Leo’s Chocolate Mousse and Cherry Birthday Cake

  • Time: 3 hours plus 4 hours in fridge
  • Serves: 12
  • Level: hard

‘I get excited around my birthday as it means cake time! Usually I ask (as Dad mentions below) for Mum’s chocolate amaretti torte, as I find it troublesome to eat spongy cakes. And the amaretti torte is absolutely perfect! This year pops tried out some new skills and made a yummy chocolate mousse, it took some time but was worth it, and looked divine!’

Leo Williamson
'I'm a big fan of cake, especially chocolate cake! Even more so when it's my birthday!'

What you need

For the cherries and cherry sauce

2 basic tins of stoned cherries (approx 400g each tin)

1 special tin or jar of cherries

Caster sugar to taste (about 50g-100g)

Grated zest of half an orange

125ml red wine

50ml port

1tsp cornflour

For the sponge

75g plain flour

50g cocoa powder

4 medium eggs

125g caster sugar

30g butter melted and cooled but still liquid

Butter and flour to grease cake tin

For the mousse

200g. 70% dark chocolate

400ml double cream

500ml whole milk

125g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tsp cornflour

6 egg yolks

To serve

Chocolate shavings using 200g 70% dark chocolate

Equipment

20cm spring form cake tin

22cm or 23cm spring form cake tin

Small slab of marble



Dad's Recipe Tales

Leo’s Birthday Cake!

This is an amazing cake. I had to break the mold though. WDC normally make an amaretti torte for birthdays. But as I am continually honing my skills (especially my recently acquired. award-winning baking skills for smart energy !) I looked for a new recipe which included mousse as Leo is not too keen on sponge. This is based on Michel Roux’s chocolate mousse cake with cherries.

It was delicious.

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Start the sponge. The recipe uses the Genoese method – but a normal Victoria-type chocolate sponge will work as well. Butter and flour the 20cm cake tine. Pre-heat the oven to 190C, Gas 5
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar. Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage – i.e. the mixture leaves a ribbon-like trail on top of the mixture. This can take up to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and cocoa – and butter. Sieve the flour and cocoa together into a bowl and then gradually tip into the whisked eggs, folding carefully with a spatula. Then add the butter and continue to fold until just mixed.
  4. Bake the sponge. Pour the mix into the cake tin and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes until cooked. Test at 25 minutes with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean it is cooked. (It is easy to over cook this type of sponge which will make it dry…)
  5. Cool the sponge. Release the spring form and let the cake rest for 10 minutes. Then take off the rim and turn the cake over on a wire rack – remove the spring form base. Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Put the cake in the refrigerator to cool and settle for 1 hour.
  6. Make the custard for the mousse. Pour a little of the milk into a glass add the cornflour and stir. Put the rest of the  milk, vanilla and 75g of the sugar in a bowl and bring to the boil – take off the heat. In a separate bowl, beat the the egg yolks and 50g sugar until light and creamy and it also leaves ribbons on top of the mixture. Pour the cornflour mix and hot milk onto the eggs, mix and pour back into the pan and heat over a low heat gently until it is thick and coats the back of spoon. Usual caveats apply – don’t heat too much or bring to the boil. Cornflour helps stabilise the custard and give a little extra thickness.
  7. Finish the mousse. In a separate bowl, pour the hot custard over the chocolate, stir to mix thoroughly. Whip the cream to between a soft and stiff peak stage. Add to chocolate custard folding to combine. Put the bowl over ice to cool then store in the refrigerator.
  8. Make the cherry sauce. Drain the cherries from the good quality tin or jar reserving the syrup. Shake to remove as much liquid as possible then finally drain excess liquid on kitchen towels. Meanwhile set aside 2 tablespoons of the cherry syrup. Set the cherries aside. Repeat with one of the other tins of cherries. Blitz the cherries and syrup from the 3rd tin in a blender or processor and then put into a saucepan with the reserved liquid from the other two tins, the orange zest, wine and port. Boil this vigorously and flame the alcohol if possible. Continue heating at a gentle rolling simmer until it is reduced by two thirds. Mix the cornflour in the reserved syrup from the first tin/jar of cherries. Add this to the sauce and stir. Then taste. Gradually add small amounts of sugar until the sauce taste sufficiently sweet. Finish the sauce by gently heating for another 5 minutes with the sugar and cornflour. Strain the sauce and then add the reserved cherries from the second tin and stir. Allow to cool.
  9. Assemble the cake. Cut the sponge in half horizontally. Place both halves, cut side up and using a brush, liberally apply a coating of cherry syrup to each cut side. Put the top half cut side up on a presentation plate. Position the spring form ring over the cake and spread the mousse over the top of the cake and down the sides – you will need various spoons and spatulas to do this. Judge using half the mousse mixture for this layer. Using the reserved cherries from the first tin or jar position the cherries evenly over the cake. Place the remaining sponge into the ring on top of the other half cut side down. Repeat with the mousse mixture. Cover with cling film and put in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 hours.
  10. Make the chocolate shavings. Shavings can be made with a vegetable peeler drawn across a bar of good chocolate. But if you have a small piece of marble you can use the tempering method – the shavings are more impressive. Temper the chocolate by chopping 150g chocolate – put it into a microwave safe bowl and heat on medium heat for 50 seconds. Stir the chocolate (even if it doesn’t look like it is melted or will benefit from stirring…) Repeat only until the chocolate has completely melted, reducing the time if necessary. Chop the remaining chocolate into very small pieces. Gradually add to the melted chocolate stirring with a spatula until amalgamated into the melted chocolate. Repeat until no more chocolate will melt into the chocolate. Use less or more chopped chocolate as required. Pour only enough chocolate onto a marble slab that can be spread evenly to a depth of about 2mm. With the slab very securely attached to a surface, use a sharp knife or scraper to make shavings of chocolate. Repeat with the rest of the chocolate.
  11. Present the cake and sauce. Using a knife or thin spatula heated in hot water (but wiped free of liquid), work the cake free from the spring form ring. Using a spatula tidy up the mouse to a neat shape. Then cover the whole cake with chocolate shavings.
  12. Serve. Using more hot knives – or a normal cake slice – cut pieces from the cake. Serve with a spoonful of cherries  and cherry sauce. It is very good as it is but a little extra cream doesn’t go amiss…

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