This is a dessert I've had sitting in the recesses of my mind for some time now, but have been waiting for the proper excuse to make. Easter seemed like the perfect time, what with eggs being so central to the festivities, so I held onto it until it finally rolled around.
One of my favourite things to do is to make food look like something it's not. It's been some time since I've done that 'trick food' so I couldn't wait for the excuse to delve into this one.
But really, who needs Easter to enjoy trick food?
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.
Just what every Christmas needs…
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…
Death By Chocolate…
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.
He’s not just a pretty face…
Unlike almost every other week of this challenge, I actually have no idea where this recipe book came from. It may have been another op-shop find from years ago, or it may have been one my mum had and never used and ended up leaving for me. It's so tiny that it was hidden amongst my much bulkier books, long since forgotten. But while digging through recipe books looking for one to try this week, I found it and decided to have a flip through.
This one is Margaret Fulton's "Book of French Cooking". After a few savoury challenges, it was time to pursue the dessert section once more.
I didn't get much further than the Mousse à l'Orange. A sweet mousse without chocolate?
I was intrigued…
I said that I wanted to bake my way through this chocolate cookbook, and I totally mean it. The cake recipe used for both the gateau forestiere and the jungle cake was from that book, as is the following recipe. It's wonderful.
I prepared this mixture in advance, but we ended up having a super hot weekend and so on the night I constructed this for dessert, the vanilla layer began melting all over the place. So there went my grand plans of having a perfectly chequered parfait. But what it's lacking on the aesthetic side it certainly made up for it in taste.
This recipe gives you the freedom to choose your favourite berry. I used strawberry for both the parfait and the sauce. I also sieved out the seeds for a nicer texture. Alternatively, you could prepare two berry layers (such as raspberry and blackberry) if you want a multi coloured/flavoured parfait.
Recipe and assembly instructions…
When my sister’s birthday approached she requested one thing: for a cake that involved mousse. Challenge accepted!