Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mozart Cake

This is a Mozart (cake) - I have to add the cake in there because it seems too snobby to call it by a title. The original recipe is here; my adaptation is below. Regarding the flavor: the component parts were good, but nothing requiring the choir of angels that sang when other reviewers tried it. There are two major changes I would make if I try the recipe again:

1) Roll out the dough to wafer thin before baking - you roll it out on parchment paper so you don't need to worry about ripping it in the transfer.

2) When assembling the pieces, brush two of the pastry rounds with apple jelly before covering them with mousse. The apple flavor in this cake is very subtle; adding a little more does not hurt.

By the way -- did I mention the need for fire in this recipe? Fire is fun, but very very scary. A few notes about fire and alcohol:

1) Fire hurts. Skin and fire don't play well together.

2) Alcohol catches fire most easily when heated -- I found this out after several attempts at lighting room temperature alcohol.

3) When actually lighting the alcohol, keep your hands and face as far away as possible. Best method I found was to light a match, tilt the pan with the heated alcohol away from yourself, and quickly, lightly brush the match head against the top of the liquid. It may appear to have failed to light for a moment; don't put your face close to check. If you don't see a blue flame, strike another match and try it again. The only truly difficult part of this step is using matches; if you have a butane lighter (long and thin) there's much less of a concern about getting close.

Now that the book of notes is done, prepare for the book o' recipe!

Prep Time: 3 1/2 hours
Serving Size: 10


Cinnamon Pastry
* 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely ground blanched almonds (no skins)
* 3 hard-boiled large egg yolks, cooled to room temperature and pressed through a fine sieve
* 2 teaspoons cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon dark rum
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 large Granny Smith apple - peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons dark rum
* 1/3 cup heavy cream
* 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
* 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
* 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
* 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, at room temperature, shaved with a vegetable peeler
* 1/4 Granny Smith apple
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons apple or quince jelly
* 2 cinnamon sticks


Notes: While assembling the pastry and mousse, I wished I had doubled or at least halved-again the mousse recipe. It's also better if you leave the mozart in the refrigerator overnight before serving as it allows the pastry to mellow out and soak up some of the moussey goodness.

1. Make the cinnamon pastry: Cream the butter in a food processor. Add the confectioners' sugar, ground almonds, egg yolks, cinnamon and salt and process until smooth. Add the rum and pulse to blend. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse to blend. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gather into a ball. Cut the dough into thirds; roll out on parchment paper into a 11-inch round. Using the bottom of a springform pan as a guide, cut out a 10-inch round (do not cut through parchment paper). Carefully move parchment paper onto cookie sheet; put in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes each.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Prick the rounds all over with a fork, then bake them one at a time for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer the pastry to a rack and let cool completely.

3. Make the mousse: In a bowl, combine the apple with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the cinnamon. In a large heavy skillet, melt the butter over moderately high heat. Add the apple and cook over high heat, stirring, until lightly crusted and tender but not mushy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rum, carefully ignite it and stir the apple to coat. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

4. In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the cinnamon sticks until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat. Strain the hot cream over the chocolate; discard the cinnamon sticks. Gently stir until smooth and let cool until tepid.

5. In a bowl, beat the egg whites until very foamy. Gradually add the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, beating until stiff glossy peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, fold one-quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate. Fold in the remaining whites, then fold in the apple.

6. Set 1 cinnamon pastry round in the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and brush the top with 1/8 cup of the jelly. Spread half of the chocolate mousse on top. Cover with a second pastry round, pressing gently until the mousse is within a quarter-inch from the edge of the pastry. Repeat for the second layer and cover with the last pastry round. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

7. Garnish the cake: Remove the side of the pan and pat a thin layer of chocolate shavings against the side of the cake. Cut 5 thin slices from the apple and rub with the lemon juice. Fan the apple slices on the cake. In a small saucepan, melt the apple jelly over moderately high heat and brush a thin layer over the apples. Garnish with the cinnamon sticks and serve.