Rei’s original dessert was one that I was pretty happy with both in terms of flavor and appearance. It did feel a bit plain compared to the later desserts though, so I made some key changes. First of all, I added some layers of chocolate meringue into the mousse balls for extra texture. I also put the whole shebang onto a riser of sorts made of an almond cake.
Y’all, this almond cake is my favorite part of this dessert. It’s really more like a blondie… dense, a little crumbly and really flavorful. It went exceptionally well with the mousse, but I’ve remade it just on its own and eaten it as a sort of almond-flavored cookie/brownie… thing. It’s not fluffy or cakey really, but it sure is delicious.
This version of my spun sugar garnish should also be a lot easier to understand thanks to added gifs, in addition to being visually more elegant. I hope you love this upgraded version of Rei’s dessert!
CHOCOLATE CAYENNE MOUSSE FOR REI
Yields: 3 mousse spheres.
Timing Notes: For maximum ease of assembly, do the the baking the day before making and decorating the mousses. Be sure to set aside 2-3 hours so that you can chill your mousses.
Cayenne Pepper Chocolate Mousse [Recipe Below]
Cinnamon Toffee [Recipe Below]
Chocolate Dacquoise [Recipe Below]
Almond Cake [Recipe Below]
Spun Sugar Spirals [Recipe Below]
10 oz. tempered dark chocolate or dark chocolate candy melts
6 oz. tempered white chocolate or white chocolate candy melts
Red, Yellow and Gold Powdered Food Coloring
Vegetable oil, as needed
Vodka, Everclear or Other Clear Liquor (for painting)
1. Ready your melted, tempered white chocolate. NOTE: You may do a “faux” temper by adding in a small amount of vegetable oil (roughly 1 tbsp per fluid cup). Split the white chocolate in half and dye half red and half yellow using the powder colors. With clean hands, use your fingers to paint streaks of yellow and red into your dome molds. Make the smears horizontal so that they run alongside the seam of the mold. Smear in a little gold leaf as well, though we will be adding more later.
2. Melt and temper your dark chocolate, or use a faux temper again. Coat the demisphere mold with the dark chocolate. You can either brush it on, or spread it on with a spoon. If your chocolate is liquidy enough, your best bet is pouring it in and swirling it around for a nice even coat. Once you’re done, use an offset spatula to level off the tops. Place a sheet of parchment over the wet domes and carefully flip them so they firm up face down.
3. Pipe about a tablespoon of chocolate mousse into each demisphere, then top it with a circle of dacquoise. Pipe on more mousse to just below level, then place the mousses in the fridge to set. Once the mousse has firmed up, carefully demold each demisphere. Pipe a small bulb of mousse into the center of 3 of your demispheres.
4. Gently heat a pan in your oven or stove. Pick up one of the demisphere you did not pipe more mousse onto and touch the edge of it to the warm pan to melt the edge slightly. Quickly join the melty-edged half sphere to one with the mousse piped in and gently press it to glue together. If you want, you can use a bit of dark chocolate to close up any holes in the seam. Return the sphere to the dome molds to set.
5. Pull out your almond cake rounds, toffee bits and melted dark chocolate and prepare a sheet of parchment. Dip the base of each almond cake round into chocolate about halfway up, then roll the sides in toffee. Place on the parchment sheet to set completely.
6. Place each almond cake round on your serving plate. Using a dab of chocolate, adhere the chocolate mousse spheres to the tops of the almond cake rounds. Place a spiral of spun sugar on top and serve immediately.
SPICY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
1 tsp powdered gelatin
30ml (2 tbsp) water
120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
175g (6 oz.) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (for spicier mousse, double this)
300ml (1 1/4 cup) heavy cream
1. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water and let sit 5 minutes to bloom. Heat the milk to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Pour hot milk over gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add finely chopped chocolate into hot milk mixture and let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk together until the chocolate is totally melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Once the chocolate mixture is no longer hot, fold the cream into the chocolate mixture. Fill into a piping bag and store in the fridge until ready to use.
CINNAMON TOFFEE BITS
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
30g (1/4 cup) butter
1 small pinch salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Combine all ingredients except for the cinnamon in a saucepan. Stir together and then cook until the mixture turns light brown. Pour the hot toffee onto parchment paper or a silicone mat and allow it to cool. Dust with the cinnamon.
2. Once cool, use a knife to coursely chop up the toffee.
ALTERNATIVE: Toss store-bought toffee bits with a little cinnamon.
100g (light packed 1/2 cup) brown sugar
30g (1/4 cup) butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla
100g (just over 3/4 cup) cake flour
75g (just over 1/2 cup) almond flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
30g (scant 1/2 cup) slivered almonds
1. Preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F and line a 9×9″ square cake pan with parchment. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and almond meal until smooth. Finally, fold in the slivered almonds.
2. Spread the batter into your cake pan evenly and bake for 20-25 minutes or until set at the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
3. Using a 3″-3.5″ pastry cutter, cut rounds out of the cake. You will have more than 3, but those are just extra nibbles! Place the rounds in an air-tight container and freeze for an hour or two to solidify.
75g (generous 1/3 cup) sugar
50g (2/3 cup) almond meal
50g (1.66 oz) grated dark chocolate
75g (2 large) egg whites
1. Preheat your oven to 135°C/275°F. Line a 9×9″ square pan with parchment.
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. Finally, fold in the grated dark chocolate in the same manner.
3. Spread the batter into the pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. Peel away the parchment paper and use a 1.5″ pastry cutter to cut out 6 rounds (plus extra if you want). Keep in an air-tight container until time to assemble.
SPUN SUGAR GARNISH
60ml (1/4 cup) corn syrup
150g (3/4 cup) sugar
50ml (3 tbsp) water
1. Have a rolling pin read to mold on later. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir together and set them on medium heat. Once you put the syrup on the heat, do not stir it! You may swivel the saucepan slightly if you need to mix it further.
2. Cook the sugar to 300°F, using a candy thermometer or a cold water test. (To do cold water test, drop a bit of sugar into a cup of cold water. If it forms threads that snap and break when bent, the sugar is ready.)
3. Once the sugar reaches 300°F, remove the saucepan from the heat. Swirl it gently until it cools enough that it begins providing resistance.
4.Dip a chopstick or spoon into the sugar and pull it up. You want the sugar to be cool enough to form thick threads. Once it does, use a fork to pull a string of sugar upward and swirl it around the rolling pin a few times.
5. Wait a few seconds to allow the sugar to set up, then carefully ease it off the rolling pin. Use immediately.
The spun sugar technique may take some practice, but once you have it down it’s a cinch! Additionally, don’t be scared to apply a little heat and re-soften the sugar if necessary. You don’t want to melt it all the way and risk browning it further, but 10 seconds over a flame here and there will soften things up so you can keep on curlin’!
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