Help with Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake
I've been asked to bring this cake for Easter (I know, not a very Easter-like recipe!) and the last time I made this, I had a problem with the execution. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and is absolutely divine. It starts with a layer of flourless chocolate, which is cooled and topped with chocolate mousse. The cake is chilled again and topped with a final layer of white chocolate mouse. The recipe suggests baking and assembling in a springform pan. The cake is chilled in the springform pan and the sides of the pan are removed before serving. Here's my problem -
I baked the first layer and the flourless cake pulled away quite a bit from the sides of the pan. So the second layer, chocolate mousse, was at risk of "dripping" over the sides of the 1st layer. I had to jury rig some parchment paper around the bottom layer (inside the springform pan) to prevent the 2nd and 3rd layers from falling over the sides of the cake. This turned out to be a pain because when I removed the parchment before serving, the sides of the cake were still a mess, so I had to clean up the cake by cutting off some of the sides. Hope this is making sense to everyone...
Any tips on how to prevent the flourless cake layer from pulling away from the sides of the pan?
Can you transfer the base layer of cake to a slightly smaller sprinform before adding the mousse layers? I'm not sure how to prevent the cake from shrinking, but this might be a work-around solution.
Were there cracks on the top, too? It's most likely you overbaked the cake layer, too much time or too high a temperature. Maybe your oven temperature gauge isn't accurate or you considered the cake done when fully dry in the center but maybe the degree of done-ness is just set in the center, still fairly moist.
You may be able to just smoosh it out if it shrinks again. Do make sure your batter is spread all the way to the edge of the pan, sounds basic but some batters don't just flow on their own and you have to put them exactly where you want them in the pan.
It sounds a lot like a recipe my mom had made at a recent family event. She asked me to cut it, which was a total PIA since the cake was thoroughly stuck to the bottom piece of the pan. One thing I would recommend for easier cutting is to bake the cake on parchment, remove the cake layer from the pan and flip it over so the crusty/dry top side of the cake becomes the bottom. Peel the parchment off the sticky side which is now the top and proceed. Now the dry side won't stick to the plate and you'll be able to serve nicer pieces.
Another thing is finding ways to cover up things that aren't so pleasing. If you feel like your outer edge is unsightly, just press on some chocolate shavings (from a bar, with a vegetable peeler) or toasted almonds slices or coconut chips. (coat with simple syrup before toasting to candy). You'll still get the dramatic two layer presentation when cut, with the bonus of an extra garnish.
re: babette feasts
Thanks everyone for the tips. The last time I baked this cake was Christmas, so I honestly can't remember exactly how the bottom layer came out of the oven, i.e. whether it was cracked, but it's entirely possible that I overbaked. I'll pay more attention to that. Will also make sure I spread the batter to the edge of the pan.
I do have another flourless choc cake recipe that calls for a water bath. I think I'll try this one more time without the bain marie and see how that goes.
And i LOVE the idea of pressing choc shavings to the outside edge. Great idea! Hopefully, I won't need it... but great idea if I do.
I've made this recipe (or at least a version of it, as the recipe I used cited the CI one). I didn't have any problem with the cake shrinking, but my final version didn't look as even in terms of the three layers as the one I saw a pic of. I put berries all around the base of the cake, as well as on the top, with the top middle filled with chocolate shavings. Delicious.