6 to bake to Sponge on. Nowhere can I find the dimensions of the oven tray. I basically used the largest one that could fit in my oven. This however, was not large enough to create the "4cm strip of cake to line the inside (sides)" in one strip. Instead, I had to cut an extra square so that my cake did not look as good. So that you do have one complete strip of cake, I've done the calculations and require a oven tray that is at least 63cm wide for a 20cm ring/cake tin. That's all well and good if you've got an oven to match (which I don't have). Because of this, my Chocolate Sponge also ended up a bit 'thick' and therefore not as dainty. However, it was easier to cut the pieces required and lift off the tray. Having said that, I ended up with a puzzle of sponge pieces for the bottom of the cake and a nice circle of sponge for the top. No one could notice but I knew it was there.

Lastly, other tips for assembling the cake. In step 3 of the Vanilla Mousse, you 'leave the custard to cool to body temperature'. I would recommend placing cling wrap on the top to stop a skin forming and actually placing it in the fridge while you progress with the rest of the recipe. In step 6 of the Vanilla Mousse, after adding the Mousse to the top of the assembled Chocolate Sponge sides and base, I would pop the tin into the fridge for a good 30minutes to start the Mousse setting. After it is a bit more solidified, I would then add the top Chocolate Sponge circle. I learnt the hard way and mine started sinking into the Mousse and my panic rose just that bit more... After completing step 2 in the Chocolate Mousse layer, I would put the Mousse into a piping bag and cool in the fridge while the cake is solidifying a bit more. After about 30 mins, I would then pipe the Chocolate Mousse over the top layer of the Chocolate Sponge. Any earlier and it feels too wobbly. Even better, leave the cake overnight in the fridge and pipe over in the morning. Finally, in the meantime, make some chocolate decorations to go on the top if you aren't sick of chocolate yet!

I hope these tips help you out to make this cake. Mine didn't look perfect however, it still tasted lovely. I've definitely learnt from my mistakes will read any future recipe from this cookbook 10 times! (maybe just 5 haha..)

Bon Appetit xx 

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