Pastry is not one of my strong points and when I received this call from a client for a quote on 30 individual cakes for a Valentine’s Day Tea, I nearly gave it to someone else. However, I though, come on, this is my opportunity to really challenge myself in this section of being a chef and decided to go for it! After meeting the client, got a brief from her, she wanted an individual little cake for each lady that was decadent, filled with chocolate, but she asked me to really put a surprise inside the cake as well, something that will WOW the ladies!
After much thought and eating a box of Lindt choclates, which became my inspiration, and nearly again asking someone else to do the cakes, I decided to do a lovely Madeira cake base. Why a heavy Madeira cake would you ask? Because it is a bit denser than a sponge and I love the texture of the Madeira cake and instead of drenching it with a lemon syrup I drenched it with a rum syrup. I also baked it in a swiss roll pan in order to allow me to press little rounds out of it. After each round was pressed and placed inside a mould, I covered it with some homemade strawberry preserve. I then added a layer of the dark chocolate mousse, cut a round of crème brûlée, smaller than the mould and about 1cm thick, and placed it on top of the mousse layer. This coffee and vanilla flavoured crème brûlée was my surprise inside the cake. It is this creamy little round inside that lifts the dark chocolate and adds that dimension you would get when you bite into a Lindt chocolate, pure bliss! I then filled the rest of the mould with more mousse and placed in the fridge to set for 24-hours.
Then came the huge test, will they hold their form once removed from the moulds? The first bunch I experimented with was a total flop, somehow my mousse didn’t set and when I removed the moulds they almost immediately collapsed onto themselves. I had to start all over again! Anyway, the second set was a huge success, they set beautifully and I could handle them to roll in the white chocolate shavings. I gave the client 10 of each decoration as in the photo to this post and needless to say the client loved it and her guests as well. I am still getting orders for my Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake with Crème brûlée inside two weeks after Valentine’s Day! I would say that is enough proof that it worked?
Here is what I have learned: We need to push and challenge ourselves sometimes otherwise there remains nothing to learn anymore. I am sure glad I did it, it gave me the confidence to know I can do it and it removed a little of my fear for sweet pastry. In fact, pastry is such fun and I had so much of it while making these little cakes. And flops, they help us to become fearless kitchen warriors!