Three layers of flour-less chocolate cake, strawberry chocolate mousse,
topped in chocolate ganache AND strawberries.
Decadent does not even begin to describe this dessert.
This piece of heaven comes from Marcel Desaulniers, the author of
Death By Chocolate.
In his cookbook are desserts with names like, Chocolate Phantasmagoria,
Double Mocha Madness, and his signature dessert - Death By Chocolate.
This man LOVES his chocolate.
I find myself perusing this particular cookbook when I am in
the mood to make something that will overload your senses.
When I feel like creating a few minutes of euphoria that
will have you savoring the moment.
I also need a crowd.
Regrettably, this dessert has a relatively short shelf life,
and should be eaten within 24 hours of making it.
Without any further adieu...the recipe.
1/2 lb. butter (2 T. melted)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
4 egg whites
Chocolate Strawberry Mousse:
2 pints strawberries, stems removed
16 oz. semisweet chocolate
4 oz. white chocolate
6 egg whites
2 T. sugar
1 c. heavy whipping cream
Semisweet Chocolate Ganache:
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 T. butter
2 T. sugar
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
Lightly coat the insides of 3 - 9x1.5 inch cake pans with melted butter. Line each pan with parchment paper, then lightly coat the parchment paper with more melted butter. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place remaining butter and 8 oz. semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with plastic wrap. Allow to heat for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir until smooth, and hold at room temperature.
Place the egg yolks and 3/4 c. sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat on high until slightly thickened and lemon colored, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high for 2 additional minutes.
While the egg yolks are beating, whisk 4 egg whites in a large stainless steal bowl until stiff but not dry.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the beaten egg yolk mixture. Add a quarter of the beaten egg whites and stir to incorporate, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading evenly, and bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. (During the baking process, the surface of the cakes will for a crust; this crust will normally collapse when the cakes are removed from the oven.) Invert 1 of the cakes on to the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Invert the other 2 cakes onto cake circles. Remove parchment paper and refrigerate cakes for 30 minutes.
To prepare the chocolate mousse, reserve the 12 best looking strawberries to decorate the top of the cake. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree 4 oz. of strawberries (12 medium sized berries should yield 1/2 c. - 4 oz. - of puree.) Set aside until needed. Refrigerate remaining berries until needed (that includes the 12 berries for decoration.)
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 16 oz. of semisweet chocolate, the white chocolate and the strawberry puree in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover with plastic wrap. Allow to heat for 12-14 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl, using a rubber spatula to remove all of the melted chocolate mixture. Keep at room temperature until needed.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip, whisk the 6 egg whites on high until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Continue to whisk on high while gradually adding 2 T. sugar. Whisk until stiff but not dry. Set aside until needed.
Using a hand held mixer, whip the heavy cream in a well-chilled stainless steel bowl until stiff. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in the whipped cream. Now fold in the remaining egg whites. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
Assemble the 9 inch springform pan. Spread 1/2 c. of the mousse onto the cake layer in the assembled springform pan. Arrange 1/2 the amount of reserved strawberries (not including the 12 reserved for decoration), stem side down, into the mousse. The berries should be arranged in 2 rings: the first ring being 3/4 of an inch from the outside edge of the cake and the second, inside ring 3/4 of an inch away from the first. Distribute 3 c. of the mousse over the berries, being careful to keep the berries in position. Holding the pan by the top rim, gently but firmly tap the bottom of the pan2 to 3 times on your work surface to eliminate air pockets. Position a cake layer on top of the mousse, then repeat the process used on the first layer. Top the mousse with the remaining cake layer and gently press into position. Refrigerate the cake for 2-3 hours (do not freeze.)
Make Semisweet Chocolate Ganache by heating the heavy cream, butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Reserve 3/4 c. of Chocolate Ganache for decorating the top of the cake. Set aside.
Remove the sides of the springform pan (do not remove the bottom of the pan; this will make it easier to handle later). Use a cake spatula to smooth and fill in the sides of the cake with 2-3 T. of room temperature ganache. Evenly spread the remaining amount of this ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour.
Transfer the reserved ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Pipe a circle of 12 evenly spaced stars along the outside edge of the top of the cake. Place a strawberry, stem side down, into each ganache star. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.
Cut the cake with an electric serrated knife, heating the blade of the slicer under hot running water before making each slice. Allow the slices to come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Chef's Note: Give your chocolate ganache plenty of time to cool before you attempt to ice the cake. The longer it sits the thicker it will become - you don't want to try to ice the cake if the ganache is too warm or thin.
The berries I used were rather large - to do it over again, I would cut them in half to make the layers more even. It didn't affect the taste, but I ran out of room in the springform pan.