I won’t lie. This is about to get complicated. At times like this, I wish I had another set of hands, an assistant and more rubber spatulas. But, alas, still me in my tiny kitchen.
This dessert should have an official name, but it doesn’t. Comments are always welcome so if you can think of a good one, let me know. The recipe is from Michel Roux’s Desserts book. He’s a magician.
This dessert officially has four parts: chocolate genoese (or genoise), berry compote, lavender infused crémeux, and chocolate mousse. Technically, there is also a fifth part: the creme anglaise that goes into the mousse. Set aside half a day for this one.
- 200 g caster sugar
- 400 g mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, currants, strawberries, etc. Your choice.)
- Juice of 1 lemon
In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add berries (add in order of ripeness, most fragile last). Poach for 2 minutes and set aside to cool. Strain berries and return syrup to the pan.
Cook briskly until syrup has reduced to 1/3. Pour over the berries, then add the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate.
Genoese (or genoise)
For the dessert you’ll need 400 g sponge batter.
- 125 g all-purpose flour, sifted (to make a chocolate genoese, substitute 50 g of the flour with dark, bitter cocoa powder).
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 125 g caster sugar
- 30 g melted butter, cooled to tepid
Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick (about 10-12 minutes). It should leave a ribbon trail.
Sift the flour and cocoa onto waxed paper so you can add it more easily to the egg mix. Shower in the flour gradually while folding with a rubber spatula. Be thorough.
Add melted butter and fold in carefully.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay parchment over a 16″x24″ baking pan and spread the batter evenly over the paper using a palette knife. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Mine took longer; I think it was slightly thicker than it needed to be.
Slide the cooked sponge and parchment onto a cooling rack. Once cool, use 2.5″ metal pastry rings to cut circles of cake. Leave the cake in the rings. If you can’t find tart rings, use biscuit cutters. Transfer the rings and sponge bases to a tray.
- 3 egg yolks (room temperature)
- 40 g caster sugar
- 250 ml cream
- 3 g lavender flowers
- 1 sheet leaf gelatin (I couldn’t find leaf gelatin anywhere! Luckily, we can convert: 1 sheet of leaf = 1/10 gram of powdered gelatin).
Using a whisk, lightly mix the egg yolks and sugar together. Put the cream and lavender flowers in a saucepan and just simmer. Pour the simmering liquid into the egg mix while whisking (keep whisking or your eggs will scramble).
Pour back into the pan and cook over gentle heat until slightly thickened. Don’t let your mix go over 185 degrees.
Meanwhile, add about 1 tsp of cold water to the gelatin and let sit for 5 minutes, covered. Remove the cremeux from the heat. Drain the gelatin and add to the mix, stirring to dissolve.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer or chinois into a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then refrigerate to set (about 15 – 20 minutes).
- 200 g semi-sweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped into bits
- 150 ml creme anglaise*
- 240 ml heavy cream
Okay first, creme anglaise*:
- 500 ml milk
- 125 g sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 6 egg yolks
Put the milk, 2/3 the sugar and the vanilla bean in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil.
Whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together in a heatproof bowl. Whisk until mix is pale yellow and falls in ribbons. Don’t be a hero – use an electric mixer.
After the eggs are thick, pour the boiling milk into the egg yolks while whisking. Pour the mix back into the pan and cook over low heat until mix coats the back of a spoon.
Strain the mix and set the bowl into a larger bowl of iced water to cool. Refrigerate.
Now, back to the Mousse
Put the bits of chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
Gently heat 150 ml (2/3 cup) creme anglaise and pour over the chocolate to melt. Whisk to mix thoroughly.
In a cold bowl, whip the heavy cream until thick. Gently fold it into the chocolate using a rubber spatula. Don’t over mix.
Once the crémeux has firmed up, put into a piping bag with a 1/2″ tip and pipe a mound onto the center of each chocolate round. Chill for 10 minutes to set.
Spoon the chocolate mousse over the crémeux, level with the top of each ring. Tap each ring lightly to eliminate air pockets. Chill until ready to serve (at least an hour).
Place on a serving plate before unmolding desserts. To unmold, gently and briefly warm the sides of each mold with a torch. Careful not to over-heat; it doesn’t take long to melt mousse.
Lift the rings off the desserts and serve immediately with berry compote. Enjoy!