Introduction: Chocolate Mehndi Mousse Cakes

These cakes are an idea I wanted to try out using some baking techniques that were new to me. I love the mousse cakes you can get in a nice bakery with the designs on the outer cake piece. It turns out that you can do this at home and make it as simple or complex as you like!

Step 1: Materials and Planning

Joconde cake
Decorative paste:
3oz cake flour, sifted
1.25oz unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
4oz butter, room temperature
4oz powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Joconde sponge:
2oz blanched ground almonds*
2oz powdered sugar
2oz flour
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
1oz granulated sugar
1oz melted butter
*You can make your own ground almonds by processing chopped almonds in a food processor until finely ground.

Dark, Milk and White Chocolate Mousse
Pate a bombe:
4oz granulated sugar
1oz glucose (corn syrup)
2oz water
3 eggs yolks

Chocolate Mousse (measure out for each chocolate flavor):
1oz pate a bombe
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 tbs ice cold water
2 tbs whipped cream, not whipped
1.5oz chocolate, melted and cooled
4oz whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

Chocolate decorations:
1oz melted dark chocolate

Decoration planning:
Parchment paper
Google search for mehndi designs

Baking tools:
Cake pan, 14in. x 10in.
2 ring molds, 3.5in. diameter x 2in. height
2 glasses/cups
Double boiler or microwave
Mixing bowls

Step 2: Create the Mehndi Designs

Create the cake designs:
1. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of your cake pan, with a little bit for overhang on the long sides (for lifting the cake out easily after baking).
2. Measure out the the height and length of your ring molds and mark these out on your parchment paper, in the baking area. Leave room for the cake bottoms (same size/shape as if you'd use the ring mold as a cookie cutter on the cake).
3. On the underside of the parchment paper draw your design in pencil.

Create the decoration designs:
1. Cut two pieces of parchment paper the same height as the ring molds, but only half the length.
2. Draw a decoration design for the top of the cake. All the pieces of this design need to touch to support itself on the cake.
3. Put the 1oz of melted chocolate in a squeezy bottle with a fine tip or a piping bag with fine tip.
4. Place the design paper pencil side down and trace the design in chocolate.
5. Put the design in each ring mold, then place them in the fridge to set.
6. Once set, slide the parchment papers with design out of the ring molds and gently set aside in the fridge for later use.

Step 3: Make the Joconde Cake

I always wanted to know how the designs on those little mousse cakes in bakeries were made. It's a bit of a weird google search ("mousse cake designs"? "Neat looking cakes?") but I found out that it is called "Joconde Cake" and is something you can do at home if you have the patience.

Make the Chocolate Paste:
1. Sift cocoa powder and cake flour together in a mixing bowl.
2. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and powdered sugar together.
3. Add the egg whites one at a time to the creamed mixture, mixing after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
4. Add the vanilla extract to the creamed mixture.
5. Add the cocoa mixture to the creamed mixture and mix until just combined.

Draw the design with the chocolate paste:
1. Place the parchment paper down in the cake pan. The pencil drawings should be face down. Use a little bit of the paste to secure the parchment paper to the pan at each corner.
2. Put some paste in a pastry bag and pipe your design, using the pencil drawings as a guide.
3. Chill the tray in the fridge or freezer with piped design for 20 minutes or until firm.

Make the Joconde sponge cake:
1. Mix the ground almonds, powdered sugar and flour in a mixing bowl.
2. Mix in the whole eggs on high for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be at the ribbon stage.
3. Mix in the egg yolk until combined, then set aside.
4. Whip the egg whites with the sugar until soft peaks form.
5. Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
6. Stir in the melted butter. It mixes easiest if you pour a thin stream into the batter as you mix, so that it incorporates as it touches the egg mixture.
7. Fold in the remaining egg whites.

Prepare to bake:
1.Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
2. Remove the baking tray with piped cake decorate from fridge/freezer.
3. Gently pour the Joconde cake mixture into the tray, making sure to cover the piped decoration well and spreading the Joconde evenly without disturbing the decoration.
4. Bake the cake for 5-10 minutes, or until just set and the cake has very slightly changed color to golden color.

Cool the cake:
1. Dust flour on the top of the sponge then invert onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Cut in to the correct strips for the ring molds and use the ring molds to cut out two circles for the base.

Assemble the cakes:
1. Wash and dry the cake pan (or use a second one) and place two pieces of parchment paper large enough for the ring molds to sit on.
2. Place a ring mold on each parchment square. If you like, you can also line the ring mold with parchment paper to make the ring mold taller.
3. Gently place a cake strip into each ring mold so that it lines the mold with the design facing out.
4. Gently place a cake bottom into each ring mold. You will need to trim a small edge off each cake bottom to get it to fit in the ring molds with the cake strips.

Now we are ready for the mousse!

Step 4: Make the Mousse in Each Chocolate Flavor

Pate a bombe:
1. Put the sugar, corn syrup and water in a pan. Hook your candy thermometer to the edge of the pan with the tip in the mixture.
2. Heat the mixture to 240 F.
3. In a mixing bowl, whip the egg yolks until they are pale and doubled in size. They should be the ribbon stage.
4. Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg yolks in a thin stream, mixing all the while on low. The sugar stream shouldn't go directly into the beaters as this will fling sugar around. Pour just to the side of the beaters.
5. Once the sugar mixture is all in, continue to mix on high until the mixture is fluffy, glossy and thickly sticky. The bowl should be nearly cool.

Chocolate mousse:
1. Put the gelatin in a small bowl and pour the ice water over it. This is blooming the gelatin.
2. Warm the 2tbs of cream and add the gelatin mixture. Heat until the gelatin is dissolved.
3. Add this gelatin mixture to the whipped cream, folding in until incorporated but don't overmix.
4. Add in 1oz of pate a bombe, folding in until incorporated but don't overmix.
5. Add in the melted chocolate, folding in until incorporated.
Do this for each flavor: Dark, Milk and White chocolates.

Step 5: Assemble the Cakes

1. Pour in the dark chocolate mousse to about 1/3 up the ring mold for each ring mold/cup.
2. Chill for 10 minutes.
3. Now pour in the milk chocolate mousse about to the 2/3 mark on the ring molds/cups.
4. Chill for 10 minutes.
5. Now pour in the white chocolate mousse to just 1/8th of an inch over the edge of the cake ring. We want a little cake to peep out the top of the cake.
6. Chill for 2 hours.

Final decoration:
1. Gently peel the parchment paper from the chocolate decorations.
2. Place one on each cake.

Step 6: Enjoy!

Keep chilled until you are ready to eat!

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