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I love making various mousse cakes for special occasions. On the ever expanding mousse recipe list I have added this version. A Neapolitan ice cream translated into a delicate mousse cake. The recipe in this post may seem lengthy, but it’s rather a quick operation. The recipe is broken down into five parts for quick execution. I am particular about recipes like this for their ability to be altered, taking bits and pieces for other dessert creations.

If you prefer a chocolatier base for this dessert you can use your own chocolate cake recipe or use this chocolate cake recipe. The chocolate sponge is slightly drier than an average cake. Would simple chocolate liqueur syrup add a tender moistness to the sponge, most definitely?

The crowning glory of this dessert is the chocolate glaze and chocolate curls. Artistic renditions in chocolate have always been an amazement of mine. A medium that can take many forms from imitating supple drapes of velvet to the mirror like finishes of tempered chocolate.Chocolate Sponge Cake

1 cup pastry flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup whole milk

1/3 cup safflower oil

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Prepare a 12”x8” pan by coating with butter and line with parchment paper. Whisk together pastry flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt together. Set aside. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup combine milk, oil, egg yolks and vanilla extract. Beat egg whites in another bowl until frothy, add cream of tartar. Continue beating until egg whites have reached soft peaks. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Continue whisking for a few minutes. Fold in half of the egg whites. Repeat with the remaining whites. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula, bake for 18 minutes. The sponge cake is done when it springs bake when you press the center. Cool for a few minutes and invert onto a parchment lined cooling rack.

Once the cake has cooled it is time for a quick trim and setting up the “frame.” The recipe here makes an eleven and a half inch by seven and a half inch base. The only reason I have trimmed the cake is for a neater profile.

The “frame” is the framework the mousse will use to create the cake. Using cake board material cut out two 7 ½ inch by 2 ¾ inch pieces and two 12 inch by 2 ¾ inch pieces. Tape the edges together creating a frame that will wrap around the cake. Trim where needed so the cake fits just inside.

Vanilla Mousse

4 cups heavy cream

1 cups granular sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

½ cup cool water

½ cup heavy cream, slightly warmed

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cool water and allow to bloom. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat just before soft peaks form. The consistency will still have soft peaks but they droop a little more. You want to stop at this point because the folding in of the gelatin will work the cream further. Heat the gelatin over simmering water. You want it to be hot enough to activate, it should take a few minutes and the gelatin will dissolve. Remove from heat and warm the remaining cream. The cream should be slightly warmer than room temperature. Combine the gelatin and warmed cream. Pour this mixture over the whipped cream and fold in. Next, pour vanilla mouse over the cake and spread evenly. Chill for an hour to set mousse.

Strawberry Mousse

3 cups cream, whipped to soft peaks

1 ½ cups strawberry purée

3 ¾ teaspoons gelatin

¾ cup water, cool

Bring strawberry puree to a boil and remove from heat; cool. Don’t skip this step; the acids in the fruit need to be cooked a bit so the cream will not curdle. Place gelatin over the cool water and allow to bloom. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the cream. Beat until soft peaks form as before. Heat the gelatin over simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the warm strawberry puree. Next fold the gelatin/puree mixture into the whipped cream and spread onto the vanilla mousse already completed. Chill cake again until set.

 

Chocolate Glaze

 

½ cup cream

½ cup granular sugar

2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted

1 ½ teaspoon honey

 

½ cup cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the cream, sugar, butter and honey in a small saucepan until melted. Sift in cocoa powder and stir until smooth; stir in extract. Set aside. If the glaze is lumpy, strain.

Remove the cake from the chiller and run a warm knife around the cake to remove the cake board; discard. The cake can be moved to a serving platter with the use of spatulas. Better yet, place the cake and frame on the chosen platter for ease. Spread the chocolate glaze over the top allowing it to run over just a bit. Decorate with chocolate curls.

 Chocolate Curls

1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Melt chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water until melted. Pour the chocolate over the back of a sheet pan that has been warmed slightly and spread thinly. Place the pan in the refrigerator until cold. Now this is the tricky part of making the curls, but one that you will find out to be a breeze. Bring the pan out and place it on the work surface. Allow the pan and chocolate to warm up a bit. Try testing if the chocolate will curl by using a spatula to scrape the chocolate off the pan. If the chocolate is to cold it will chip and if it is too warm it will melt on the spatula. Once you are able to make curls, scrape away and place them on a wax paper lined pan immediately and chill until they harden.

Now that you have a pretty dessert ready for you guests, you can cut it up into twelve nice size pieces. Dip a sharp knife in hot water to make clean slices. Something I like to do with desserts with decorations is to place them in the center of each piece so that the carving of the dessert doesn’t damage the decorations such as the chocolate curls.

So that concludes my recipe for Neapolitan mousse cake, hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

I don’t usually find myself baking up cupcakes for the fun of it, but I will gladly make them for those who love them. This post is an impromptu recipe for chocolate cupcakes filled with cream and glazed with chocolate. The chocolate glaze part of this recipe is a secret creation that works better than the standard ganache most of us glaze desserts with. This chocolate glaze remains glossy and supple even right out of the fridge.

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 ¼ cups granular sugar

¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

¾ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ rounded teaspoon baking powder

a few grates of nutmeg

1 ½ cups hot water

2 Tablespoons espresso powder

¾ cup vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

preparing the batter:

1. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, sea salt, ginger, nutmeg and baking powder.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture.

3. Add vegetable oil, vanilla and eggs.

4. Combine hot water with espresso powder.

5. Whisk until a smooth batter forms; gradually adding in the espresso.

filling the cups:

1. Place 2-#40 scoops of batter in each cup.

2. Bake one pan at a time in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.

3. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

4. Cool for 10-15 minutes in pan then transfer to a wire rack.

Once the cupcakes are cool, cut a hole in the center of each as if you were coring a tomato. Next, scoop out a little more cake with a melon baller. Set cupcakes aside and prepare the crème chantilly.

 

Crème Chantilly

1 ½ cups heacy cream

¼ cup sugar

Crème Chantilly is a fancy French name for sweetened whipped cream. Place both ingredients in a bowl and beat until cream has formed stiff peaks. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with whipped cream. Pipe enough whipped cream so that it over fills the tops of the cupcakes. Remove the excess cream using a spatula recreating a smooth top, chill.

Chocolate Glaze

½ cup cream

½ cup granular sugar

2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted

1 teaspoon honey

½ cup Dutched cocoa powder, sifted

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat cream, sugar, butter and honey in a small sauce pan until melted and warm. Whisk in cocoa powder and vanilla extract until smooth, strain through a fine mesh sieve.

To glaze the cupcakes, dip each one face down until chocolate glaze touches the baking cups. Allow excess to drip off for a moment and invert back onto a sheet tray. Repeat with all cupcakes and chill until chocolate glaze sets. Repeat process one more time for a nice even coat. The process is repeated because the first coat may melt some of the cream filling and show through. Chill cupcakes again.

Melt 2 ounces of white chocolate and fill a pastry bag fitted with a fine round tip. Simply sweep the tip over the cupcakes back and forth. The tip should remain a half inch above the cupcakes.

These cupcakes are best served at room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator one to two hours before serving. Delicious!

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