Of course I forgot to post on time for May's Daring Baker's Challenge. As ever. I actually made this near the beginning of the month. We were challenged to make a prinsesstarta, which is normally layers of sponge cake, jam, pastry cream, and whipped cream underneath a covering of bright green marzipan. This is nearly that, except that I wanted to bring it to a party that we were having for two
students doctors (yay!) in our lab who just successfully defended their PhDs. So, rather than a traditional prinsesstarta, it needed to be a mouse-shaped-prinsesstarta. Because that was relevant.
And so here it is! It's an agouti albino mouse, based on its colouring (1Rn).
Forgive me, it was my first time working with marzipan.
As you've seen before, I don't like pastry cream. So the obvious solution was to make chocolate pastry cream. Chocolate solves everything. I bought the jam at the market and the marzipan at Pete's, so this was a pretty low-effort cake. I think 98% of the effort was spent on the ears, which were eventually made by J because I suck at making marzipan ears.
Putting the cake layers together was quite straight-forward: Cake, jam, chocolate, cake, jam, chocolate, whipped cream, cake, whipped cream. I was going to forgo the raspberry jam for dulce de leche, but after a few tastings J and I decided that the raspberry-chocolate pairing was quite nice, so I stuck with it. I think that the pinky-red jam made the cake look extra pretty. I was nervous about the whipping cream falling but I shouldn't have been because it held up nicely right through the next day. Marzipan, I discovered, cracks pretty easily. In the future, I won't roll it out quite as thinly as I did here.
When it came to the eating, well. . . I've also said in the past that I don't really like cakey-cake, and sponge cake really is the epitome of cake. I prefer ice cream cake and cheesecake and flourless cake--things that are soft and creamy or dense and rich. However, this cake seemed to go over very well at the party and J was very enthusiastic about it. I liked the bits that weren't cake, so mostly I'd dissect my pieces and eat everything else. I would make it again, though, because I'd like another try at making a dome-i-er cake. I wasn't as rounded as I would have liked.
|Mouse watches the opening of the champagne.|
|Mouse suffers this first injustice.|
Piere Hermé's Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe
2 cups (500mL) whole milk
4 large yolks
6 tbsp (75g) sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
7 oz (200g) dark chocolate, melted
2 1/2 tbsp (40g) butter
I melt my chocolate in the microwave on very low power, but if you don't want to chance your chocolate seizing, do it over a double boiler and then set it aside. Prepare an ice-water bath for your pastry cream. I didn't have any ice, but a bowl full of very cold water worked out well.
Bring the milk to just boiling in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. When the milk is hot, whisk it little by little into your yolk mixture (very slowly at first, so as not to curdle the eggs) and then pour the resulting milky-eggy-sugary mixture back into the sauce pan and return to medium heat. If you're concerned about egg bits, pour it through a strainer when you transfer the mixture back to the saucepan. Keep whisking until the mixture comes to a boil (whisk, whisk, whisk*) and continue whisking at the boil for 1-2 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and pop the bowl into the ice water bath while trying to avoid getting any water INTO the bowl. At some point when the pastry cream is less hot but still hot enough to melt the butter, stir in the butter. Once the mixture is completely cool (or at least cool enough that you don't think it's cooking anymore), you can pop it into the fridge.
Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream when you cover it in order to avoid seeing a skin form.
* Apropos to this post, "whisking" is also a verb that describes the way animals feel things with their whiskers. For example, my old cats use to whisk my ears in the middle of the night. It was irritating.
|Om nom nom nom nom. So pretty.|