Black Forest Gateau
Specialty Equipment: vacuum machine, water bath, digital thermometer, ice cream machine, home decorating tool, paint spray gun
Specialty Ingredients: glucose syrup, malic acid, yellow pectin, invert sugar syrup, gelatine 170 Bloom
Days: 2 (1 if you’re nuts, couple of hours if asking for trouble)
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
Some time ago I made two dishes with a couple of friends. We didn’t have is too easy, but decided the next time we should make a crazy ass recipe, like the Black Forest Gateau or the lamb recipe. This week it was time for the next round. We had the same time frame, one day (actually a bit less, more on that later), but the party changed to two (me plus one).
On top of that I thought it would be fun to send out e-mails asking if anyone would like to taste our soon to be materialized cake. The result: 11 reviewers of our attempt. The stress kicked in (at least for me) when we started on judgment day at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and only had 5 hours to finish the recipe without proper pastry equipment! The beers from the night before didn’t help. Luckily my friend has a couple of years of restaurant experience under his belt, and attacked the dish, pushing components out one after another.
Making it for a lot of people meant we made one big cake. What changed to the recipe is the kirsh cream or white chocolate mousse on the outside of the gateau. We just made a layer of the mousse, and didn’t let it enclose other layers as seen in the picture below. In one large ‘mould’ it is not doable.
Also, there a fewer pictures than normal. Sorry about that.
The first thing on the list was the kirsch ice cream, which had to mature for a couple of hours. It is made by beating together egg yolks and sugar for 5 minutes, bringing it to 70˚C, holding it there for 10 minutes, cool it and before churning it mix it with sour cream and kirsch.
The base of the gateau is a crumble mix, similar to the ones often used for cheesecakes bases, consisting of an almond paste, chopped almonds, milk chocolate, amarena cherries and caramelized puff pastry.
Rolling the base to the dimensions of the shoebox we used as a mould. Life would be so much easier with a couple of pastry moulds.
Weighing down on the base is a chocolate ganache. I usually heat cream and pour it over chocolate, but here we had to work very carefully, adding the cream in three stages with the use of a hand-held blender.
Between the base and the ganache lies a thin strip of apricot pâte de fruit. To make it ‘spreadable’ it has to be blitzed after it has set to create a smooth gel.
Next up was the aerated chocolate. The freaking aerated chocolate! During the Mandarin Aerated Chocolate recipe I had some problems making it, because I didn’t pay close attention to my siphon. This time we heated it from the inside, but only used 200g of chocolate, which is not enough. By far. It just sticks to the inside of the canister, leaving you with a tiny amount of chocolate to aerate. So after the first attempt we filled the canister to full capacity (500g), gave it two charges and released the chocolate in a plastic container in the vacuum machine. What do you think? It bubbled up like crazy, although we had to pull a vacuum below the instructed 250mbar. Success.
It looked like this. But. The dreaded but. We were pressed for time, to put lightly, and had to release the vacuum after about 1 hour. Although it is instructed in the book, we didn’t feel comfortable releasing the pressure, because the chocolate didn’t look entirely set. However there were 11 hungry eaters waiting for us, so we had to. And damn, the chocolate collapsed slowly, but surely. I hate working with chocolate! There always is something that goes pear-shaped.
While still oblivious to future chocolate failure we pressed on with the chocolate sponge, the mousses and the wood effect. Like I said before, it was a blessing to make the recipe with my friend, he really kept the momentum going. The chocolate sponge is finished with griottine cherries. I had some left from the foie gras dish, so we used frozen ones and added a bit of the syrup of the amarena cherries to sweeten them.
The white and dark chocolate mousses are made in the same way: melting chocolate, whisking egg yolks and sugar, combing the yolks with heated milk to create a thin custard, dissolve gelatine in the custard, mixing it into the melted chocolate and finishing the entire thing with lightly whipped cream.
I didn’t really prepare this recipe as I do others, check if something needs to made far in advance or if there are some hidden specialty ingredients or equipment, so it came as a surprise we needed a home decorating tool for the biscuit to make it look like wood. As a solution we used a (new) hairbrush, a funky fork and a regular fork. I must say some pieces looked quite good.
The day after we ate this dish I had no idea if we had pictures of everything. Unfortunately we didn’t take any of the gateau under construction. So, here it is in full, ready to be cut in pieces. The chocolate mousse on top was just set, so the entire thing was not frozen, making it hard to cut. There was also no time to finish it with the flocage (a chocolate and cacao butter layer sprayed on with a paint spray gun).
On to the gateau after some time to finish it properly, to do justice to the work we put in. I tried to finish it with the flocage using a plant sprayer to no avail. Instead of droplets of chocolate the sprayers spewed out rivers of chocolate (I checked the sprayer with water and it worked fine). With rock hard failure on my side I just coated the gateau piece in the chocolate mixture and finished it with cacao.
Wow, this stuff is heavy. We almost knocked everybody out with the dessert. With the first bite I knew I was never gonna be able to finish it. I think the two main reasons are the portion size of our gateau and the percentage of white chocolate mousse. We had just a layer of the stuff, while in the schematics of the recipe the mousse takes a more central role. Something to watch out for if anybody is going to make it.
It was however delicious. Everybody liked it, but I don’t think loved it. Maybe the sheer impact of the cake hindered a true appreciation of all the flavors.