Swan Lake ▶
Shane Gorringe creates white chocolate swans filled with white chocolate mousse. Unlike most such confections, these swans are created without molds; you draw the wings, bodies, and heads by piping with chocolate, let them cool, then assemble the pieces. Three suggestions: work in a cool room, work with cool hands, and keep your tempered chocolate warm on a heating pad set on low and wrapped in a towel — it should stay at 90 F. Also remember that this kind of confectionery work takes practice – practice – practice; even Shane Gorringe had to learn to do this. Making a few spare pieces — especially the head and neck pieces — might save the day. This dish comes more as a set of directions than as recipes.
- White Chocolate Mousse (recipe below)
- White Couverture Chocolate - 2-1/2 pounds, melted and tempered (see Cooking Basics)
- Dark Chocolate Sauce - 1/2 cup (see Cooking Basics)
- Strawberries - 24, large, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
- White Chocolate Mousse
- White Chocolate - 12 ounces, chopped
- Water - 1/2 envelope, plain
- Amaretto Liqueur - 1 tablespoon
- Eggs - 2
- Egg Yolks - 2
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1-1/2 cups
First, make the White Chocolate Mousse (below).
On a sheet of white paper, draw a small wing — a fan approximately 2 inches deep and 2 inches wide at the widest point. Extend one side of the fan1/2 inch longer, so that the design becomes more wing-like. About 2 inches away, draw a mirror image of the first. Then draw two more of these small wings. About 2 inches away, make a larger wing, another extended fan, this time about 5 inches deep by 5 inches wide at wide edge; extend the wide edge 1 inch longer to make it more wing-like. Draw a mirror image of this larger design. About 2 inches away from any other designs, draw a large teardrop shape, about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide at the widest point. Spaced about 2 inches away from the other designs, draw a large “2,” about 6 inches tall; round the top end of the “2” into an oval, then put a small triangle on it, forming the swan’s neck, head, and beak. Make sure the lines are dark and heavy.
Place the paper pattern on an inverted sheet pan. Cover the pattern with flexible plastic, or parchment paper; make sure you can make out the designs on the paper underneath. Put white chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with a small angled tip. Pipe a continuous line of chocolate over the small wing shape, beginning at the point, travelling outwards on the shorter side to the line marking the long side, then back to the point, continuing to zig-zag out and in, out and in, filling in with successive strokes. The last stroke goes from the extended tip of the long side back to the connecting point. This completes one small wing; the strokes of white chocolate should resemble a feather fan. Repeat on the other small wing designs, then do the two large designs. If you run out of chocolate at any point, refill the pastry bag. Put white chocolate in another pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Outline the teardrop shape, then make a second outline just inside the first, touching it, to thicken the edge. Using back-and-forth strokes, fill the center in solid. Pipe over the “2” design, enlarging for the head and making a small beak. Let the chocolate cool until it is no longer shiny. Slip the paper pattern out from under the pieces and place the pieces, still on the plastic or parchment on the sheet, in the refrigerator. This completes all the parts for 1 swan. Repeat the process to make three more swans. Keep the remaining melted chocolate warm.
When the chocolate swan pieces are thoroughly chilled, about 30 minutes, remove from the refrigerator. Assemble one swan at a time. Gently remove all pieces for one swan from the plastic or parchment paper (peel the plastic or parchment away from the chocolate). Place on a work surface. Put the plastic or parchment back into the sheet pan. Place warm chocolate in a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Place the teardrop-shaped swan base in front of you with the rounded side toward you. Take one of the large wing shapes and fit it against the body shape, point toward you, wing extending to the back, so that the back edge of the wing approximately lines up with the back of the teardrop shape. The textured side should face outwards, the flat side inward. Note where it touches the base. When you are sure of the position, lay the wing down and pipe a line of chocolate along the body shape where the wing will stand. Place the wing back in position on the warm wet chocolate and hold until the chocolate is set enough to hold the wing on its own. Pipe another line of chocolate along the wing inside to hold it firmly, bracing the wing if necessary until all is firm. Repeat with the opposite large wing.
Position the two small wings at the front of the large wings, These wings should be positioned feather-side out, point forward, fan side back, slightly overlapping the points of the larger wings. Then place the final two small wings at the front of the body, leaving a small gap between them where the neck will fit and slightly overlapping the points of the first set of small wings at the back edges. When the wings are all firm, pipe a line of warm chocolate inside the body, extending to the gap at the front; insert the neck and head “2” piece so that the bottom of the “2” is embedded in the warm chocolate. Hold until set. Place the assembled swan on the plastic- or parchment-lined sheet. Repeat to make all 4 swans; they can all be placed on one sheet. Chill for at least 30 minutes again.
To serve: Take the swans and mousse out of the refrigerator. Place a large spoonful of dark chocolate in a dessert plate and gently tilt the plate in your hands until the chocolate has spread out to fill the entire plate with a smooth pool. Put the plate on a work surface. Place a swan in the pool. Repeat with remaining three plates. Fill the swan bodies with a layer of strawberry slices. Put the white chocolate mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain or fluted tip. Place the tip down into a swan and begin to fill with mousse, swirling and drawing the mousse up between the large wings. Fill all swans. Line strawberry slices around the edge of the dark chocolate pools, slightly overlapping the slices. These swans would also look lovely simply served on small flat mirrors.
White Chocolate Mousse
To make the mousse: Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir until smooth; set aside. Sprinkle gelatin the over the Amaretto in a small cup. Place the eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl, then place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the eggs and yolks until they are warmed through. Remove the eggs from the heat, add the gelatin mixture, and whisk to combine. Whisk in the melted white chocolate; set aside.
In a deep bowl, beat the cream until it stands in firm peaks. Fold a large spoonful of whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream, being careful not to deflate the cream. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.