Friday, January 16, 2015

Mini-Mousse! (Mini-mice? Mini-meese?)

One of the things that I've realized about myself as a baker is that sometimes I get a little...obsessed with making certain dishes. I feel the need to make them several more times after I've served them up to a group of friends. I see something in my technique that I should improve, or find a different ingredient to use that will make the recipe better, or I'm just having way too much fun making it. (I'll tell you about my adventures in challah baking soon.) Such was my experience with the triple-chocolate mousse cake.

I've always adored this cake, as I think I mentioned when I posted about adding it to Michele's Birthday Mini-Big Dinner. It's a challenging and delicious showstopper and it's become something I want to get better at making. Because you never know who your wife will invite over for tea!

The secondary part of this project was to satisfy the desire to use some of my smaller springform pans. I have two six-inch pans and three four-inch pans and they don't get much use. From the two previous times I've made the mousse recipe, I had a feeling I could translate it from to any combination of the smaller springforms.

Sidebar on Pan Size Translations: To quote Rocket J. Squirrel: "Again! That trick never works!" For the most part, that's the truth; I've botched more cake projects trying to make smaller versions using the regular recipes. Either I've used the wrong pans, gotten the cooking times wrong, screwed up the baking temperature, or any made any number of other disastrous mistakes. My inspiration, though, is Bullwinkle J. Moose: "This time for sure!" And I keep trying.

Sidebar on Pan Size Translations ends.

The reason for my experimenting with the mousse was the fact that Michele and I were having two friends over for tea, coffee and dessert and I'd promised to supply scones and some kind of dessert, so I was rifling through my Swiss cheese of a memory for something appropriate when Michele reminded me that one of our guests was gluten free. I've gone around about this with myself in the past – about how I didn't know how to bake gluten free and so forth. But you know what? I can do this. I've done it before to great success. Shut up and start baking, kid! (I made sure to use my inside voice, though. No reason to spook my wife with my true decision-making process.) Once I'd calmed down, I knew the mousse would be the perfect thing to make.

The thing I was most interested in, though, was doing a better job on the bottom layer. The last time I made the mousse, the bottom layer pulled away from the edge of the springform, leaving a gap that the second layer filled. This meant that the the three-layer effect couldn't be seen until we cut the cake. I wasn't sure exactly why this happened, so I decided to change one ingredient: the chocolate. I used Ghiradelli Extra Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, with 72% cacao content. I've noticed when using this for frosting and such, that it tends to be rather oily, so perhaps that was the difference, since the recipe actually only called for bittersweet (which is a 60% cacao content).

Tasty but oily.

I bought a bunch of the bittersweet bars, since I didn't have time to search for chips. I prefer chips because they save a lot of work in the chocolate chopping department. If anyone knows of a technique for this chore, one that doesn't involve buying, or using, an electric gadget, please let me know. It seems as though I'm going to be doing more with chocolate in the future and I don't want to be bogged down with a lot of chopping. (Consider that last sentence an example of "foreshadowing". Just warning you.)

Now. Where was I? Right. The bottom layer of the mousse cake. For the most part, splitting the recipe between the six-inch and the four-inch pans wasn't much of a problem, but it was a little difficult to gauge the appropriate amounts. Next time I'll use both of my six-inch springforms or  get three more four-inch springforms. Lesson learned.

I did my best not to alter the baking time and temperature from the original recipe and, unfortunately, the result was the same as the last time I baked the full-sized cake: the layer pulled away from the edges of the pans as it cooled. On the four-inch layers, I cheated a little and pressed them down a bit before they cooled completely, which seemed to help a little. It's obvious that I'm going to have to work on this.

The other two layers went without incident and I'm finally starting to get a good feel for working with the gelatin required in the third layer. I grated some dark chocolate over the tops to add a bit of visual appeal. Et voila! Triple chocolat G√Ęteau mousse!

Three layers in four inches times three equals deliciousness! (My baking math.)

Stacked up pretty nicely, I think.

We ended up serving the six-inch version. Two of the other three went to some friends (one of whom said he was going to have it for breakfast) and the last one found its way to the desk of one of my co-workers, who pronounced it "triple-snap in 'Z' formation" good.  So, I guess I did a pretty good job with these.

Comparative sizing.

Happy as I am with how these turned out, I know they can be better. So I'll be sharing another attempt soon. This time for sure! I'll also find a linkable recipe and post it.

Currently listening to: Delilah - Shades Of Grey (SpectraSoul Remix)



  1. Martha Stewart chops chocolate with a large serrated knife. It's not as easy as buying a bag of chips but as methods go, it's better than anything I've tried.

    1. That's pretty good advice, Michael. I'll have to try that the next time I've got a chunk of chocolate to chop!