This year on August 15th marks the 100th birthday of the culinary icon, Julia Child and in her honor I created a celebration brandied cherry chocolate mousse cake. The idea originally came to me when I began to brainstorm with my dear friend and pastry aficionado Tekoah, and when we came up with a few great Julia inspired ideas I just had to make one.
This recipe is all about the egg. The egg is such a versatile ingredient because in baking and pastry, it adds richness and volume to a cake or mousse. The first step is to create a chocolate sponge cake; light, durable, and perfect for soaking up the flavors of the brandied cherry and dark chocolate mousse.
The egg is used first by combining the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla whipped until a thick ribbon in created. The flour and cocoa powder is then delicately folded into the whipped egg mixture; this method is similar to making a genoise cake. Then the egg whites and powdered sugar are whipped until medium soft peaks are formed.
Gradually fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.
Pour and spread the batter into a half sheet tray. Bake the chocolate sponge cake at 425 degrees F, for approximately 7 to 8 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool the cake on a cooling rack. A three layer individual sized cake was made but using a 4.5″ round cutter to cut out each layer.
Make the brandied cherries by using the following method to remove the pits: Place a cherry on top of a bottle, push a chopstick or small stick through the cherry, viola! This quick method was taught to me by Chef Leslie O’Guinn, very clever!
Bring the brandy, sugar and lemon juice to a boil, then add the pitted cherries; simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or until the cherries are tender. Allow the cherries to cool in the juice for 30 minutes. Separate the cherries and juice, and reserve the juice for the cake assembly.
Next make the chocolate mousse by melting the chocolate, butter and 1 tablespoon of the brandied cherry juice over a bain marie (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water).
Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, then gradually whisk in the eggs. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually and the sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. In three batches, gently fold the whipped egg whites into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Whip the heavy whipping cream until medium peaks are formed. Allow the mousse to cool to 95 degrees F, then gradually fold in the whipped cream into the mousse mixture.
To assemble the cake, cut a piece of acetate to fit into a 4.5” round cake mold or round cutter and place inside round. Place one layer of cake in the acetate mold, bottom side down.
With a pastry brush, and some of the brandied cherry liquid to moisten and evenly coat the surface of the cake. Add enough mousse to cover the cake layer. Add a layer of cooled brandied cherries to the mousse, then add mousse to cover the cherries.
Add a second layer or cake, and repeat the mousse, cherry, mousse filling. Top the cake with a third sponge cake layer, bottom side facing up. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours or freeze until mousse has set.
Create chocolate curls with a vegetable peeler.
Use a 60-78% cocoa chocolate bar for an intense and slightly bitter flavor to compliment the sweetness of the mousse and chocolate ganache.
Make the chocolate ganache glaze by boiling cream, sugar and corn syrup. Gradually incorporate the heated cream mixture into a bowl of chocolate chips and butter. Glaze the cake with the ganache then allow to the glaze to set.
Add the chocolate curls to the bottom of the cake, about a 1″ border.
Make the candied cherries by dissolving ½ cup of sugar with ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon of brandied cherry liquid over medium heat, to a low boil. Reduce the mixture to a thick syrupy consistently. Dip each cherry in the syrup, then place on a greased baking sheet to cool.
This recipe combines various fundamental baking techniques; egg foam, mousse, chocolate sauce, candy making, torte assembly and decoration. The end result is a decadent and flavorful brandied cherry chocolate mousse cake that hopefully would delight the queen of the kitchen, Julia Child.
Julia Child’s passion and exuberance for cooking has been inspirational. Many of us have watched Julia’s cooking shows and found motivation to create dishes in our own kitchens. Julia will always be a remembered as a beloved culinarian, and her cooking will live on in the generations to come.
I received this essential cooking guide, Mastering the art of French Cooking 50th Anniversary as a gift from one of my culinary inspirations, Chef Kara Capputo, right before I left for college. This exquisite and extremely detailed book has special sentiment and has provided wonderful culinary memories and experiences in my life.
When creating a special recipe for your loved ones, the effort is forgotten, and the will prevails… sharing your cooking with others is life’s cherry on top. Bon appetit!
- 3 cups fresh cherries
- 1 cup brandy
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 7 eggs
- 7 yolks
- 10 ounces granulated sugar
- 1.5 fl. ounces vanilla extract
- 4 ounces cake flour, sifted
- 1.5 ounces cocoa powder
- 7 egg whites
- 2 ounces powdered sugar, sifted
- 11 ounces semisweet chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
- 6 ounces unsalted butter
- 3 ounces egg yolks
- 8 ounces egg whites egg whites
- 2 ounces granulated sugar
- 6.5 ounces heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon brandied cherry liquid (from brandied cherries)
- 6 ounces heavy cream
- 2.5 ounces granulated sugar
- 2.5 ounces corn syrup
- 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 2.5 ounces unsalted butter
- Candied Cherry
- Chocolate shavings (60-78% cocoa)
- Wash and pit the cherries.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the brandy, lemon juice, and sugar to a boil. Add the cherries and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or until the cherries are tender, and retain their shape. Allow the cherries to cool in the syrup for 20 to 30 minutes. Cut the cherries in half if desired.
- Drain the cherries, and reserve the brandied cherry liquid.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a half sheet tray with parchment paper, then lightly butter and dust the paper with cocoa powder.
- Whip the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl by hand until the mixture forms thick ribbons.
- Gently fold the flour and cocoa powder into the egg yolk mixture and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and powdered sugar by hand to medium soft peaks.
- Fold in ⅓ of the whipped egg white into the egg yolk mixture and then fold in the remaining egg whites.
- Evenly spread the sponge cake on the prepared sheet pan using an off set spatula.
- Bake at 425°F until the cake springs back when lightly touched, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
- In a double boiler over low heat, melt the chocolate, butter and 1 tablespoon brandied cherry liquid. Stir until no lumps remain.
- Cool the chocolate mixture slightly, and then gradually whisk in the egg yolks a small amount at a time.
- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly beat in the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold ⅓ of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then the remaining whipped egg whites ⅓ at a time.
- Whip the cream, to soft peaks. Allow the mousse to cool to 95 °F and then fold in the whipped cream. Use immediately for the cake assembly.
- With a 4.5” round cutter, cut out at least 3 pieces of cake to make 1 finished cake.
- Cut acetate to fit into a 4.5” round cake mold or round cutter and place inside round.
- Assemble cake as follows: Place one layer of cake in the acetate mold, bottom side down. With a pastry brush, add some of the brandied cherry liquid to moisten and evenly coat the surface of the cake. Add enough mousse to cover the cake layer. Add a layer of cooled brandied cherries to the mousse. Add enough mousse to cover the cherries. Add a second layer of cake, and repeat the mousse, cherry, mousse filling. Top the cake with a third layer, bottom side facing up. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours or freeze until the mousse is set.
- Create chocolate shavings by using a grater to shave small curls off of the edge of a chocolate bar.
- Make the chocolate ganche: In a medium saucepan, bring cream, sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Cut the butter into small pieces and combine with the chocolate in a large mixing bowl. When the cream mixture boils, pour one-sixth of it over the chocolate and butter mixture. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining cream in small increments, stirring well in between additions to make sure the ganache is completely combined.
- Remove the cake from the freezer. Place the cake on top of a wire rack placed on a parchment paper lined sheet tray.
- Pour the warm chocolate ganache over the cake, starting on the edges to coat, and then filling in the center. Smooth with an off set spatula as needed.
- Let the chocolate coat set for a few minutes.
- Decorate the bottom edge of the cake with chocolate shavings, approximately 1” border around the bottom.
- Make candied cherries by dissolving ½ cup of sugar with ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon of brandied cherry liquor for color over medium heat, to a low boil. Reduce the mixture to a thick syrupy consistently. Dip each cherry in the syrup, then place on a greased baking sheet to cool.
- Top the brandied cherry chocolate mousse cake with the candied cherry. Bon appetit!