I’m a sucker for all things caramel. When I look through a dessert menu and see caramel ice-cream, creme brulee, toffee sweets, butterscotch…anything to do with burnt sugar, and my drool function is activated. Not even chocolate does that for me…. Maybe it’s that heavenly candy smell of sugar when it’s heating…it brings back memories of those pushcart candy floss machines which I would seek out when I was a kid. I loved those fluffy pink clouds of sweetness and the smell that emanates from the huge sunken basin where the sugar is spun is the same one that is given off when I make caramel. No wonder then that the mere mention of caramel gets me all gooey-eyed in anticipation of a lusciously sweet and sticky confection.
But not everyone likes the childish wickedness of caramel or spun sugar. Which is why this cake is so perfect. Unbeleivably moist chocolate sponges sandwiched with a caramel mousse. The chocolate cake remains soft even when chilled because it used corn oil rather than butter (which goes solid in cold temperatures). I got this recipe from my Home Economics recipe binder and it uses Optima Flour, but really, any of your favorite chocolate sponge cake recipes would be great. Then comes the mousse, which is perfectly creamy, rich and has a lovely caramel flavor- not too strong but enough so that you know it’s there. I got the recipe off another local blog by Yochana, this amazing super-baker (you HaVE to check out her stuff– it’s mindboggling!). Then to top it off, a layer of chocolate butter…so slightly salted, to bring out the flavors of the mousse. This was such a hit in my house that a 9″ cake was polished off in a day.
The only drawback was that this was a cake that didn’t travel well. Even with the addition of gelatine, the mousse still became soft after about 15minutes out of the fridge …best to eat this straight… I guess you could add more gelatine, that would undoubtably make the mousse firmer. But the creaminess, as it was, was just perfect for the soft sponge and so I didn’t want to meddle with the proportions. Guess I’ll just have to migrate if I want these cream and mousse creations to last longer than a quarter of an hour out of the fridge. Hmm, Europe, here I come.
Right after I save up, like, half a million dollars.
Maybe I could just buy a portable fridge or cooler. That may save me a little bit of money… just a teeny weeny bit.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
4 egg yolks
2 level tbsp flour
3 tsp best-quality cocoa
1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
100g Optima flour
85ml corn oil
1/4 tsp butter oil
2 dessertspoons chocolate emulco
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
75g caster sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line the base and sides of a 9″ round tin.
- Lightly whisk together the oil, water, butter oil and egg yolks.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa and soda bicarbonate into a large bowl. Stir in the optima flour, without sifting it. Using a wooden spoon, make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture into the well, stirring well until it is mixed. Beat until a smooth batter is formed and then mix in the chocolate emulco.
- In a clean dry bowl, whisk together the egg whites and cream of tartar until it forms soft peaks. Add in a tablespoon of the sugar at a time and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
- Carefully fold in the chocolate batter into the egg whites until it is just mixed. Do not overwork the mixture.
- Pour the batter into the tin and bang the tin once on the countertop to remove any large air bubbles.
- Bake at 350F for 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Cool for 2 minutes in tin then overturn on a wire rack and remove lining paper. Cool sponge completely.
115g castor sugar
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp gelatine
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, chilled
Place sugar and about 2tbsp of water into a small saucepan and dissolve sugar over low to medium heat, swirling the pan occassionally. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat to medium and let the syrup boil until it turns a dark amber. Swirl the pan once the sugar starts to color so that it darkens evenly.
Once the caramel is a dark amber, quickly stir in the butter until smooth (Be careful as it will sputter).
Turn off the heat and slowly pour in 3/4 cup of whipping cream into the hot caramel in a steady stream, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon. If it seizes, no worries, return the pan to the stove and over low heat, stir until the lumps dissolve.
Dissolve gelatin in the 90ml of water (gently heat the mixture if necessary to fully dissolve the gelatine) and stir into the caramel mixture. Leave to cool completely.
In a chilled bowl, beat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream until thick and fold into the cooled caramel mixture. At this point, the mousse will be very soupy so I suggest you bung the bowl in the freezer and give it a stir every few minutes until it becomes thick and creamy.
Slice the sponge into three even layers
Sandwich each layer with caramel mousse, and then cover the top and sides with the mousse as well
Place the frosted cake in the fridge to set
100g slightly salted butter (I used Lurpak)
Over a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring until mixture is smooth.
Cool completely, stirring occassionally until mixture is spreadable. You may have to do some of the cooling in the fridge.
After the caramel mousse has set in the fridge (it’ll take a couple of hours), spread the top of the cake with the chocolate butter and if desired, the sides as well. I used my palette knife to swirl the chocolate butter with the mousse, giving it a marbled effect.