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Lavender Rose Petal White Chocolate

This is not the final version but it’s close enough that this photo can be a placeholder for now. The cake wall will be lavender and white, but it will probably be lavender diamonds against white. This is one of my newly-piped summer coating decorations… which hasn’t bent over from the heat… at least not in the first five minutes. Note that the white chocolate ganache on the top has begun to flow. My newer version of the ganache is a bit more stable in the heat.

I just received a bag of professionally crystalized rose petals to use on the final version, but I’m still waiting for the decorating grill to make the diamond cake wall.

You probably can’t see it here, but there are a couple of flecks of gold on the top. I ordered $35 worth of pure (edible) gold flakes but I have no idea how many flakes are actually in the box because it’s opaque and they don’t make noise when you shake it. I think they weigh a gram, so it could be a lot because they’re so light that they get caught on wind currents when you try to shake them out of the holes and there’s no way you can get them to hit the cake. You have to put them onto waxed paper and flick them one-at-a-time onto the cake top. There’s probably a better way but I haven’t found it yet. It’s a bit of work, but I think we all need to eat a little gold at least once in our lives and Kris and Shaun’s wedding is a good time to do it.

Rosemary Lemoncello Mascarpone

This one was finalized (approved by Shaun) and photographed today.

The trickiest part was getting it photographed before the chocolate decoration melted. Due to the rather hot weather we are experiencing here in Southern California, real chocolate turns to putty in a matter of minutes and a puddle soon thereafter. My next piping session will be using chocolate colored summer coating to make the decorations.

Choosing the cake wall is what gave me the hardest time. I tried green and white but it looked like a watermelon with the strawberry glaze on top. That would have been a surprise to bite into. I also tried other variations of white and yellow that didn’t work so I tried brown and yellow, which worked… but we liked this one better.

The mousse filling is made with mascarpone and lemoncello. There’s a frozen rosemary cream insert that defrosts in the center of the mousse and leaves a rosemary accent. The lemon wedges are crystalled. Even the fresh rosemary tastes good in this combination but I suspect most people won’t try it.

The really bad part about this project is that I ate half of the cake while I was cutting the cake walls yesterday. I like to believe that scrap calories don’t count, but I don’t want to test that theory too thoroughly. I’m pretty relieved that the tasting part is almost over… I say almost because there is still of tray of them in the refrigerator. Help!!

Chocolate Chipotle Mousse Cake

I finalized the mini Chocolate Chipotle Mousse Cake first. This is a very chocolately mousse with a hint of chipotle. The cake wall is chocolate with a tinted orange relief design. The top is covered with a poured ganache (not the best example of a smoothly-poured top, but the only one left to photograph). This is a dahlia petal on top, but most likely we’ll be using marigold petals. It also has a textured wafer of chocolate, cocoa nibs, and a sprinkle of chipotle powder on top. Beware!

Strawberry Lemoncello Mousse

With only a few weeks left to the wedding… (aargh!) I began working with what I had at hand to translate the cakes flavors into mousse cake creations. I made these with some leftovers from the first lemoncello mousse.

Fruit Tarts

We prebaked pastry shells then put pastry cream on the bottom and glazed fresh fruit on top. A light sprinkling of sucraneige gives them that frosty look (sucraneige is a powdered sugar that doesn’t melt into the glaze… hmm).

Petite and Large Mousses

This is a Chocolate Whiskey Mousse Cake baked in a dome-shaped mold. A black ganache is poured over the top and flows down the sides as it freezes to the mousse. Then we decorated it with lattice piped chocolate pieces and sugared hazelnuts. This photo doesn’t show the shine, but it was beautiful!

Here is the tray of delightful mousse cakes I brought home to Shaun and Kris. After 6 hours in the car they didn’t look quite this good, but they were still good enough to inspire them to want them for their wedding.

Here we have a Lemon Blackberry Mousse Cake. It has a purple wave design cake wall and a frozen blackberry insert in the center of the lemon mousse. The insert defrosts with the mousse and adds a highlight of blackberry to each bite. We made the gold-starred chocolate wafers on a transfer sheet. Simple and delicious.

This Raspberry White Chocolate Mousse Cake has a insert of frozen raspberry in the center of the white chocolate mousse. The cake wall is made on a relief mat using a colored decorating paste and then a cake layer over that.

Off to the right you can see the Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake that we sprayed with chocolate. This cake has a creamy frozen mint insert at the center.

Chocolate Mint Mousse

I love this photo. It totally captures the spirit of our week. Vivien is taking a turn at using the paint sprayer to spray a velvety chocolate coating on the Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake and Cakelets.

This is a standard paint sprayer from the hardware store. Brian assured us that it had never been used for paint. When I asked if there was a specific type of sprayer we should ask for, he suggested that it should have “Power” somewhere in the name. This one did… standing less than two feet away from your target could blow it right off the pan. Well, at least it felt that powerful.

Somehow I didn’t get a close-up of our finished mousse cake, but here are some little volcanic petit fours molded from the same mousse and power sprayed while frozen. That’s a candied hazelnut glued to the top with chocolate and a square of that delicious pastry we used for the strawberry tarts on the bottom.

Parisian Macaroons

Aging gracefully… the Parisian Macaroon. Here we have an almond meringue, piped into circles and baked. The colors represent the flavors, but there is actually no flavoring in the meringue. The flavor comes from the ganache center which is piped onto a cooled meringue circle and topped with another circle. Then they are put into the refrigerator to soften and soak up the flavor of the filling. Heavenly!

The flavors here are caramel raspberry, chocolate, pistachio, coffee, and lemon. This is absolutely the best possible thing to do with leftover egg whites. It’s easy and makes a stunning gift in a cellophane bag tied with a gold ribbon. And they only get better with age!

The Ultimate Challenge

So we had the lecture on chocolate. The secret to tempering chocolate is never do it in a room hotter than 70 degrees or cooler than 60 degrees… unless you are doing it at SFBI on the day they are stoking up the hearth oven for bread and pizza. Oops, sorry this is the real world.

Brian had set the chocolate to melt overnight in a special chocolate warmer so we had a headstart. And even though the temperature of the kitchen was increasing, we began the process of tabling (cooling part of the melted chocolate on a granite slab then stirring it back into the remaining melted chocolate). We also seeded a batch (adding unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate to align the crystal formation to produce the “right kind” of crystals… the ones that make chocolate shine and snap.) Brian showed us how to test the temper on a piece of paper so we’d know when it was ready for use.

We poured the melted chocolate into rigid plastic molds, let it drain out to form a thin (not thick) shell, and then set them on a rack to cure in the molds overnight. We could see already that the temper was right in spite of the less than perfect conditions in the kitchen. There were no white bloom streaks or grainy gray areas where the cocoa butter rises to the surface. Brian has spent a lot of time with chocoate and knows how to coax those crystals into alignment.

The next day we piped our fillings into the chocolate shells–coffee, lemon, pistachio, raspberry caramel, and dark chocolate ganache leftover from the Parisian Macaroons we’d made earlier in the week. We let the fillings sit to settle and develop a crust on top. The final step was to close them with more tempered chocolate. This was an incredibly messy job that required a bit of finger licking prior to hand washing at the end.

When the bottoms were set, we tapped the molds on the table to release our perfect chocolates. I gave everyone little boxes I’d folded the night before to put their candies in.