Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Green & Black's Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake


Friends in Melbourne have built up their expectations for my weekly chocolate desserts. Recently, I was committed to appear, dessert-in-hand, at the house of a man I'd only met once but whom I suspected held everyone up to the unwavering standards of his own homestyle Italian-Australian kitchen. My dessert had to be good. The problem was that, between meeting various deadlines, placating my rebellious computer, and jumping in the shower before we had to leave for dinner, I only had about an hour and a half to prepare a (hopefully-soon-to-be-declared-) legendary cake. With one hand on my laptop keyboard, I used the other one to haphazardly grab the Green & Black's Chocolate Recipes book off the shelf. I tossed it at my boyfriend and asked him to pick a quick recipe that would impress. He chose the following chocolate cake, which turned out to be velvety, intense, and somehow a complete departure from the standard flourless chocolate cake.

Recipe:
Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake with Gold Dust*
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Use: 20cm or 23cm (8in or 9in) cake tin with removable base or a similar-sized tart tin
Serves: 10
1 tablespoon ground almonds plus extra for dusting tin
300g (101/2oz) dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids
   or 200g (7oz) dark chocolate and 100g (31/2oz) Maya Gold Chocolate,
   or other good-quality dark orange chocolate, broken into pieces
275g (10oz) caster sugar
165g (51/2oz) unsalted butter
pinch of sea salt
5 large eggs
icing sugar or gold dust

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Brush the tin with a little melted butter and dust with the ground almonds, shaking off any excess.

Melt the chocolate, caster sugar, butter and salt in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water, then remove from the heat.

Whisk the eggs with the ground almonds and fold into the chocolate mixture. The mixture will thicken after a few minutes. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Remove the sides of the tin and leave the cake on the base to cool, then dust using a fine sieve with icing sugar or brush with edible gold dust.

Active Ingredient:

In her foreword to this recipe collection, company co-founder Josephine Fairley proudly explains that Green & Blacks was both the first certified organic chocolate in the world and the first product full stop to be officially granted Fairtrade status in the UK. Those are outstanding reasons to use their chocolate. However, Green & Blacks is not commonly used by chocolate professionals, for two other very good reasons. The first is that in 2005 (after the book's first publication), G&B became a wholly-owned subsidiary of candymaking giant Cadbury; while the sustainable practices of the Green & Black's production line may remain sound, the profits now support a company that is not primarily concerned with small farmers or natural ingredients. Second, the word on the street among chocolatiers and pastry chefs is that no organic chocolate (whether produced by a collective or a conglomerate) has as complex and rich a taste as the best couvertures on the market, simply because the trees producing organic cacao are not old enough. I did not, in fact, use Green & Black's chocolate, although it is readily available in Australia. One of the strengths of this sensationally photographed book is that it does not read like an oversized advertisement by insisting that you use the brand-name product. I hope that the forthcoming revised edition takes the same stance.

Notes:
I didn't have any gold dust on hand, but the striking ingredient can be obtained (by anyone who plans far enough ahead) at baking-supply shops or gourmet food superstores. For a more homey and equally impressive presentation, stick with the icing (confectioners') sugar.

*Caroline Jeremy, Green & Black's Chocolate Recipes (London: Kyle Cathie Ltd., 2003), 153.

7 Comments:

Blogger An Occasional Chocolate said...

Wow! I have been looking for some recipes to use with our gold dust. Great job Thank you!

7:01 PM GMT-5  
Blogger David said...

Hmm, that's interesting about pastry chefs you've mentioned not liking organic chocolate. I've tasted, and used, several of the organic brands and like them very much, including Dagoba, Callebaut organic, and Green & Blacks. I would suspect some professionals don't use them since they may not be available in large blocks (which are more economical and easy-to-use) and they don't have the marketing (or perceived cachet) of some of the bigger brands (who heavily promote their chocolate.)

The Dagoba dark chocolates, especially, have really been impressing me lately. They have a new Ocumare coming out that I'm looking forward to tasting.

9:06 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ange said...

Mmmm, yum, have that book & havent tried that recipe yet, was it legendary as expected?

6:58 PM GMT-5  
Blogger craig sams said...

I’m surprised that tbe ‘word on the street’ among chocolatiers and pastry chefs is that no organic chocolate tastes as good because the trees are not old enough. This is questionable on a number of counts:
1. Cacao trees live longer under organic cultivation because they aren’t subjected to the pressures from intensive cultivation, lack of shade and chemical fertilisation, all of which shorten lifespan and increase disease susceptibility
2. Organic chocolate is grown by smallholders, never on plantations. On plantations there is pressure to harvest the pods too soon, to rush the fermentation and to use heat-assisted drying to shorten the drying time. Time is money for a plantation, for a smallholder time is flexible, if they aren’t doing something with cacao, they can plant beans, weed corn or some other farm jobs. Getting the moment of harvest just right, doing the fermentation slowly in small batches and sun-drying the beans once they’ve fermented all encourage the enzyme activity that develops good flavor precursors in cacao and drive out astringency. Then roasting just tweaks those flavors instead of having to drive out bad flavors.
3. The varieties of trees (Amelonado, forastero, trinitario and criollo to name a few general categories) hugely affects flavor and blends can capture the complexity of different varietals.
4. A lot of flavor comes from anthyocyanins and polyphenols that the plant produces as a defence against disease and insects. Organic cacao has to produce more of these as it isn’t protected by pesticides and fungicides. Strong, healthy, disease-resistant trees produce less cacao, but the quality is consistently good.

Our experience at Green & Black’s is that all these factors are more important than the age of the trees (though some of our growers have trees that are 100 years old and most were planted in the 1970 and 1980s and went through the 3 year conversion period to organic. It’s a fallacy to assume that all organic cacao comes from trees that were newly planted, (though new plantings are definitely on the increase).

Craig Sams (founder of Green & Black’s, with Josephine Fairley, in 1991)

3:39 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what craig said makes perfect sense to me.... and i bet you organic chocolate is more nutritious too! tastier and healthier! love that the trees produce their own defences to ward off pests and disease! nature at work... adore G&B and going to try the cake next week... wont have the gold dust tho!

12:35 AM GMT-5  
Blogger JulianS said...

This is my very favorite dessert - and I do make it with Green & Black chocolate. Actually, I once used another brand and was disappointed. To make it even more special, I serve it with a raspberry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream!

7:54 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make this dessert on a regular basis for parties and it always gets the loudest "mmm"-s and "oooh"-s and "aaah"-s, especially with a side of fresh raspberries and blackberries and a dollop of creme fraiche.

6:57 AM GMT-5  

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