2016 has been a weird year for me. Not a bad year, mind you, just weird. As a result, my blog posts have been a bit sporadic. I’m alive and baking, I promise! After an (unplanned) 2 month hiatus, I’m finally back.
I’ve been feeling a little bit burnt out lately, and I realized I hadn’t baked anything for myself in quite a while. As a result, I decided I’d bake something 100% catered to my own tastes. I ended up creating layered squares of almond dacquoise, blackberry mousse and matcha ganache. My husband, upon tasting it, immediately announced that I should make it into a blog entry. I was a bit surprised, honestly… I didn’t know how he’d like the flavor combinations. He kept bringing it up, though, and swearing he loved it and you guys would love it too. So, here we are!
I was tempted to call it Selfish Cake since it’s so specific to my palate, but I’m gonna go with Treat Yo Self Cake instead.
MATCHA BLACKBERRY CHARLOTTE
i.e. Treat Yo Self Cake
NOTES: Start this cake the day before you intend to serve it, as there is a lot of wait time involved. I am listing the recipes first, and at the end will include the recommended order and assembly of the cake. It’s very important you read the whole recipe through first. Winging layered mousse cakes is never a good idea!
Almond Meringue Disks
75g (generous 1/3 cup) sugar
75g (2/3 cup) almond meal
75g (2 large) egg whites
25g (3 tbsp) slivered almonds
1. Preheat your oven to 135°C/275°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and, using a 7″ cake pan/ring ring as a guide, draw two circles onto the parchment with pen before flipping it over (so the pen does not come in contact with the batter). This will be your guide.
2. In a mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat the whites, adding in the sugar bit by bit. Beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Sift almond meal over the whites and fold them in gently, taking care not to deflate the meringue.
3. Fill the batter into a large piping bag with a large round tip. In a spiral pattern, pipe the batter onto the parchment in the shape of the two circles from your guide. Optional: smooth the tops of the disks with a spatula.
4. Sprinkle the almond slivers over the top of each disk and bake them for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and dried out. They’ll be soft when hot and crisp up as they cool.
250ml (1 cup) heavy cream
250ml (1 cup) blackberry puree (if puree is not available, blend 2-3 cups fresh berries and strain thoroughly to remove seeds)
1.5 tsp powdered gelatin
3 tbsp water
50-80g (1/4-1/3 cup) sugar
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, combine the blackberry puree and sugar. Boil for a good 5 minutes, stirring frequently. At this point, taste the puree to determine if you need to add more sugar. Continue cooking the mixture until it reduces to 180ml or 3/4 cups in volume. Remove the puree from the heat and add in the gelatin while the puree is still hot. Stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature until only slightly warm, or just at room temperature.
2. Beat the cream to soft-medium peaks. Fold the puree mixture into the cream until smooth.
250ml (1 cup) milk
1 tbsp powdered gelatin
3 tbsp water
1 vanilla bean
120g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) sugar
60g (3 large) egg yolks
250ml (1 cup) heavy cream
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Combine the egg yolks and 1/2 the sugar in a medium-sized bowl and beat until lightened in color.
2. Split the vanilla bean and scrape it. Put both the scrapings and the outer part of the bean into a saucepan along with the milk and remaining sugar. Heat on low until steaming.
3. Temper the milk into the eggs as follows: mixing vigorously the whole time, add half the milk to the egg yolks a tablespoon at a time. Add the eggs back into the milk and immediately return to low heat, stirring all the while. Continue to heat and stir until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and pour through a sieve immediately to strain out any egg bits and the vanilla bean. Add in the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool to room temperature, but do not allow to set up.
4. Beat the cream to soft-medium peaks. Fold it into the vanilla sauce base until smooth.
100g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) heavy cream
200g (7.25 oz) white chocolate
1 tbsp matcha powder
1. In a saucepan, warm the heavy cream until steaming. Pour two thirds over the white chocolate. Pour the remaining third over the matcha powder in a separate bowl and whisk it until a smooth paste forms. Add the paste into the white chocolate and stir until smooth.
120g (1/2 cup + 5 tsp) sugar
100g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
40g (1/4 cup) slivered almonds
1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. You’ll be piping the ladyfingers 5″ tall. Using a ruler and pen, mark off a 5″ row (or rows, depending on your pan size) on both pieces of parchment, then flip them over. This will be your guide for the height. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
2. Sift together your flour and baking powder and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks with half of the sugar and beat on high speed until pale, fluffy and doubled in volume.
3. In a second bowl and with clean beaters, immediately beat the whites and remainder of the sugar on high until you reach stiff, glossy peaks. Fold about half of the egg whites into the yolk mixture until just combined. Fold the flour mixture into the batter until just combined (some specks of flour here and there are fine, err on the side of undermixing). Fold in the remaining whites. Be very careful not to overfold; you don’t want to deflate the eggs. Fill the batter into a piping bag with a large round tip.
4. Pipe the ladyfingers to the height of the guide, leaving about 1/8″ of space between each one. They will puff up and meet at the edges when they bake, forming a sheet. If it’s easier for you, you can also pipe them an inch apart and have separate cookies. Sprinkle the slivered almonds onto the bottom half of each row of ladyfingers.
5. Bake the ladyfingers for about 8-12 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
6. Using a sieve, gently dust the tops of the ladyfingers with the powdered sugar. Turn them out onto a clean kitchen towel and peel back the parchment and separate the ladyfingers from the parchment. Finally, flip the ladyfingers back over and cover them loosely with plastic wrap until it’s time to use them.
150ml (2/3 cup) blackberry puree, strained well to be as clear as possible
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 tsp powdered gelatin
100ml (1/3 cup) water
1. Take half of water and sprinkle the gelatin over it, set aside for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients and heat them to boiling. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved.
ORDER OF PRODUCTION/ASSEMBLY
You will need…
7″ cake ring (link below)
4″ tall acetate strips (link below)
Large piping bag
Large round tip (I use Ateco #806 or similar, link below)
Ribbon of choice
Blackberries for garnish (optional)
1. First, make the meringue disks. Use the 7″ cake ring to cut the edges of the baked meringue disks down to perfect size. Clean the cake ring and line it with acetate. Set the cake ring on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
2. Make both the bavarian cream and blackberry mousse. Place a meringue disk into the cake ring. Pour your blackberry mousse over the meringue and gently jiggle the cake ring to level it out. If the mousse is too firm to level out on its own, smooth it with a spatula. Carefully place the second meringue disk on top of the mousse. You want the meringue disk to be a perfect fit so the second mousse layer can be poured on immediately. Pour on the bavarian cream and place the cake in the freezer for 4 hours or until hard.
3. Make the ganache. While the ganache is still fluid, pour it onto the cake. Place the cake in the fridge and chill until the ganache is set. In the meantime, make the glaze. Once the ganache has set and the glaze is warm and fluid but not hot, pour the glaze onto the ganache and return the cake to the fridge. (Don’t be like me: let the ganache get completely firm before you unmold!)
4. Make the ladyfingers. Measure the height of your cake, then trim the ladyfingers down to be about 1/2 inch/1cm taller than the cake. Remove the acetate from the cake and wrap the ladyfingers around the sides. If necessary, feel free to trim off individual ladyfingers to fill in the space and make it a full wrap.
5. Wrap a strip of ribbon around the charlotte and trim it to fit. Using a toothpick, pin the edges of the ribbon together. Using another strip of ribbon, tie a bow and secure it onto the edges of the ribbon with another toothpick. Serve.
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