It’s been quite a long time since I’ve played around with a joconde. I have a terrible habit of getting stuck on one idea: I’ll bake almost nothing but that for weeks, and then forget it ever existed for a year. So when my birthday rolled around and I had the opportunity to make whatever I wanted with no restrictions, I decided it was time to return to this awesome cakey medium.
So far I’ve mostly used decorating combs for making patterns in the joconde paste. I’ve been wanting to use the sponge as more of a canvas for unusual designs. You always see them with uniform designs on the sides, but I wanted something a bit more picturesque. I had a number of food stencils, but all were a bit bland for what I was thinking. I hit up my favourite cake decorating store and started rummaging through the stencils until I finally found something that was more ‘me’.
I'm not sure who gets more excited about these chocolate ripple cakes more: me about making them, or my family about consuming them. Either way, this mutual excitement makes the process even better.
Chocolate ripple cake has such a welcome place on the Australian Christmas dessert table. It's also something that's quick and easy to make and a process I'm familiar with. It's ideal when made a day in advance and needs no finishing touches before serving. That made it a perfect candidate for our Christmas feast. This cake was one of the two main desserts I made for Christmas, alongside the macarons and pudding truffles for nibbles.
This version featured the familiar chocolate poinsettia on top, but I gave the joconde sponge a little twist.
There's little around the house that remind me that Christmas is coming as well as the sign of my poinsettias beginning to bloom. Around mid-Spring their leaves begin to turn red, reminding us that December is not far away. Despite their traditional use in Christmas floral displays, the brightness of the red remind me of everything I love visually about the festive season. Red is my favourite colour. I love it's vibrancy, it's warmth and its festivity. While my Christmas tree decorations are always blue and silver, but my place settings are always red and gold. Red reminds me of time with family and loved ones, sharing joyful conversation over good food.
It wouldn't be Christmas without poinsettias. It wouldn't be Christmas dessert without edible poinsettias.
Last Thursday was my sister's 21st birthday. It was a given that I was going to make the cake. I told her with a week to go to have a think about what sort of cake she wanted. She had no idea. It's harder to think of ideas when you're not a baker – you're much less aware of the possibilities.
A few days out I became resigned to having to work it out myself. Almost as soon as I came to this resolution, she piped up with, "I know what I want! A chocolate ripple cake!"
". . . really?" I replied.
My heart sunk a little. I'd been looking forward to the opportunity to create something whimsical, test some new skills, have some license to create. Of all the things I could make, she chose the easiest cake in the entire world.
Well, the birthday girl has to get what she wants. But, me being me, I couldn't stop at making just any old ripple cake…
I've been wanting to try a joconde imprime for years. I'd always been a bit intimidated by it, so I filed it under O for "one day" and never gave it any serious thought. But when this months theme challenge on was "layers", I knew it was high time I gave this a go. I'd been looking for an excuse to do another honeycomb topper anyway and had been searching for the perfect dessert to do it with.
I knew I wanted the joconde to be patterned with chocolate stripes, but it was the entremet I couldn't decide on. There were just so many options. I'd tried a dessert with chocolate mousse and layers of honeycomb before, but the honeycomb dissolved and the beautiful layers I'd imagine became one disjoined, albeit delicious, mess. I was chatting to my boyfriend about this first world dilemma when he said, "What about bumble bee mousse?"
I felt like I was in my very own Old El Paso commercial.