Recipe Number Two Hundred & Sixteen
It is pretty clear when a recipe spans two pages that it won't be a five minute job. Even Mary mentions in her recipe header that this isn't a cake to tackle if you are in a hurry. I can't say that I was in any real rush but, as it was a hot day, the thought of hours in the kitchen wasn't a particularly thrilling prospect!
For a change I'd actually read through the recipe in its entirety before making a start, so I already knew that I would be unable to eat the fruits of my labour. I've rather stupidly left the most complicated recipes until the end of this challenge; it seems that a fair few contain raw eggs (it is not advisable to eat raw eggs when pregnant). If I had known that I would be six months pregnant just before crossing the finishing line I would have done things differently!
First of all I gathered up my cake tin and lined the base with greaseproof paper. I seem to spend a large portion of my time lining tins, yet I still manage to make a hash of it. This may be due to being too lazy to spend time doing it properly. I think I'm what you might call a bodger!
For the chocolate sponge I needed to melt a small quantity of butter in a saucepan and then leave it to cool. I was lucky the butter survived as it was bubbling at a frantic pace when I returned from answering the door to the postman! I was obviously making a large sponge as I needed to whisk six eggs with a substantial quantity of sugar. It took a good five minutes of whisking until the mixture achieved the appropriate thickness and moussey qualities required. It was then time to weigh out the self-raising flour and cocoa powder. To this I measured in two tablespoonfuls of cornflour. Following Mary's instructions, I sifted half of these dry ingredients into the awaiting egg mixture. Unsurprisingly the flour stubbornly refused to combine with the voluminous mixture and I grew increasingly frustrated to come across yet another pocket of unmixed flour, grr! I poured half of the cooled melted butter around the edge of the bowl and gently folded it in. I continued in this fashion with the remaining flours and melted butter. The combined mixture didn't look as chocolaty as I had envisaged; I soon discovered why when I poured it into the awaiting tin. As it made its descent from the bowl, a huge lump of uncombined flour tumbled into the tin – argh!! I swirled the unmixed mixture with a spoon as best I could before shoving it into the oven. I resigned myself to the fact that this would be a heavy cake.
While the cake cooked I took the time to make a start on the washing up before enjoying a short sit down. Thirty minutes later I was back on my feet and checking on the cake. On inspection it was still not cooked through; it ended up requiring another fifteen minutes in the oven and even then I wasn't convinced it was ready! While the cake cooled I made a start on the mousse filling.
I resisted the urge to pinch some of the chocolate as I measured it into a small glass bowl. I had plenty in stock, so I planned to reward myself with a generous helping once I had finished! The mousse would have a bit of a kick to it as I was to include two tablespoonfuls of brandy to the broken pieces of chocolate. I placed the bowl over a pan of simmering water and gave it an occasional stir. Obviously the stirring was a bit too occasional as the chocolate overcooked and became rock hard – whoops! I swallowed the tears of frustration and decided that getting cross with myself would achieve nothing! I had just enough chocolate to try again so all was not lost (apart from my cook’s perk). This time I watched the bowl like a hawk and stirred much more frequently. However, I still didn't feel entirely happy as the chocolate, although not burnt, was still a very firm lump. I had thought that it would be runny and not lumpy. I let out a big sigh and carried on with proceedings, hoping that it would all come good in the end!
While the chocolate cooled I added a little cold water to my smallest bowl. To this I sprinkled over some powdered gelatine and left it to 'sponge' for ten minutes. I then had to stand the bowl in a pan of hot water and allow the gelatine to dissolve.
I headed back to the cooled lump of chocolate and stirred in two egg yolks. The whites were put into yet another bowl to be made use of later. The wetness of the yolks helped to loosen up the solid chocolate and I started to hope that things might just turn out OK. The small quantity of dissolved gelatine helped further still – phew! My trusty electric whisk was put to use yet again to whip up the double cream. Neil was horrified by the large amount of cream and started to question whether he should eat it!! After folding in the whipped cream I moved my attention to the bowl of egg whites. They were the last ingredient needed for the mousse; this meant that it was nearly time for a sit down, which by now I really needed! After some whisking the whites were suitably stiff and ready to be folded in. Their addition to the mixing bowl made things a little tricky as the contents was now in danger of overflowing. It looked delicious, and I was disappointed not to be able to have a crafty taste.
By now the chocolate sponge was cold, so I could gingerly slice it in half horizontally. The cake tin used to cook it in had been washed and was sitting draining beside the sink. I hurried the drying process with a flick of a tea towel, and then placed half the sponge into the base of tin. Now I could pour the thick chocolate mousse over the surface; there was a lot of it and it almost reached the height of the tin. There was just enough room for the remaining sponge to sit neatly on top. It went straight into the fridge to set while I collapsed on the sofa to watch the Olympic canoeing which left me feeling even more exhausted!
Several hours later I dragged my flagging body back to the kitchen to whip up yet more double cream. A slice of this cake would surely stop the blood from flowing freely through your veins!! I took the cake from the fridge and took away the sides of the tin. Ahhhh, it hadn't set!!!! Quick as a flash the sides of the tin were shoved back on and it went back into the fridge for another hour! Thankfully this did the trick, and with the second attempt it exited the tin without complaint. Now I was able to cover the entire cake with a thin coating of whipped cream. Mary had suggested making caraque with both plain and white chocolate. I decided against this as a previous effort had failed miserably. It was also a hot day which wouldn't help. Instead, I used a vegetable peeler to make tiny chocolate curls. My goodness it was messy! My hands ended up encased in a thick layer of sticky melted chocolate! I sprinkled the pretty curls over the cream until the cake was completely coated. Talk about a chocolate overload! It actually made me feel a little sick!!!!
The cake wasn't too difficult to slice but the mousse still wasn't firmly set in the middle so was a little bit gooey in the centre. Neil tucked into his large slice with gusto. After a few mouthfuls he started to flag, and by the end he was unable to move! He said it was delicious but very rich and chocolaty. The top layer of sponge was light as a feather, but the bottom piece was heavier and fudgy. This was probably due to my poor mixing efforts! He described the mousse to be fluffy, light and not too chocolaty. The brandy flavour was just right. He could taste a hint; it wasn't at all overpowering. This chocolate mousse cake was certainly much enjoyed but definitely not something for the fainthearted or those watching their waistline!!