This has been an insane winter. In the space of 2 months, I moved into a new home (that we built), my dog and companion of my entire adult life, the last 13 years, died, my grandma died less than a month later. And I got strep throat–for the first time in 20 years–postponing our upcoming trip to Pittsburgh by one week!
Anyway, you all know most of this, but I recount it because I have serious husband birthday guilt. Let me remind you HE got sick also, for over a week, postponing the original feast, but anyway no SE Asian feast ever happened. But his dessert had been hanging out in the freezer for a while, and so this weekend we finally decided that we might as well eat it while it is still good.
The Trio Of Chocolate Mousse Cake came out really good but not perfect. However, I know why and I think it could be easily avoided, so I am posting it anyway. If it was a cookie, or even a bundt cake, I might make it again before posting, but let’s face it, it’s gonna be a while before I have any reason to make a triple mousse cake again (but I will make it again–while it was a bit of a PITA, it was not nearly as difficult as I imagined). The presentation is also lacking because we pulled it out casually, with no ceremony. The first night we tried it plain. The next day I sprinkled some chocolate shavings over it, but nothing else.
C’est la vie.
So, my mistake. I have never made creme anglaise before and it is, alas in hindsight, totally apparent to me I WAY overcooked it. Made it way too thick. Payard calls for the cooking of the creme anglaise to take about 3 minutes–I believe now that was much too long for me. As soon as the creme anglaise coats the spoon at all I would pull it off the heat and strain it. Because mine was too thick, I first of all did not get enough (I made the dark chocolate base with sweetened cream because I ran out and it actually is perfectly textured although it did not hold together quite as well) and second of all the white and milk chocolate layers were a little grainy–although not so grainy that we have not polished off over half the cake so far!
It really does not need whipped cream on top but we like whipped cream on everything and, more importantly, it helped to counteract some of the grainy texture.
3 cups plus 2 T heavy cream
Creme Anglaise base
1 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
3 T sugar
3 T light corn syrup
White Chocolate Mousse
4 oz chopped white chocolate
1 1/2 t (1/2 envelope) powdered gelatin
2 T cold water
Milk Chocolate Mousse
3 1/2 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 t powdered gelatin
2 T cold water
Dark Chocolate Mousse
4 oz 70%+ bittersweet chocolate
1 t powdered gelatin
2 T cold water
Semi sweet chocolate shavings for garnish
First make the whipped cream by whipping the heavy cream on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, until it hold medium peaks. Set aside.
Make the creme anglaise: bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Combine the corn syrup, sugar and eggs in a separate medium sized bowl and whisk together.
Slowly pour about a third of the milk into the yolk mixture, while whisking constantly, enough to temper it, and then pour it all back into the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly, scraping the bottom and sides. Cook the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon (less than 3 minutes). Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it into a bowl. Use a microwave-safe bowl because the creme anglaise is what will melt the chocolate and you may need to gently reheat it.
Make the white chocolate mousse: lightly the spray the sides and bottom of a 9 X 2 inch round cake pan with oil. Line the pan with plastic wrap with at least a 3 inch overhang to aid unmolding later–do your best to prevent wrinkles but frankly I could not. Press the plastic wrap tightly into the edges of the pan.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a cool or room temperature small saucepan and let it stand for 3 minutes. While it stands, place the white chocolate in a medium sized bowl and pour 1/2 cup of the hot (microwave gently if necessary) creme anglaise over it.
Heat the gelatin slowly over low heat, stirring constantly, until it dissolves. Pour it over the melted white chocolate and whisk until it is smooth. With a silicone spatula, fold in 1/3 of the whipped creme and pour the mousse into the prepared pan. The pan should be 1/3 full. Make sure the top is even with a small offset spatula and then place the pan (on a level surface) in the freezer. Let the mousse firm up for 20 minutes or until the top is halfway firm.
Make the milk chocolate mousse: repeat the procedure used for the white chocolate mousse, using 1/2 cup of the creme anglaise (reheated if necessary) and 1/2 of the remaining whipped cream. Pour on top of the white chocolate layer and once again smooth the top with a small offset spatula. Return to the level surface in the freezer for another 20 minutes.
Make the dark chocolate mousse: repeat the process a third time, using the last of the creme anglaise and whipped cream. Make sure the top of the mousse is smooth and even in the pan as the cake will rest on this layer. Return to the freezer for 20 minutes, after which you can cover the cake with plastic wrap and leave in the freezer for at least overnight and up to a month.
Serving the cake: Fill a sink or wide bowl with hot water. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and ready a cake stand (or plate if you are us). Dip the bottom half of the pan into the water to loosen the cake for about 5-10 seconds. Then carefully invert the cake onto the plate/stand and remove the plastic wrap. In an ideal world, I was going to try either pouring or drizzling with semi sweet chocolate ganache while it was still frozen, but as it happens I just covered it in shavings. Payard has some difficult instructions for white chocolate fans, etc, but let’s just say I swore off truffles until my kids are grown and I was not going near trying to make fans out of chocolate!
Let the cake thaw out overnight in the fridge. Payard claims that you can eat it semi-freddo after one hour, but we could not even get a knife into it and once we could the bottom 2 layers broke up a bit, as you can see in the top photo, but the next morning it sliced perfectly. Besides we liked it much better after it totally thawed.