Strawberry Bavarian Jaconde
Professional pastry chefs are a cross between mathematicians and alchemists. Everything is weighed and magically transformed. Chef DeForest is the quintessential pastry chef, creating a magical dessert of strawberry Bavarian cream layered with sliced strawberries all contained in its own little marbleized cake box--then enthroned amongst chocolate leaves. The chef uses almond flour, which is not readily available. But don't despair. Here's a simplified version of his enchanting dessert that uses ground blanched almonds to make the pliable sponge cake. The chef bakes his almond sponge cake on a silicone baking mat available at gourmet kitchenware stores and online. But we give directions using the more readily available parchment paper. The chef also uses gelatin sheets to thicken the Bavarian cream. Gelatin sheets come in various sizes, so directions are given for using granulated gelatin.
- Almond Sponge Cake (recipe follows)
- Strawberry Bavarian Cream (recipe follows) - 1 quart
- Strawberries - 1 pound, hulled, cleaned, thinly sliced
- Sugar - 2 tablespoons
- Chocolate Leaves - 32 (see Cooking Basics, Chocolate)
- Semisweet Chocolate - 2 ounces, melted
- Mint sprigs - for garnish
- Almond Sponge Cake (Makes one 17-x13-inch layer)
- Blanched Almonds - 1 cup (about 4-1/2 ounces)
- Egg Yolks - 8
- Sugar - 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, divided
- Pinch salt
- Egg Whites - 8
- Flour - 3/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup, melted
- Cocoa - 1/4 cup, or as needed
- Strawberry Bavarian Cream (Makes about 5 cups)
- Milk - 2 cups, divided
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Vanilla Bean - seeds from 1 bean
- Unflavored Granulated Gelatin
- Egg Yolks - 2
- Strawberry jam - 1/2 cup, good quality, pureed in food processor
- Heavy whipping cream - 1-1/2 cup
Make Almond Sponge Cake (see recipe).
Make the Strawberry Bavarian Cream.
Lightly sweeten the sliced strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar, tossing with a rubber spatula to mix gently. Cover and refrigerate.
Using a 2-1/2 inch sharp round metal cutter, cut 16 disks from the cake layer, beginning at the left side, making cuts as close as possible. You should get 4 disks from each row, leaving a top row of cake and a side row for lining the molds. On a parchment-lined baking sheet or tray, assemble 8 ring molds, 2-1/2-x 1-inch. Place a cake disk in the bottom of each. Line the edges with strips cut from the remaining cake. The strips should extend up slightly beyond the top of the molds. Into each mold, pipe in a little Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Spoon in a layer of sliced strawberries. Pipe in a second layer of Bavarian Cream; spoon in a second layer of strawberries. End with a layer of Bavarian Cream. Top the mold with a second cake disk, pressing down gently. Refrigerate to set mousse, at least 2 hours.
Make chocolate leaves (see Basics, Chocolate). Melt 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate over a double boiler. Keep warm.
To serve: Unmold the filled cake "boxes" and place each on a chilled individual dessert plate. Dip four chocolate leaves in melted chocolate and stick upright on plate, equally spaced around the cake, holding the leaf until it adheres. Garnish dessert with a fresh mint sprig and a few strawberry slices.
Almond Sponge Cake
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind almonds to a fine meal, the consistency of granulated sugar, by processing and pulsing. Be careful not to over process or you will have almond butter. If almonds begin to "clump" together and the grind is not fine enough, you may add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and continue to process. Place almonds, egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping sides as necessary, about 5 minutes.
Beat egg whites to soft peak stage. (Do not over beat; dry egg whites will deflate on contact with batter.) Temper almond-egg mixture by folding in some of the egg whites. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the batter carefully using a rubber spatula. Fold in 3/4 cup flour until just incorporated. Carefully fold in melted butter.
Remove 1/2 cup of batter to a small bowl. Whisk in cocoa powder by tablespoonfuls until a thick paste is formed that can be piped through a pastry tube. Place paste in a pastry tube fitted with a tip thin enough to pipe a thin stream of the paste. Butter a 17-x13-inch sheet pan, then line with parchment paper. Pan size is very important. Too small a pan will result in too thick a cake layer. Pipe the chocolate paste onto the parchment in a diamond-shaped pattern. Place the pan in the freezer until the chocolate pattern is frozen, about 10 minutes.
Remove pan from the freezer and, using a spatula, carefully spread the almond batter over the entire surface of the parchment-lined pan. Bake at 375 F until the cake begins to shrink from the side and the center is cooked, about 15 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool cake in pan on rack to room temperature. When cake layer is cool, invert onto a piece of parchment paper on a work surface. Carefully peel off parchment paper from the back.
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
In a 1-quart heavy gauge saucepan, mix 3/4 cup of the milk with the sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean pod.. Heat over medium heat to boiling, stirring from bottom to prevent burning. Reduce heat to a simmer.
While milk is coming to a boil, place 1/4 cup of the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let stand to soften, stirring any lumps with a fork to distribute.
Meanwhile, beat egg yolks in a small bowl with a whisk until liquid and light colored. Whisking constantly, pour about 1/3 cup of the hot milk-sugar mixture into the yolks to temper them. With a rubber spatula, scrape the tempered egg yolks into the saucepan of simmering milk, and, over low heat, stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-meshed sieve, then return to saucepan. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the softened gelatin into the egg yolk mixture and, over low heat, stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the strawberry jam.
Add the remaining 1 cup of cold milk, stirring to mix well.Set the saucepan in a large shallow dish. Run cold tap water into one side of the dish, while stirring the strawberry mixture in the saucepan to cool to room temperature. Do not let the water get into the mixture in the saucepan.
Whip the 1-1/2 cups of heavy cream to soft peak stage. Set the bowl of whipped cream in a bowl of ice water and gently but thoroughly fold in the strawberry mixture until it is completely incorporated. When the Strawberry Bavarian Cream is thickened, but not jelled, it is ready to put in a pastry tube and pipe into the cake boxes. Any unused Bavarian cream may be refrigerated, covered.