Like many of you, I sat in front of the telly last Wednesday night, eyes glued, mouth agape when Adriano Zumbo walked onto the set of Masterchef with his Chocolate Mousse Cake. Because it was so divine and so damn unattainable, I decided to attempt the near-impossible recipe – and I used Mr. Taste’s birthday as my excuse to do so.
Now, Adriano was not kidding when he said the cake’s difficulty was 10 out of 10. While I was happy with my cake overall, I did have problems putting it together. The biggest issue with the recipe was that it was incomplete: parts of the method was missing, for instance, it doesn’t tell you that you need two pieces of jaconde for the cake and extra for the decorative piece on the outside.
This is why I made sure I studied the recipe in detail before I started. I also worked on substituting the more obscure ingredients with simpler replacements, such as using blackberry jam instead of making the blackberry ganache from scratch.
And so, here it is, my interpretation of the Zumbo Mousse Cake. It looks nothing like the original, but I do believe it hits all the right taste notes!
Note: For those of you thinking of attempting this recipe, I highly recommend getting a few extra pairs of hands with you in the kitchen. This way, you can separate the recipe and work on the layers simultaneously. I also recommend you work on the mousse first, to allow it to set properly before assembly (see below for why).
1. Pate sable cinnamon
285g cold butter cubed
185g caster sugar
375g plain flour
2g ground cinnamon
1/4 scraped vanilla bean
2. Texture apple tatin insert
4 granny smith apples, peeled & diced
350g caster sugar
3 granny smith apples, peeled & diced
1 orange zest
6g fresh ginger (leave in large bits)
50g caster sugar
3. Salted caramel layer
300g caster sugar
5g gelatine leaves
125g butter unsalted
2g sea salt flakes
4. Biscuit decor jaconde
Cigarette decor paste
50g egg white
50g icing sugar
30g plain flour
60g plain flour
40g butter melted
200g almond meal
200g icing sugar
180g egg whites
90g caster sugar
5. Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse
125g blackberry pulp
12g inverted sugar
50g caster sugar
6g caster sugar
3g pectin nh
200g 64% dark chocolate
60ml liquid strained black tea
145g blackberry ganache (see recipe above)
60g 64% chocolate
400g whipped cream soft peaks
6. Chocolate spray
500g dark chocolate
350g cocoa butter
500g white chocolate
Pate sable cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 160°c.
2. Add butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon and vanilla to a food processor and process to fine crumb. Add egg, mix till it comes together. Tip mixture onto bench and knead lightly. Roll out on a sheet of baking paper until 7 – 8 mm thick. Place ring mould over pastry and cut around outside edge, remove excess outer pastry.
3. Transfer pastry and ring mould on baking paper to an oven tray and bake until lightly golden.
Baker’s notes: I found this pastry incredibly hard to work with. It is important for the butter to be really cold – anything warmer actually melts the dough. I wish I had known this at the start as I ended up using double the required amount of flour in order to balance out the stickiness of the dough. That said, when baked, my sable turned out fantastic – less than 8mm, firm but not brick-like.
Texture apple tatin insert
1. Dry caramelise the sugar, emulsify the caramel with the butter. Add the apples, cook until the apples are translucent and caramel in colour. Cool mixture.
1. Peel & dice the apples. Add butter, orange zest, & ginger to a pan and cook until aromatic. Add sugar & apples. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, add calvados & flambé. Cool mixture.
2. Mix the 2 apple mixtures together. Place in a silicon mould. Place in blast freezer until set.
Baker’s notes: I decided to only make PART A of the textured apple tatin insert. While the resulting texture was lovely, I couldn’t help but think that I may have overcooked the apples as the caramel sauce was quite bitter. Please keep a close eye on this one!
Salted caramel layer
1. Heat cream. Place sugar, glucose, water in a saucepan, cook to caramel colour. Deglaze sugar with cream. Add gelatine. Cool to 50°c. Add butter and blitz.
2. Place in a silicon mould and place in blast freezer.
Baker’s notes: Apologies for the missing photos here – I was too scared of getting a sugar burn that I forgot all about my camera. This was the first time I made caramel and did so quite successfully. The resulting caramel was beautifully smooth and velvety. I couldn’t find gelatin leaves in my local supermarket so I had to use the soluble kind. I reduced the amount of water required to compensate for this.
Biscuit decor jaconde
Cigarette decor paste
1. Mix all ingredients together.
1. Melt butter. Whip eggs, icing sugar, and almond meal together. Whip egg whites and sugar together to form stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into egg almond mixture alternating with butter & flour.
2. Preheat oven to 160°c.
3. Place cigarette paste on tray, swirl pattern with fingers. Place in freezer. Using a pastry scrape or palette knife spread cigarette paste with a thin layer about 3mm thick of jaconde. Bake until lightly golden. Cool.
Baker’s notes: I didn’t attempt the cigarette décor paste part of the jaconde. However, I did find the jaconde recipe to be very eggy. I think 4 eggs is plenty for this recipe.
Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse
1. Heat blackberry pulp in a saucepan, add sugar and inverted sugar, bring to the boil. Add extra sugar and pectin.
2. Pour mixture over chocolate in a bowl, stir until smooth. Cool to 40°c, add butter and blend with a stick blender.
1. Place tea, sugar & eggs in a bowl over simmering water (bain marie) and whip to form a sabayon. Melt chocolate, mix in cream. Fold in blackberry ganache, gently fold in sabayon.
Baker’s notes: While this is the last layer in the recipe, I really think it is important that the mousse is made first so it can set. My mousse turned out very watery and was not firm enough to fill the cake with. If only I had that blast freezer! I didn’t attempt the blackberry ganache part of the mousse but my blackberry jam was an easy and effective replacement.
1. Temper chocolate see method below. Cool to 40°c. Add cocoa.
2. Place in spray gun.
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl. Add more chocolate stirring until melted, until the temperature of the chocolate reaches approximately 32°c (dark chocolate), approximately 30°c for milk or white chocolate. The chocolate should be tempered. To test, use a small square of silicon paper & dip in chocolate, place on bench (cool place), the chocolate should set at room temperature.
2. To temper the cocoa butter melt in pot on stove, then pour onto a clean work surface to cool rapidly (around 32°c), add colour as soon as you pour the cocoa butter on table and work with the palette knife. When cool, brush on clear plastic provided working left to right, and keep brushing until cool in same direction to obtain brush strokes. Cover in tempered white chocolate, and cut and shape to desired finish. Place on top of cake as desired.
Baker’s notes: Without a spray gun at my side, I decided to attempt the chocolate spray with an atomiser bottle instead. Unfortunately the mixture was too thick to yield an even spray. All I got were lines of chocolate drizzle. This gave me the idea of decorating the top with a web of chocolate drizzle. I would’ve dusted cocoa powder over the top to seal everything in, but I ran out of the time for Mr. Taste’s birthday party.
Layer of mousse in bottom of mould
Layer of salted caramel from silicon mould
Layer of jaconde
Layer of mousse
Layer of apple tatin from silicon mould
Layer of jaconde
Layer of mousse
Baker’s notes: I know you’re meant to assemble this recipe upside down, but unfortunately, without a ring mould, I had to do it the right way up. It didn’t turn out too bad. I did have problems with the mousse though. Because it was so runny, it didn’t hold anything together and only made the layers slip apart!
The cake survived a 40 minute drive to the party and I was very nervous about cutting it apart. But when I did, I was pleased to find that all the layers had stayed in place. Plus, seeing all that gooey caramel was definitely a bonus!
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