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Friday, 14 December 2012

After Eight Chocolate Domes - Along with a few very useful baking Lingo & Techniques

While it is way more simple to fill a Candy Jar with Mint Candy and serve them after dinner, it is way more impressive and satisfying to serve these mints in the form of a home-made dessert. Kind of like: it is way less hassle to serve a take out menu! But nothing beats the feeling of serving an impressive, five-star festive dinner, entirely home-made! Otherwise, it would be way more relaxing to just Reserve a festive dinner at one of the many fabulous restaurants; in the same sense as: who needs the mess at home?! But we all like to gather up at home, we all like Aunt Jane's Turkey, we all want childhood memories, so we all go the extra mile in the festive season. 

Since we are going all out this festive season, and making sure to put our cooking talents on display with the carefully selected menus, it is only fitting to include these beautiful servings of after dinner mints. Yes, it is a bit of extra work, but I know there are lots of you out there who will settle for nothing less than a completely home-cooked festive dinner that is absolutely impressive.

These After Eight Domes look fabulous and the rim of assorted mini chocolate balls lends them a more festive feel. The mixed chocolate cigarillos on top of the domes tie up the look together, making the domes even more festive. These domes are delicious, with luscious servings of chocolate cake and Bavarian Mint Mousse, all encased in a Dark Chocolate Ganache. Ah! Heavenly!
These will cool and refresh your palate, while also satisfy your sweet tooth. Much better than the medicinal overpowering flavour of those candy mints!

With that said, not everyone is into the flavour of mint in desserts. If you or your guests don't fancy minty flavours, then don't worry, I have gone for fresh mint instead of the menthol essence - menthol essence is very powerful (go for the essence if you really want that minty flavour). The use of fresh mint will make this dessert slightly minty but not overly. However, and if you still prefer not to have mint at all, just omit the mint leaves, and you will end up with a vanilla and chocolate flavoured dessert. Not many will argue with that option!

Please note that because this dessert includes multiple steps of prep, I would advise you consider the required time, and make it over a couple of days. Day 1, prepare all the parts. Day 2 assemble and leave to set. 

Ok, so let's do this...

You Need
makes 12 domes

For Coocoa Genoise (Chocolate Sponge)
340 g (11 oz) Sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted
90 g cake / pastry flour
60 g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
8 eggs

For Mint Creme Anglaise
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup double cream
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds)
45 g caster sugar

For Bavarian Mint Mousse
1 cup Mint Creme Anglaise
3 sheets Gelatin or (1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin)
1 cup Heavy cream, warm
1 cup Heavy cream, cold

For Chocolate Ganache
1 cup double cream
350 g dark chocolate roughly chopped
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds)

For Chocolate Buttercream
125 g icing sugar, sifted
30 g cocoa powder sifted
150 g butter, softened

For Garnish
Mixed Chocolate Cigarillos
Assorted mini chocolate balls
Melted white chocolate for drizzling

Required Special Equipments

  • To get the dome shape in this dessert you need to use a half-sphere silicon mould (follow the link to buy online). However, if you do not have one, and can't find one, you can use cooking rings, ramekins, or pliable plastic strips to shape your dessert. Just mind you unless using the moulds your dessert will not be round-shaped, but rather cylindrical, which is fine if no moulds are to be found.
  • Round cookie cutter, the same size of your mould, or ramekin/ring...etc. To cut cake disks.
  • Piping Bag fitted with a star tip to pipe the base for chocolate Cigarillos.
  • Squeeze bottle or chocolate piping bag to drizzle melted white chocolate.

Start by baking the cocoa Genoise.
Cocoa Gemoise Sheet

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard size jelly roll sheet with baking paper and set aside.

In a double boiler, combine the eggs and sugar together. Using a wire or heat-proof rubber whisk, whip the eggs & sugar continuously together until the sugar dissolves.

Technique - Double Boiler: The idea is to cook on steam. Therefore, the water in the bottom part of the double boiler must not touch the bottom of the top part. Heat source is the steam from the boiling water. This method is usually used in cooking delicate foods such as eggs and chocolates...etc.

Place the egg mixture in a bowl of an electric mixer & whip on high until they reach the ribbon stage.

Lingo - Ribbon stage batter : Ribbon is when you lift the beaters and a stream of the batter falls down in a steady motion forming ribbon-like lines on top of the batter in the bowl. 

Reduce the speed to very low and mix in the the butter and sifted dry ingredients, until just combined. Do not over beat. Pour the batter onto the lined sheet and 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted at the centre of the cake. Cool thoroughly.

Meanwhile Make the Mint Creme Anglaise.
Combine the milk, cream, vanilla seeds, pod, and chopped mint in a saucepan and place over medium heat and bring to just a boil (keep an eye on the mixture as it will rise when boiled). Just before the mixture is hot, combine the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl.  Once the milk mixture has boiled, temper the egg and sugar mixture.

Technique - Tempering eggs: Once the milk mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat and pour 1 ladle of the mixture into the eggs and sugar mixture while continuously whisking. This is to temper the eggs, so that you do not end up with lumps of scrambled eggs in the cream mixture.
Pour the tempered egg mixture into the hot cream mixture and return to the heat. Cook stirring continuously until thickened and the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Strain into a clean bowl and chill completely.

Technique - Custard Spoon Test: Is when the cream mixture coats the back of the spoon, creating a steady layer of cream that does not slip off the spoon. The layer should stay separated should you pass your finger down the centre.

Half-sphere Silicon Mould

Once the Mint Creme Anglaise has completely chilled, make the Bavarian Mint Sauce.
heat 1 cup heavy cream and set aside. Meanwhile Soak the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes or until the sheets are soft. Remove the sheets from the water and gently squeeze to remove excess water. Place the sheets in the heated cream and stir to dissolve. Once dissolved, leave the cream to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Once cooled, whip the gelatin cream mixture, together with the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream in a chilled bowl, using chilled beaters. Beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold in 1 cup chilled Creme Anglaise until combined. Fill 12 holes of half-sphere mould with the Bavarian mint Mousse and set in the fridge for 4 hours.

Lingo - Soft Peaks: These are peaks that curl up when you remove the whisk instead of standing stiff.

Technique - Chilled Bowls & Beaters for whisking: Using a chilled bowl and beaters when whipping cream, speeds up the whipping process and prevents the cream from separating and curdling.

Make the butter cream by mixing all the ingredients together until combined and fluffy. Place the buttercream in a piping bag, fitted with a star tip and set aside until ready to use.

You have made it! All that is left is assembling the dessert :)

Drizzle the ganache over the cake disks making sure to cover the sides too.

To Assemble
Make the Ganache,
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the whipping cream to just boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla seeds. Add the chopped chocolates (do not stir); let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool for 10-15 minutes.  It should be at pouring consistency, but not too hot.

In the meantime, using a cookie cutter (same size as your mould), cut 12 disks out of the cocoa genoise. Place the disks over a wire rack fitted inside a baking sheet (to collect the dripping Ganache). Pour over the ganache to cover the tops and sides of the cake disks. Gently remove the Bavarian Mint Mousse domes from the moulds (it should be a matter of flipping the mould over, as the silicon moulds are non-stick). and top each ganache covered disk with a Mint dome. Repeat until all cake disks have been topped with mint domes. While still placed over the wire rack, pour the dark chocolate ganache over the domes making sure to cover all the sides including the cake disk. Repeat until all have been covered. Reheat the ganache if necessary, cool and repeat the process one more time for a thicker cover. 

Melt the white chocolate and place in a squeeze bottle or piping bag. Drizzle all the domes with the melted white chocolate. Place in the fridge to set for 1 hour.

In the meantime, collect the ganache drippings from the sheet and place them in a bowl.

After the domes have set for an hour, remove them from the fridge and brush around the bottom with the reserved ganache and place the chocolate balls to make a rim around the bottom. Pipe a star at the top of each dome and place a chocolate cigarillo on top. Transfer to serving dish and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Serve cold & Be proud that you made them ;)

Don't toss those mints just yet! Why not use them
to create this simple yet very festive centrepiece -
which I found on Trendy Tree and completely adore?
You had been warned!
Told ya I was to bring some action into your kitchens this festive season :) 

The internet is full of simple recipes from cookies, to cookie cutouts in all shapes and flavours. 
Cupcakes, dressed with twirls of icing and fondant cutouts, to cakes dressed in all types of frostings to chocolate truffles and crumbles...etc. they are all over the online world. And in order to cater for home cooks looking for simple recipes, I had always been posting such simple recipes on this blog. 

I understand that while an enthusiastic cook revels at complex recipes, home cooks are not usually super excited about multi-prep options and the extra work. But what is the point of being repetitive and not pushing the envelop, even if ever so slightly? If you are really set out to impress this festive season, do go for a different kind of menu. Do really impress. I want to help you do that, and think that posting such more intricate recipes and going for less traditional menu options, will allow you to bring interesting to your festive dinners. However, the old favourites have all been extensively covered here for you to try, if that is what you are looking for.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and find this recipe appealing. Do stay in touch and let me hear from you.

Happy Festive Baking Everyone!