What a lovely an unusual dessert, a spicy cake and cinnamon tea mousse combination that is dressed with gilded spices. Pastry Chef Mara Rocha Mello makes good use of flavored tea bags to create her mousse; it is an idea which could be applied elsewhere. Both the cake and the mousse are delicious enough to serve on their own.
- Spicy Cake
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons, melted
- Eggs - 8
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Ground cinnamon - 1-1/2 teaspoon
- Ground ginger - 1-1/2 teaspoon
- Ground Cardamom - 3/4 teaspoon
- Ground Coriander - 3/4 teaspoon
- All-Purpose Flour - 1 cup
- Cinnamon Tea Mousse
- Cinnamon Tea Bags - 3
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 3/4 cup
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Sugar - 2/3 cup
- Unflavored gelatin - 1/2 packet
- Water - 1 tablespoon
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1-1/4 cup, beaten to soft peaks
- Chocolate Garnishes
- Semisweet Chocolate - 8 , chopped
- Pistachios - 1/2 cup, chopped small
- Unflavored gelatin - water
- Water - 4 tablespoons
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Cinnamon Sticks - 3
- Vanilla Bean Pods - 2 ,used split
- Star Anise - 4
- Cloves - 1 tablespoon
- Whole black peppercorns - 1 tablespoon
- Vodka - 1 ounce, (optional)
- Edible gold leaf - 1 sheet, optional
- Ground cinnamon for dusting
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 F. Brush a baking sheet with melted butter and cover with parchment paper; brush the paper with butter. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the eggs and sugar together at medium speed, then beat for 10 minutes, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Sift the spices and flour together. Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Spread the batter over the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the center is firm and the sides shrink in a little. Set aside and let cool.
Place an open-bottom, straight-sided mold on a serving dish; the chef uses a three-sided mold with rounded sides. Cut the cake to fit the mold and press the cake into the bottom of the mold.
To make the mousse: Combine the tea bags and cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain the infused cream into a small bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the egg yolks and sugar together at medium speed, then beat for 10 minutes, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Sprinkle the gelatin over the tablespoon of water and set aside to melt. Pour the infused cream over the mixture, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and fold the gelatin into the yolk mixture. Let cool. Fold a large spoonful of the whipped cream into the egg mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream in two additions. Pour the mousse over the cake in the mold and smooth the top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
To make the chocolate garnishes: In the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the chopped chocolate and heat to 110°F. Do not let any water come in contact with the chocolate. Remove the pan from the hot water bath and let cool to 90°F. Set the pan on a heating pad set on low to maintain the temperature at 90°F while you work.
Lay a piece of flexible plastic (not plastic wrap; the plastic should be at least as thick as heavy photographic film) on a flat work surface. Spread the melted chocolate very thin across the plastic with an offset (bent at the handle) spatula. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Let cool; slide the plastic onto a baking sheet and refrigerate the chocolate until firm. Bring a small amount of water to a boil. Using a 2-inch round cutter, dip the cutter into the hot water, then press into the chocolate. Make at least 12 discs. Set aside in the refrigerator.
To make the aspic: Dissolve the gelatin in 1 tablespoon of the water. Mix the sugar and remaining water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and stir in the dissolved gelatin. If the mixture sets too firmly while you are using it, warm it in the microwave for 15 seconds.
To assemble: Warm the sides of the mold by wrapping with warm towels. Cut around the edge of the mold with a thin hot knife. Lift the mold. Press the chocolate discs around the sides of the bavarois. Clear any bits from the serving plate. Spread a very thin layer of warm aspic over the top of the bavarois so that it is shiny. Decorate the top of the cake with a cluster of cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean pods, and star anise. Scatter cloves and peppercorns over the entire top. Put the bavarois back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set the aspic.
To serve: Take the bavarois out of the refrigerator. Using a small soft paintbrush, wet the garnishes and place the gold leaf against them; lift away to leave a gilt finish. Sprinkle the serving plate with powdered cinnamon.