Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Completed Chocolate Mousse Torte With Honey-Spice Blood Orange Compote

You know, the oranges with a bit of vanilla ice cream would have been plenty, but since I made the torte I guess we'll be forced to eat it ("Ow, ow, twist my arm some more!"). Worth two days of effort? Absolutely.

I'm still learning to use the new camera and as a result, the chocolate bands around the side didn't really show up all that well. That's OK-most of them broke! You'll have to take my word for it-this is impressive looking and when sliced, still holds shape really well.

As a bonus, the dessert leaves you with plenty of extra oranges, reduced syrup, and chocolate ganache for making truffles. You can handle extra chocolate and oranges, right? Yeah, I thought so.

So when I left you yesterday, we'd made the cake and it was chilling overnight in the fridge. Today, let's make the orange compote, chocolate ganache, chocolate bands, and whipped cream. Ready? Let's Go!

For The Orange Compote:
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book

4 large (about 2 1/2 pounds) Moro blood oranges, thinly sliced, cut in half.
Water to cover
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups honey
Juice of 1 lemon
3 sticks cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice

Place the oranges in a large pot and cover with cold water. bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer and cook until tender. Drain.

In the same pot (why dirty another?) combine the sugar, honey and lemon juice.Bring to a boil. Tie the spices in a piece of cheesecloth and toss it in. Add the oranges and simmer slowly for 40 minutes. Remove spice bag, transfer compote to a bowl and chill. Cover once cooled. At this point, if you have quite a bit of syrup, take some and reduce it by half in a saucepan. This will be nice for drizzling, and useful for affixing the chocolate bands to the side of the cake. You don't need much, but it gels pretty quickly and if nothing else, is excellent stirred into some yoghurt.

For The Chocolate Bands:

While your oranges are cooking, melt about 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. Cut 4 strips of waxed paper into 2 inch by 12 inch pieces. Lay the strips on a baking sheet and with a knife, spread with the melted chocolate. Set aside to harden. I wouldn't use the fridge (unless you are making these in summer) as you want the strips to remain somewhat pliable.

For The Chocolate Ganache:

2/3 cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Heat the cream until it begins to steam.Remove from heat, add chocolate and cover the pot. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

For The Whipped Cream:

You'll need quite a bit. I used heavy cream, and Whip-It cream stabaliser because this cake will be around for a while. If you're expecting hordes of hungry guests and the cake isn't being made too far ahead, just skip it. You'll need a good four cups of whipped cream, so plan accordingly. Sweeten it to taste. If you have vanilla sugar, this would be a good use for it. Because the cake is rich, but not terribly sweet, you really might want the cream sweeter-but that's purely a matter of taste. The compote is quite sweet.

Assemble The Cake:

Make room in your fridge to accomodate a baking sheet. I always forget to do this, so I'm reminding you to spare you the hassle of finding a home for ten pounds of carrots taking up the bottom shelf. You're welcome.

Remove the chilled cake from the fridge and place carefully on a metal rack over a baking sheet with a rimmed side. Trim the cake to even it out if needed. Yeah, you can nibble the scraps-good, huh?

Pour the slightly cooled ganache over the cake and spread down the sides with a knife. The ganache is a good way to hide imperfections if there are any. Chill for about 30 minutes, still on the rack over the tray. Chill any extra ganache in a bowl and roll it into truffles later. Dusted with cocoa powder they make a nice treat because you probably haven't had enough rich chocolate yet. Hey, I'm only doing this for the antioxidants. My doctor says I need more antioxidants. And butterfat.

So you have thirty minutes to rest. This would be a good time to sit down. Aw, go on-you've just spent two days making a cake.

OK, thirty minutes are up-get your behind out of the chair.

Remove the chilled cake from the fridge and careful transfer it to the plate you intend to serve it on. With a sharp knife, trim the top edge of the chocolate bands into a wave pattern. trim away the extra bits (insert in mouth). Spread the strips generously with the reduced syrup, or some orange jelly (or raspberry, or really whatever you have). Carefully press them to the side of the cake and peel away the waxed paper. Some will break, no big deal. Do this until you have gone around the cake. Return cake to fridge for ten minutes to set. Resume eating scraps of chocolate off of baking sheet.

Make the whipped cream. Now you need to pull out strips of oranges for the topping. Try to take the nicest ones, and let them drain a bit before using. When you apply the whipped cream to the top of the cake, make the sides higher with a well in the centre-this is where you will pile the oranges. When you are satisfied with the way the whipped cream looks, fill it with the oranges. Return immediately to the fridge until serving time. In fact, I wouldn't do the oranges until right before serving.

To plate the dessert, a bit of that reduced syrup would be nice on the plate, or even some extra oranges. Bring it out of the fridge about five minutes before serving, but not too soon as you don't want the whipped cream to collapse (you used stabiliser, right?).

If you can't force yourself to finish the cake after a day or so (it is absurdly rich). Scrape off the whipped cream and store the torte tightly wrapped in the fridge. It should keep well since it is basically an aerated fudge. A week at least.

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