Macarons have that signature texture of solid outside, chewy inside, which makes them such a pleasure to eat. Chocolate Mousse on the other hand, has that creamy, airy, melt in your mouth texture that makes you slip away on clouds of chocolate heaven. Ganache is a lush, creamy, deeply chocolatey experience that makes you unable to think of a better indulgence. Each is an absolute pleasure on its own, but when combined into one dessert, then you are creating a masterpiece of joy and lush chocolate goodness for the palate to remember!
Starting off with a large macaron disk as base for this dessert, topped with a layer of chocolate mousse and left to set in the fridge. Then when firm, the whole is covered with dark chocolate Ganache and left again to set. While you brush red currants and chocolate leaves with gold dust for a fancy festive feel. Then you fit the sides with macarons (in chocolate and vanilla), and golden decorations are gracefully placed atop the round chocolate goodness… The combination of flavour and texture, the steps, the patience, the assembly and the finishing touches… these are the makings of remarkable and memorable desserts!
If you are sold on being the host with the most this season, and if you want to have an impressive finale to your festive menu, then this recipe will do that for you. Despite sounding like a challenge, it really is very easily doable…
For Chocolate Macaron Base
100 g Finely Ground Almond
170 g Confectioner’s Sugar
30 g Cocoa Powder, Sifted
3 Egg Whites
4 tbsp Caster Sugar
Seeds of a Vanilla Pod
For Chocolate Mousse
200g dark or milk chocolate
4 eggs, separated
1 tbsp coffee liqueur, or 1 tbsp strong coffee, cooled
1 shot vodka, or any clear alcohol (can be substituted with oil-based flavouring)
a few sprigs of red currants
The Making of Macarons will take 2 days, the first day to separate the egg whites and let them stand, and the second day to make and bake them. The chocolate mousse will require a minimum of 4 hours to set, then it will be dressed with Ganache, which will also require 2 hours to set. Therefore, make sure to take timing into consideration when making this dessert.
A day ahead, separate the eggs, and keep the whites in an airtight container at room temperature overnight to cure).
Follow the recipe on this link for Vanilla Macarons, and make a few chocolate macarons from this recipe too following the same instructions as the vanilla ones in the link.
Start by making the Chocolate Macaron Base
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat, baking paper or rice paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and ground almond. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla seeds with an electric mixer, then gradually add the caster sugar and beat to soft peaks (See the image above for beating eggs).
Fold the egg white mixture into the dry ingredients mixture and continue to fold until you reach the ribbon consistency. place a large round tip in a piping bag, fill the bag with macaroon mixture. On the lined sheet, pipe a swirl, starting small in the centre and growing into a large circle, making sure all the edges are closely touching. Repeat once more to have 2 large disks of chocolate Macaron. Leave the disks to set on the counter top for 1 hour. This will form a skin that becomes the crunchy bit after baking.
Meanwhile, make the side Macarons
Pipe the rest of the Chocolate Macaron mixture into small rounds, and make the Vanilla Macarons and pipe into small rounds. Leave to set on counter top for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 300F, bake the macaron disks for 12-15 minutes, keeping a close eye on them as they can easily burn. Once done, firm on the outside, remove from the oven and cool completely. Carefully remove the disks from the baking sheet and set aside.
Bake the small Macarons in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. When done remove and cool completely, then carefully remove them from baking sheet and set aside.
Once the Macaron disks have completely cooled, place 1 (or the 2 disks for a thicker base) inside a slightly greased baking ring, or a loose bottom cake tin or a springform tin. Place over a baking sheet and set aside.
Make the Chocolate Mousse
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, slightly beat egg yolks with liqueur or coffee if using, otherwise with vanilla flavouring. (The coffee brings out the chocolate flavour.) Pour the egg mixture in a thin stream over the melted chocolate while continuously whisking.
Beat the cream in a chilled small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold cream, in two batches, into the chocolate mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a separate small bowl with electric mixer until stiff peaks form; fold into chocolate mixture. Pour the chocolate mousse over the Macaron disks inside the baking ring and place the sheet in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or until the chocolate mousse is completely set.
In the meantime make the chocolate leaves
(Watch the video above for how to make chocolate leaves)
Rinse the leaves and dry well. Place them on a lined baking sheet.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Make sure not to overheat the chocolate, once it is almost all melted, remove from the heat and stir until the remaining chocolate melts. Using a decorator or pastry brush, brush the melted chocolate over the leaves to form a full layer of chocolate. Set the chocolate-brushed leaves over the lined sheet and leave to completely dry. Otherwise for speedy drying you can place them in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Tip – if you use different chocolates (white, milk, dark) you will end up with an assortment of leaves in all shades of chocolate. Use these leaves to decorate the tops of any cake dressed with Ganache or even buttercream for a leafy look that will always impress everyone. A very simple way to bring life to an otherwise everyday cake. These leaves can also be used in decorating cupcakes or to top desserts or chocolate truffles…etc.
Once the chocolate leaves have completely set, simply peel off the leaf (carefully so not to break the chocolate) and set the chocolate leaves aside.
Make Golden Decorations
In this dessert, the decoration is simple and the cake is not overfilled with decoration. Feel free to go for a different design, like chocolate leaves on the whole top of the cake, or full sprigs of red currants…etc. You can either go for a shades of chocolate theme (using a variety of chocolates), carrying it out through the leaves and chocolate-dipped red currants…etc. Or you can go for the golden theme for a fancier and more glamorous look.
To carry out the look in the picture, you need to adhere the leaf to a paper covered wire (for floral designs). To adhere simply, dip the top of the wire in melted chocolate and place the dipped wire at the centre of the leaf. Set aside to completely dry. Meanwhile, gently skewer some red currants with separate floral wires, twisting the wire and securing over the side, under the red current. Repeat a few times to make a few red current wires. Gather the red current wires in different heights and place the leaf in the centre or towards the bottom. Twist the wires to secure together, then wrap the whole with green wire paper (or if wire paper is not available, use another wire to twist around the whole in order to hold the piece in place).
Once done, make edible golden liquid colour,
TIP –In order for golden powder to adhere to chocolates, fruits …etc creating a full layer as in the decorations in this dessert picture, the powder has to be mixed with enough alcohol (or oil-based flavouring) to create a slightly thick liquid. Golden powder can be brushed straight away on chocolate and will make it golden, but it won’t be as completely and boldly covered. Rather it will be a kind of see through golden cover, which will also rub off when touched.
To make this golden liquid colour, mix the golden powder with enough alcohol to get a slightly thick consistency. Using a decorator’s brush, brush this liquid over the desired surface and leave to dry.
Colour the centrepiece and some red currents using the liquid gold and leave to dry, Until ready to finish assembling the dessert.
Make the Chocolate Ganache
In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream just to boiling over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolates (do not stir); let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool for 15 minutes
Remove the set cake from the fridge. Using a torch, slightly heat up the sides of the baking ring for easy release. Otherwise, carefully run a knife down the sides, making sure not to cut through the mousse. Remove the baking ring, and set the cake over a wire rack, fitted in a baking sheet to collect the dripping ganache. Pour or spoon the Ganache over the chocolate mousse and down the sides to cover all. Allow to set for 5 minutes, then when the ganache is no longer dripping, carefully move the cake to serving dish. Place the Macarons along the side, alternating vanilla and chocolate. Return the cake to the fridge. and leave to set for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, finish up the cake by placing the golden decorations on top.
Yes, super delicious desserts, and impressive looking desserts always require multi-steps of prep. Yes, it is a tad more than mix, bake, and serve, but hey, if you want to display skill, then you have to actually use those skills 🙂 With that said, there is nothing more satisfying than when all of your guests are always in anticipation for what you are offering, because they know it won’t be a cake mix from a supermarket shelf!
I hope you have enjoyed this post, the recipe and the handful of tips and know how’s.