Happy New Year!
While everyone else is jumping on the green smoothie program right now and ladling out bowls of nourishing soup, I thought it best to start the new year with chocolate cake (sorry, not sorry) … because what better way to leap into 2015 than with chocolate mousse on your tongue?
Also known as Concorde Cake, this Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake is a symphony of exquisite textures, with layers of light-as-air, crispy cocoa meringues alternating between blankets of velvety dark chocolate mousse. Broken batons of meringue decorate the cake and make it a stunner worthy of any special occasion.
I first came across this cake when I was in culinary school. We were deep into “Egg Week” and were looking for ways to practice our piping skills, so this cake was the perfect project.
It will never cease to amaze me how versatile eggs are. Heat them just so and you get a custard. Whip up the whites and you have the start to a lofty souffle. Bake those whipped whites low and slow and you have crispy meringues. Add a heated sugar syrup to them and you’re on your way to making a pâte à bombe, the basis of sweet delights like French buttercream and yes, mousse!
Sure, you can make a perfectly enjoyable mousse by folding in whipped egg whites and whipped cream into melted chocolate, but if you’re willing to break out the thermometer and go through the fuss of the whole whip-a-hot-sugar-syrup-into-your-eggs step, trust me, you will be handsomely rewarded with a texture that is just ethereal.
This Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake is one of those recipes you’ll be glad to have in your arsenal. I’ve made it for fancy dinner parties and I’ve even made itty bitty mini versions like the ones I did for my itty bitty nephew last year.
Like all great party recipes, you can make the cake in advance — either as separate components or fully assembled. I personally love the contrasting texture of this cake the day it is assembled, but if you assemble and keep it in the fridge a day in advance, the meringue will soften slightly and meld together with the mousse. You’ll end up with a texture that is like the chewy, crunchy edges of a brownie pan (everyone’s favorite part!).
This cake isn’t the easiest or the fastest dessert you can make. It requires a little effort, a little patience, but one bite of this decadence and it’s all worth it. I have a feeling that’s what 2015 will be like — putting in the work, and hopefully reaping the reward.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2015? Whatever they are, we wish you a bright and shiny new year full of sweet successes and plenty of chocolate cake!
Also known as Concorde Cake, this chocolate cake is a symphony of exquisite textures, with layers of velvety, dark chocolate mousse melding together with light-as-air, crispy cocoa meringues. Broken batons of meringue decorate the cake and make it a stunner worthy of any special occasion. (Adapted from the San Francisco Cooking School, inspired by Francois Payard).
- 8 large (8 oz) egg whites
- 1 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (58 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups (283 grams) 60-70% dark chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 cups (454 grams) heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Whisk the egg whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while whisking, and continue to whip the meringue until stiff, glossy peaks form.
- Sift the cocoa powder into the mixing bowl and fold into the meringue until evenly incorporated.
- Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (#806 works well), or ziplock bag with a corner cut off.
- On parchment paper-lined baking sheets, pipe the meringue into three 8-inch rounds, piping in a spiral circle. If you’re using half sheet pans, you should be able to fit two rounds per pan (they can be close to each other since they shouldn’t spread as they bake).
- With the remaining meringue, pipe as many meringue sticks as possible, about 5 inches long.
- Bake at 250°F until crisp, about 1 hour. Cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate and salt in a large bowl over a bain marie. (To make a bain marie, find a large saucepan where the bowl will sit comfortably without touching the water. Bring the water to below simmering point — you should see steam forming but there should be no bubbles in the water, or only one or two lazy bubbles.)
- Meanwhile, in a mixer bowl whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until frothy. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water to 248 F. Pour about a third of the liquid sugar into the eggs and mix on medium-high for about 30 seconds. Repeat two more times, stopping to add the sugar syrup each time. Then crank it to high until the eggs are light and airy, like marshmallow fluff, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bowl of chocolate from the bain marie. Fold the egg mixture into melted chocolate. (I realize that the whole egg and sugar step is a bit fussy, and you could technically skip it, but if you go the whole nine yards on it, you will be handsomely rewarded with a texture that is just ethereal.)
- Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the chocolate mixture.
- Set aside enough mousse to frost sides and top. With remaining mousse, divide in half and assemble layers of meringue and mousse into a 3-layer cake. Chill to firm. Spread remaining mousse over top and sides of cake.
- Press meringue sticks along the side of the cake. You can keep the meringues uniform, or I like a more rough, staggered look. To do this, I cut two different lengths of sticks and then place them alternating short and long.
- Chop the remaining meringue sticks randomly and fill in the top of the cake.
- Chill the cake before serving, and finish with dusting of powdered sugar before serving if you’d like. A serrated knife works best when it comes to cutting the cake.
Make Ahead Note: I personally love the contrasting texture of this cake the day it is assembled, but you can also make it and keep it covered with plastic wrap in the fridge a day in advance. The texture will change a bit — the meringue will soften up slightly and meld with the mousse better.
Alternately, you can make the meringues and mousse a day in advance and then just assemble day of. If you go this route, keep the meringues on the baking sheets after they’ve cooled and wrap well in plastic. Keep the mousse in an air-tight container in the fridge.
This cake also freezes well, just let it come to room temperature before serving.
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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