Entries from June 29th, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge – Danish Delight

June 29th, 2008 · 63 Comments · Pastry, Recipes

Danishbraid

Just when I was falling into a breakfast rut and getting tired of the usual cereal or granola for breakfast, along comes the monthly Daring Bakers Challenge to fill my table with Danishes. Thanks to Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’?, and an excellent recipe for Danish dough, I am now reminded of the joys of homemade breakfast pastries. 

Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking has held an honored spot on my bookshelf for years, and I still find myself referring to her book when I have a baking question. If any of you Daring Bakers, or home bakers in general, don’t own it, I’d highly suggest putting it on your list – it’s an invaluable resource. (Yard’s latest book, Dessert by the Yard, is also an excellent cookbook as well.) I’d made her puff pastry and brioche dough before and devoured the results, so it was certainly with happy expectations that I approached her Danish dough.

Thank goodness that the heat wave broke, which made putting this dough together much easier. Nothing more challenging that trying to put together a laminated dough in hot weather! I will say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised by how agreeably workable the Danish dough was. After making croissants in a bakery for about a year, I can say that the added eggs in a Danish dough make it much more pliable and easier to work with (of course, it could also be the fact that I was making a home batch of dough and not struggling to roll out an industrial mixer-sized portion of croissant dough!)

The Danish dough came together beautifully, and while the kitchen was still pleasantly scented with yeast and spices I pondered what to make with it after doing the braid. The most delightful – or devilish – thing about Danishes is just how many tempting forms they can take, leaving one in an agony of gustatory indecision. I certainly didn’t have enough dough to make all the types of Danishes I wanted! Buttery, fluffy-soft, lightly spiced, the Danish dough is an ideal backdrop for all sorts of fillings.

Danishbraid2 

I made the Danish braid with half of the dough and apple filling, topped with turbinado sugar- I can’t decide if I like this or the apple turnovers better – they’re both perfect combinations of crunchy, flaky, buttery pastry and sweet, tender fruit. I really liked creating the braid – a simple and elegant form that looks much harder to make than it really is. Of course, now all the Daring Bakers are in on the secret!

Danishpinwheels 

Among some of the other things to do with Danish dough (as with any other laminated dough, it is a pastry crime to waste any piece of it, especially when you think of all the work that went into its making). Some quick and easy things you can do with a square include envelopes, where you fold two opposite corners together in the middle, and pinwheels, where you make a cut along each diagonal and fold one side down to make a pinwheel form. Here, pinwheels with fresh cherry filling and envelopes with apricot jam and sliced almonds.

Danishclaws

Finally, one of my very favorite ways to indulge in pastry for breakfast – the bear claw. I can’t sing the praises of frangipane enough – simply spread a little of this almond ambrosia on a rectangle of Danish dough, fold in half, and slice little cuts along the edge to make the “claws”. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, bake, and you’ll have some very happy people at the breakfast table.

Thanks again to Kelly and Matt for a great Daring Bakers Challenge!

DANISH DOUGH

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
For the dough (Detrempe) 
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

DOUGH
Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.  Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice.  Mix well.  Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth.  You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer:  Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.  Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.  Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain.  Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even.  Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.  With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.  When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes.  You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

BUTTER BLOCK
1.    Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free.  Set aside at room temperature.
2.    After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Rol l the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick.  The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour.  Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.  Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.  Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third.  The first turn has now been completed.  Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally.  Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3.    Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface.  The open ends should be to your right and left.  Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.  Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third.  No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4.    Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns.  Make sure you are keeping track of your turns.  Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.  The Danish dough is now ready to be used.  If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it.  To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze.  Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling.  Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid.  (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet.  After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients 
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash:  1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1.    Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  On a lightly floured  surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick.  If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again.  Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2.    Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart.  Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3.    Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle.  Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover.  Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling.  This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished.  Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1.    Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid.  Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2.    Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3.    Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.  Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature.  The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

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Frosty Relief for a Hot Summer’s Day

June 26th, 2008 · 36 Comments · Fruit, Ice Cream, Recipes

Lemonyogurtpops

You know what's really fun on a hot, sweltering, summer's day? Licking a blissfully chilly popsicle down to the smooth wooden stick, racing to finish it before it all melts down your chin.

You know what's really not fun on a hot, blistering, summer's day? Trying to take photos of these popsicles before they melt all over your kitchen table and you have none left to eat!

I made these little pops in the middle of a heat wave last week; they were a no-brainer given that blazing sun coming into apartment + no air conditioning meant turning on the oven = not happening. However, I didn't foresee that I would be attempting to document these ephemeral little dainties on the hottest day of the heat wave. So, unless you are a professional photographer with a climate controlled studio and a food stylist at your side with several dozen popsicles waiting as backup in the freezer, what this means is planning out your shots very carefully in advance, taking out the popsicles at the very last moment, and then snapping away like mad before returning the rapidly defrosting pops to the freezer to recover.

As it was, I just managed to get two different setups, so there's a dearth of images in this entry, but I hope they're enough to convey the sheer delight a frozen popsicle can bring. Have you ever held a popsicle just a hairsbreadth away from your cheek, so you can feel the tendrils of coldness uncurling towards your face? Or unwrapped a popsicle, covered in a dusting of frost, and worked to lick all around the popsicle until its true, vibrant color was revealed entirely? Or saved a red-stained popsicle stick after you had finished off the pop because even though you couldn't eat it, the stick is still an essential part of the popsicle, and it reminded you of how delicious it was?

I decided to make some frozen yogurt popsicles, as I've noticed the frozen yogurt trend has gone from latest new sensation in San Francisco to a full-blown craze. There seems to be a frozen yogurt shop opening on every other block, all of them with some sort of variant of "Yogurt" or "Berry" in their name, and all of them offering tart, creamy goodness in a cup.

I confess when I first heard of the Pinkberry sensation I didn't quite get what was going on. After all, I'd already been through the last frozen yogurt wave in college, when the dinner of choice for dieting co-eds was a 12 ounce of froyo from the shop across the street from the dorms. Back then, frozen yogurt either tasted remarkably the same as ice cream, meaning it didn't contain much yogurt, or it tasted like artificially flavored whipped air - suffice to say not my dessert of choice.

However, it seems like now yogurt actually tasting like yogurt is no longer a liability, and people are flocking to the tart, "yogurty" taste as a healthier, lighter alternative to ice cream. Many of the most well-known frozen yogurt franchises, like Pinkberry and Red Mango, originated in Korea, which is not surprising as tarter, less sweetened versions of yogurt have long been much more popular in Asia than in the US. Also, the favored toppings of fruit and mochi dovetails with classic Asian preferences for fresh, clean, not-too-sweet desserts.

The best part about frozen yogurt to me, though, is how simple it is to make at home. It's even simpler than ice cream, since there's no need to muck about with making an anglaise base or anything like that. Simply take some yogurt, combine with some sugar, chill, and whirl away in the ice cream maker! Much of frozen yogurt's appeal is in its straightforward tang; you want to taste the tartness, not mask it. However, you can add more sugar to taste if you want a sweeter, less assertive flavor. I also added lemon juice to my mixture since the citric flavor of lemon meshes well with the yogurt and makes it even more refreshing; it tastes almost like a lemon sherbet, one of my favorite flavors. Also, since you can't have frozen yogurt without toppings, I tossed in some raspberries, which made them both colorful and even more delicious.

If you have those miniature Dixie cups, they are the perfect size for making little popsicles. Just pour in the churned base, insert some wooden sticks, chill in the freezer, and the next day you'll be able to peel off the paper and enjoy - hopefully under a warm summer sun.

Lemonyogurtpops2

Lemon Frozen Yogurt with Raspberries

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts, or about 12 regular popsicles
  • To get the truest yogurt flavor, use plain yogurt, not vanilla-flavored or any other flavor, and with as little sugar added as possible. Regular yogurt contains quite a bit of water, so if you use it straight the frozen yogurt can become hard and icy. To prevent this, regular yogurt should be strained. You can place the yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined strainer or colander and place over a bowl. Fold the cheesecloth around the yogurt and place the whole setup into the refrigerator overnight to let the yogurt drain. You will need more than 3 cups of regular yogurt to yield 3 cups after it's been strained. Or, you can use Greek yogurt, which has already been strained and is thick and creamy. The more fat the yogurt contains, the richer the frozen result will be, naturally, but the 2% yogurt I used yielded quite excellent results and it's not necessary to use full-fat yogurt (not to mention it might negate its touted healthfulness!)
  • 3 cups plain, strained regular yogurt, or Greek yogurt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (to taste)
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir together until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate the mixture for a couple of hours until it is thoroughly chilled.
  • Freeze in an ice cream maker per manufacturer's instructions.
  • When it has reached the consistency of soft serve, you can either scrape into a container and freeze overnight, or divide among popsicle molds and then freeze overnight. You can swirl the raspberries into the mixture before you freeze the yogurt. If you are making popsicles, you may want to cut the raspberries into pieces so you don't have large frozen berries in the pops.

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Thinking about Pastry School?

June 19th, 2008 · 10 Comments · Personal

Minifruittarts

June has been quite the whirlwind  – I feel like someone's put my life into a KitchenAid and turned it on high. Obligations and distractions abound, all conspiring to keep me out of the kitchen. I made some frozen yogurt popsicles last week and I still haven't managed to get a post written about them.

What I have managed to do, though, and what makes me very very happy, is finally completing a post I've been meaning to do for literally a year. This post has been germinating ever since I got my first e-mail asking about pastry school, and has been living as scribbles on sheets, half-organized thoughts, and occasional exclamations of, "I've got to get this post done so I can refer readers to it!" for months and months.

Some of the most oft-fielded questions I get revolve around my experiences in pastry school. How did I decide to go? How did I choose a school? Did I enjoy it? What was it like? Was it worth it? What advice do I have for people looking to go to pastry school?

I had a great time in pastry school, and I love talking about it to anyone who's interested. But after answering these questions over e-mail several dozen times, I thought, there's got a be an easier way.

So now I have created a page titled Want to Go to Pastry School? There's a permanent link to it on the top right corner of my page, and I hope it will answer many questions I get from pastry chefs in the making, as well as providing a bit more background on myself, for those interested parties.

Please feel free to leave questions and comments on the page – I suspect it will be a work in progress but for the moment I'm just glad to have something up. I'm happy to expound more on any and all topics, it's just that the initial page is long enough already! I'm very, very flattered by all of you who have written me asking for advice, and I hope I can continue to help you in the future! Enjoy – and I hope to regale you with the story of my yogurt pops soon!

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An Abundance of Apricots

June 12th, 2008 · 31 Comments · Fruit, Recipes, Tarts

Apricottart1
 

Roasted Apricot Cinnamon Sugar Tartlets

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to make. Sometimes I suffer from a surfeit of suggestions, unable to settle on just one idea, other times it's the dreaded blank slate, when everything seems either too simple or too difficult or too not my style or not my flavors and I end up with my refrigerator and bookcases in disarray and still-clean bowls lining the counter.

That's why I enjoy spring and summer so much, because it's so easy to find inspiration. I just walk down the street to market and see what's come in today: crates of dark red cherries, baskets of plump strawberries, bushels of rosy nectarines. Sometimes I'll finger the exotica: yellow-green papayas, pebbly-skinned lychees, flower bulb-like mangosteens, and ponder whether this is the week I'll try something with them.

This week, however, my eye was caught by a more familiar fruit: the blushing gold apricots. Apricots are the delicate little cousins of peaches and I feel like they often get treated that way: they're not as boldly, sensually curved, and eaten fresh their flavor can be subtler, tarter, unlike the sparkling sweetness of peaches.

I've talked before about holding a peach: it's a gorgeously brazen coquette that fills your hands and boldly tempts you. Holding an apricot, on the other hand, is like holding a robin's egg or a seashell, rare and subtle; you've got to hold it close to find its secrets. When apricots are not fully ripe they can be firm and tart and not the most flavorful. At their peak, though, their flesh becomes lushly yielding, and their flavor takes on a rich, honeyed tone. Cooking is where apricots really shine, which is why you see apricot jam so often: when heated apricots blossom into a wonderful ambrosia, as dreamily sweet as a summer Sunday afternoon.

Apricots have such a short season as well, so very often the apricots you find at market will not be perfectly ripe. I left mine in a paper bag for a few days until they softened and starting scenting the kitchen. I wanted something simple and quick to showcase the fruit, and a puff pastry tart immediately sprang to mind. 

Apricottart3

Almond Apricot Frangipane Tartlets

Now, before you start protesting that puff pastry does not fall under the category of "simple and quick", let me direct you to my blitz puff recipe which you really can make on a whim. It take less than half an hour to put together and once you've given it a good chill, you're ready to start cranking out the tartlets.

I kept it as breezily easy as possible: apricot slices, a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar, and instant summer dessert! With a scoop of ice cream, nothing could be simpler for a warm evening. If you're looking to up the ante, a layer of frangipane spread on the pastry, topped with apricots and a sprinkling of almonds, and you've got yourself a luxe little patisserie-worthy pastry.

Naturally, this will work wonderfully with many of summer's fruits, from peaches to plums. You could also add berries on top after they come out of the oven. In any case, the crisp, buttery puff pastry makes the ideal bed for honeyed, ripe fruit. I love how the pastry puffs up so neatly round the fruit every time, like the perfect picture frame. When you add the frangipane, its creamy nuttiness elevates the clean sweetness of the fruit even more.

I'm actually very happy with this week's creation as it embodies many of my ideals about pastry: simple, seasonal, and richly rewarding for the effort one puts in. After all, isn't summer all about minimizing work and maximizing pleasure?

Apricottart2  
Apricot Tartlets

makes about 12 3"x5" tartlets

7 to 8 apricots

1 recipe Blitz Puff Pastry

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

apricot jam for glaze

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Halve and pit the apricots. Slice them thinly. Sort them them groups of 6 or 7 slices – this will make assembling the tarts faster.

Divide the puff pastry in half and return one piece to the refrigerator to keep it cold. Roll out the other half on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick (not too thin).

Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into roughly 3 1/2" x 5 1/5" rectangles. You can make the tartlets any size you want; square, round, etc. If you make one big tart, though, you may have to adjust the baking time and watch for the outer edges baking before the center.

If you want to use frangipane(see recipe below) on these tartlets, spread a thin layer on top of the puff pastry, leaving a 1/2" border as the frangipane will puff and spread in the oven.

Arrange 6 to 7 apricot slices on each rectangle. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over each tartlet.

Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. The puff pastry should puff up and turn golden brown. Place tartlets on a wire rack and brush lightly with apricot jam. Let cool slightly before serving.

Frangipane (adapted from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake)

3/4 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup flour

Place almonds and sugar in a food processor. Process until almonds are very fine.

Add almond extract and one of the eggs and process until smooth.

Add the butter and process until fully combined and the mixture is smooth.

Add in the egg and process just until incorporated.

Add in the flour and process just until incorporated.

You can use the frangipane immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Chocolate Malt Memories

June 5th, 2008 · 41 Comments · Cakes, Chocolate, Recipes

Maltchoccake  

Because I didn't have enough fun making an opera cake for Daring Bakers, I went for another layered, multi-component cake last week. Sometimes I like to go for simple, breezy creations and other times I just feel like challenging my skills. Making layer cakes is always an exercise that keeps me on my pastry toes. Also, it was my sister's birthday, and she is an unabashed lover of all things chocolate. I'd had my eye on this elegant little number from Pichet Ong's The Sweet Spot for quite a while, and now seemed like the ideal time to break it out.

As Ong describes his creation, it's a death by chocolate cake filtered through a distinctly Asian sensibility. Unlike most Western odes to decadence, which usually involve adjectives like fudgy, gooey, or sticky, and accoutrements like nuts, whipped cream and a cherry on top, this dessert hews to a lighter, more ethereal course. But I'm happy to say the perfect balance of flavors and textures makes it no less dreamily satisfying.

Besides a tendency towards airier, more restrained composition, I've also noticed that many Asian desserts have an affinity for pairing chocolate with malt or coffee. Ong goes for the triple play by combining a chocolate genoise with a malted chocolate mousse and a Vietnamese coffee buttercream. I made all three components, but when it came to assembling them I found I preferred the way the cakes looked without the buttercream. The original recipe called for making one big square cake, which is naturally easier to frost than several small round cakes. The smoky-sweet buttercream, made with Vietnamese coffee and condensed milk, was definitely spoon-licking good though, and I'll probably find a way to use it again, whether in this dessert or another.

Maltchoccake3

My aim was to make those elegant individually-sized cakes you see in those French patisseries, and to make them you need those little metal cake rings. Using them is a bit like making a cake with a blindfold, since you can't see whether your layers are even. It was even trickier with this dessert since it was designed to make a single cake, and I didn't know whether the amounts of cake and mousse were proportioned to making multiple miniature cakes. A little eyeballing, a little guestimating, and I came out with some fairly well-stacked little guys. If it's any reassurance, though, even if the cakes don't come out perfectly even (and I had a few) they're still just as delicious!

The cake is basically a cocoa-flavored genoise and bakes up like a dream: light, springy, and moist. The malted chocolate mousse is airy, creamy, and silky, like all the best mousses should be. I never knew that malted milk was so popular around the world until I went to Hong Kong when I was ten and saw ads on tv touting Horlicks as the perfect breakfast food. In the United States, Carnation and Ovaltine are the most popular brands, but elsewhere there several other choices, the most well known ones being Horlicks and Milo. The same brands can be formulated differently for different markets, so be sure to compare and find which one you like best. Many brands, like Ovaltine and Milo, have cocoa in them so they have a sweeter, more chocolatey flavor. Horlicks has the most straightforward, unsweetened malt flavor. Ong recommends Horlicks in his recipe; combined with bittersweet chocolate it makes for a lovely mousse with notes of caramel and cocoa. I'm not sure if I use quite enough gelatin in making the mousse: it was wonderfully smooth and creamy but was not as firm as I would have liked. I think I might recommend against adding more gelatin and just noting that these cakes will soften up quite quickly once you remove them from the refrigerator. 

Dusted with a little cocoa on top, this cake reminds of Maltesers, another malted delight I was introduced to in Hong Kong. I consumed these malted milk balls by the bagful whenever I went there. There is a brand of malted milk balls in the US called Whoppers but to me there is absolutely no contest: Maltesers are far and away the superior candy. When a dessert makes me think of malted milk balls, I know it's going to stay on my list of favorites. It might take a bit of time in the kitchen, the results are surely worth it: an ideal chocolate indulgence for springtime.

Maltchoccake2

Malted Chocolate Mousse Cakes

adapted from Pichet Ong's The Sweet Spot

Makes about 8 2 1/2" round cakes

Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (45 g) cocoa powder

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

5 large eggs, separated

2/3 cup (125 g) sugar

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 up (50 g) vegetable or canola oil

3 tablespoons buttermilk

Malted Chocolate Mousse

3/4 cup (168 g) whole milk

1/2 cup (98 g) sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (37 g) malted milk powder

6 large egg yolks

1 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin, dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

5 ounces (150 g) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1 cup (226 g) whipping cream

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 11 x 17 baking pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray again. If you can find a pan with a rim at least 1" high, that's probably best – some jelly roll pans might a little too shallow.

Sift the cocoa, flour, and cornstarch into a bowl and set aside.

In stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks star to form. Add 1/3 cup of the sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue whisking medium-soft peaks have formed. Do not overwhip the whites. Scrape the whites into a bowl, and clean the mixer bowl and whisk.

Place all 9 egg yolks in the clean mixer bowl and whisk on medium until they are combined. Add the salt and remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue whisking until the mixture is pale yellow and very thick.

Whisk about half of the egg whites into th e egg yolk mixture by hand to lighten it up. Fold in the dry ingredients carefully until almost fully incorporated. Fold in the rest of the egg whites carefully.

Whisk the oil and buttermilk together in a bowl. Fold into the batter until fully incorporated.

Spread the batter into the pan and even out the surface with an offset spatula. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. The surface should be just dry and springy to the touch. Let cake cool on rack.

To make the mousse, combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat on stove over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and bubbles are starting to form around the edges. Whisk in the malted milk powder and cook until fully dissolved. Remove mixture from heat.

Whisk the egg yolks together in a large bowl. Pour in about half of the malted milk mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent the egg yolks from cooking. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and return to the stove. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove saucepan from heat and add the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Add in the chocolate and stir until fully melted and incorporated. Let mixture sit and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold gently into the chocolate mixture. The mixture may look very liquidy now but it will firm up as it cools and the gelatin sets.

When the mousse seems thick enough to spread, you can assemble the cakes. Place 8 cake rings on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Use a 2 1/2" round cookie cutter to cut out circles from the cake. You want to have 3 circles of cake for each cake ring. Place a circle of cake into the bottom of a cake ring. Spoon some mousse in. Top with another circle of cake, some more mousse, and the final circle of cake. If you have room you can spoon some mousse on top, but depending on how soft your mousse is it might make it trickier for the cake to hold its shape.

Chill cakes in the refrigerator overnight.

Unmold cakes shortly before serving them. Dust a little cocoa powder on top if desired.

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