Dark chocolate has a melting range from 28℃ (82℉) to 45℃ (113℉) (for white chocolate this is 24℃ (75℉) to 40℃ (104℉) and for milk chocolate 27℃ (81℉) to 40℃ (104℉). This basically means that the crystallization process of the chocolate on molecular level starts on different temperatures for different parts of the chocolate. By tempering chocolate you make sure that the crystallization of the chocolate at all the different temperatures is combined which results in a beautiful crisp chocolate with a hard crack. Later more on how to temper chocolate.
We are going to do the opposite of tempering chocolate to make foldable chocolate sheets for a beautiful espresso mousse cheesecake.
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Step 1: The Things You Need
150 gr Dark chocolate (for foldable chocolate)
250 ml Cream (for lavender cream)
1 tbs Dried Lavender
50 gr Butter
100 gr Flour
100 gr Pecan nuts
150 gr Sugar
pinch of Salt
2 ts Honey
30 ml Water
100 ml Cream (for cheesecake)
9 leaves Gelatine 200 gr Monchou
100 gr Dark chocolate (for cheesecake)
50 gr Caster sugar
6 Egg whites
1 Lemon slice
375 gr Raspberies
100 gr Dark chocolate (for tempering)
Unusual but necessary items:
Sheet of metal
Smooth stone or metal surface
Filling knife (or spatula with a sharp edge)
Step 2: The Foldable Chocolate
Melt chocolate au-bain-marie by placing the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. We do this to make sure none of the chocolate gets burnt or reaches a temperature of 50℃ (122℉), since the chocolate will start to separate and form little grains at 50℃ (122℉).
Pour the melted chocolate over a thin metal sheet and spread it out so the layer of chocolate is about 1 to 2 mm thick. Place the sheet in a freezer until frozen. Take the sheet out of the freezer and let it get to room temperature, this may take an hour or longer depending on how cold your freezer is. The process can be sped up by waving the sheet above a hot flame (metal side towards the flame) but be very careful not to melt the chocolate. When you are not very experienced in working with chocolate I would recommend just taking your time.
The chocolate is now foldable! Scoop up strips of the chocolate using a filling knife to place around a cake or pastry, or make small rolls which you tighten at the bottom to make flowers. Unfortunately the chocolate doesn’t have the same properties as modeling chocolate, fondant or marzipan because it’s still chocolate and will melt if you hold it in your hands for too long since they are warm.
Step 3: Lavender Cream
To infuse cream with lavender simply place the cream and lavender in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to cook. Turn down the heat so the cream will only just bubble and let it simmer for half an hour so all the oils of the lavender get a chance to get into the cream, stir every now and then. Put the cream though a fine sieve and if necessary again through a very fine tea sieve, so there are no grains of lavender left. Set in the fridge to cool until needed, this will be a small layer on top of the cheesecake.
Step 4: Base of Our Cake
For the bottom of our cake we make a pecan/caramel crumble base.
Mix the flour, salt and 50 gr of sugar. Add the egg and 100 gr of butter and mix using a fork to get a crumbly consistency. Place the crumble on a baking tray lined with baking paper so you can pour the caramel on it in a moment. Place the remaining sugar with the water and honey in a saucepan over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Use a wooden spoon to stir so your sugar won’t burn. A metal spoon often gets too hot and becomes an additional source of heat for the solution, which unnecessarily complicates things.
Let the solution bubble until it turns amber and keep stirring every now and then. Use a brush with water to melt sugar crystals when they form on the sides of the pan, so your caramel won’t crystallize and turn into a toffee. Pour the caramel on parts of the crumble and bake in a preheated oven on 180℃ (356℉) for 20-25 minutes.
Roast the pecan nuts in a hot pan until they start to give off a strong/earthy nutty smell. This is because nuts in general are quite oily and by roasting them you make sure all those oils come free and are activated.
Let the crumble and the pecan nuts cool down a bit and blitz everything in a food processor. Melt 60 gr of butter and mix with the crumble. Line the bottom of a springform with baking paper and place the mixture in the tin. Press the crumble down so a nice and even bottom is formed. Set aside in the fridge.
Step 5: Chocolate/espresso Mousse Cheesecake
Now finally onto the main component of the cake: the filling.
Let the gelatine leaves soak in water.
Melt chocolate au-bain-marie and add monchou, caster sugar and strong espresso. Stir until a smooth mass is formed and take off the heat. Squeeze the water out from the gelatine and add the gelatine to the mixture, stir until fully dissolved.
Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold half of it into the chocolate mixture, make sure the mixture has cooled down a little bit before adding the whipped cream because it will collapse otherwise. Fold the mixture into the other half of the whipped cream.
Whip egg whites into white peaks in another bowl, rub a bit of lemon juice on the inside of the bowl beforehand to make sure your egg whites will come up nicely. Fold half of the egg whites into the mixture. And again fold the mixture into the other half of the egg whites. We do this to make the mixing easier so there is a lot of air in the mixture without any lumps.
Pour a part of the filling into the springform, add raspberries and pour in the rest of the filling. Put in the fridge for at least two hours to set.
Step 6: Tempering Chocolate Without a Thermometer
It might seem a bit complicated at first but with a bit of practice and patience you will make the most beautiful crisp chocolate. Ideally you would work in a room with a temperature of 18℃, because of the melting and setting temperature of chocolate.
Melt the chocolate au-bain-marie, this way the chocolate will have a temperature of 45℃ (113℉) when everything has melted. Pour ⅔ of the chocolate onto a smooth stone surface (if you don’t have a piece of marble or something similar, a metal surface is fine too). Cool the chocolate down by spreading and scraping it together until it “feels cold” and has reached a temperature of around 27℃ (81℉). It’s important to keep the chocolate moving during this process so it will all cool down evenly.
Pour the cold chocolate into the bowl with the warm chocolate and mix. You will have to mix it quickly but not too wildly to prevent air bubbles. Pour the chocolate into a piping bag and make some decorations on a piece of baking paper by pouring it into shapes. If you have tempered your chocolate properly it will set in minutes at room temperature so there is no need for a fridge.
Step 7: Assembling the Cake
Now everything finally comes together, take the cheesecake out of the springform.
Whip your lavender cream into stiff peaks and spread it on top of de cheesecake. Take a strip of your foldable chocolate from the metal plate, with a width of about two times the height of your cake and place it around the sides. Fold the upper part inwards to the center of the cake. Use the remaining foldable chocolate to make flowers or other shapes to fill the top of your cake. Use your tempered chocolate shapes to further decorate your cake and dust with some powdered sugar for a finishing touch.
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Science of Cooking