Monday, 3 March 2014

Chocolate Praline Mousse Cakes

You don’t have to ask me twice to cook with chocolate, so when I heard about Godiva’s fantastic challenge to create “the best ever chocolate dessert whose presentation, creativity and texture reflects the craftsmanship and excellence of Godiva”, I knew all stops would need to be well and truly pulled out.

When it comes to the “best”, chocolate and hazelnut is a combination that’s hard to beat. It’s a stalwart classic for a reason and if you’ve ever tried one of Godiva’s hazelnut praline truffles, you’ll be hard pressed to disagree.

Chocolate and hazelnut praline is, for my money, unbeatable in the flavour stakes. Rich, luxurious and satisfying, if chocolate and hazelnut are together on any menu, I can guarantee I’ll know what I’m having for pudding before I’ve even bothered choosing a starter.

I wanted to create an elegant and sexy dessert, with layers of flavour and texture, but also something that I could enjoy with my gluten-dodging boyfriend.  Making this pudding gluten-free was no compromise at all. The base cake is a deliciously nutty and moist wheat-free chocolate cake, soaked with Frangelico before being topped with a layer of white chocolate and hazelnut mousse. I used Godiva’s excellent range of chocolate callets to ensure my dessert had the requisite luxury and complexity of flavour. They melted so evenly and easily and from now on I abjectly refuse to return to chopping blocks of chocolate ever again.

On top of the white chocolate and hazelnut mousse, I smoothed over a layer of liqueur-spiked chocolate topping enriched with egg yolks and double cream. I then enrobed the mousse cakes in pouring ganache and patted the sides with praline for texture. Finally, I decorated their tops with caramelised hazelnuts and chocolate leaves – or bunny ears, as I like to think of them. Well, Easter isn’t too far off now, so I couldn’t resist…

If you want to enter Godiva’s fabulous chocolate competition, you can’t fail to find inspiration from their website.

Chocolate and Praline Mousse Cakes

Makes 8 rectangular moulds, 8cm(l) x 4cm (w) by 3cm (d).

For the cake base

50g hazelnuts.
4 medium eggs, separated
75g caster sugar
2 tbsp. hazelnut oil
¼ tsp. salt, plus a pinch
50g cocoa, sifted

Plus Frangelico for soaking

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line a 12 x 8-inch roulade tin with baking parchment.

Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor as finely as possible and set aside until later. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar to the ribbon stage. Add the hazelnut oil, salt, cocoa and ground hazelnuts and mix in thoroughly. Fold in the egg whites with a large metal spoon until the mixture is streak-free. Pour into the prepared roulade tin, level the top with a palette knife and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cold, use the metal moulds to stamp out 8 rectangles of cake. Place the moulds on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and press the cake into the bottom of the moulds. Use a pastry brush to soak the cakes with Frangelico.

For the white chocolate and hazelnut mousse

1 gelatine leaf, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
70g of Godiva white chocolate callets
1 tsp. caster sugar
100ml of double cream
1 egg, separated
1 tbsp. hazelnut paste
2 tbsp. hazelnut liqueur (I used Frangelico)
A pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.

In the meantime, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, but not dry. In a separate bowl, lightly whip the cream. Set aside both bowls until later.

Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the melted chocolate. Stir until dissolved and remove the chocolate from the heat. Whisk the egg yolk, hazelnut puree and sugar into the chocolate, followed by the cream. Fold the egg whites into the mixture with a large metal spoon until fully incorporated – be careful not to knock the air out of the mousse.

Pour the mousse into the moulds, leaving a gap of around half a centimetre from the top. Tap the baking tray firmly on the work surface to level the mixture out. Pop in the fridge for at least an hour.

For the chocolate topping

40g dark Godiva chocolate callets
20g butter
1 tsp. hazelnut oil.
75ml of double cream
15g of light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp. Frangelico
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk

Place the chocolate, butter and oil together in a heatproof bowl. Stir the cream and sugar together in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat and once the cream begins to scald, pour it over the chocolate and butter. Leave for a minute before mixing together until the chocolate and butter has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the salt and Frangelico and whisk in the egg yolk.

Take the moulds out of the fridge and pour the chocolate topping over the top of the white chocolate and hazelnut mousse, right to the top. Pop back in the fridge for a further hour and then transfer to the freezer for half an hour.

For the pouring ganache coating

200g Godiva dark chocolate callets
250ml double cream
75ml water

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the water and cream together until it scalds and pour over the chocolate. Leave for one minute before stirring until all the chocolate has melted and you are left with a pourable glossy ganache. Take the frozen moulds out of the freezer and heat the edge of the moulds with a blowtorch to release it and slide the moulds off. Place the mousse cakes on a wire rack over a tray lined with baking parchment and pour over the ganache until each rectangle is completely covered. Leave to stand for half an hour until the excess chocolate drips off and the ganache just starts to set.

For the praline

200g caster sugar
100ml water
¼ tsp. white wine vinegar
100g hazelnuts

Put the caster sugar, water and vinegar in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil over a high heat and boil without stirring for 3–4 minutes or until it turns a deep caramel colour.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the nuts. Tip the mixture on a baking parchment lined sheet and level with an oiled palette knife. Leave to cool completely. Break into pieces and blitz in the food processor.

Press the praline against the edges of each rectangle and then pop them all in the fridge to set completely.

For the caramelised hazelnuts

50g caster sugar
8 blanched hazelnuts
8 cocktail sticks
Some blu-tack

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 

Place the hazelnuts on a tray and roast for a few minutes just to warm. Insert the tip of a cocktail stick into each nut.

Heat the sugar, without stirring until it completely dissolves and turns into a deep caramel. Place the base of the saucepan in cold water to prevent the caramel from continuing to cook. Leave for a minute or so until the caramel is thick. Place the blu-tack in 8 small balls underneath a cupboard or similar. Place a piece of baking parchment underneath to catch any drips. Dunk the nuts in the pan and lift them out so there is a caramel tail and stick the other end of the cocktail stick into the blu-tack. Leave the nuts to drip and set hard.

For the chocolate leaves (or bunny ears)

100g tempered dark chocolate
An acetate sheet
A longish knife for dipping

Simply dunk one side of the knife tip into the tempered chocolate and press it onto the acetate to create a leaf. Repeat. You can leave them flat or lean them against a plate or similar so that the leaves slightly tilt back. Leave to set.

Remove the mousse cakes from the fridge and place two leaves at the back of each mousse cake at a slight angle before placing the caramelised hazelnut on top. Serve.