"Best Dessert Ever."

Full disclosure: Also the most complicated. I've gotta say, it was pretty satisfying to create something so delicious and kinda cool-looking too. I even think I'm going to do it again someday.

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was more a concept than a recipe - a very intimidating concept that it took me most of the month to psych myself up to approach. We were asked to prepare an entremet, which is a fancy-schmancy French dessert described as 'an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold.' The outer layer of the dessert would be a biscuit joconde, which is 'a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/ entremets/ formed in ring molds.' This, friends, is Top Chef: Just Desserts kind of stuff.

Blog-checking lines: The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe from the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

Okay, so if I could actually get this spongy decorative thing done, the next step would be to figure out what in the world to layer inside it. I've never prepared a mousse, a ganache, a gelee, and they're suggesting I make multiple layers of these items? Thank goodness for the posts at the Daring Kitchen website. Looking at the creations of many of my Daring Baker cohorts prepared me so much for this undertaking. I slowly developed a plan of action and dove right in last week, inviting some friends over for a lovely dinner and pulling out the entremet as the dessert course.

It was, I humbly proclaim, a hit. Leftovers the next day at work were again proclaimed the best thing I'd ever brought to the office (and I provide many, many sweet and savory goodies for the office). Dear Mr Leaven was disappointed that I had taken away his precious morsels, but fortunately we were short-staffed on Monday and I was able to bring a generous slice back home to my sweetie.

What did I end up creating? Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. With rum. And caramel. I've never really gone out of my way to combine fruit with my desserts. Until a few years ago, I refused any fruit-flavored, fruit-filled, or fruit-specked dessert, and even today I don't like fruit pies. So, as I was in charge of this dessert, it was chock full of chocolate. Not a bit of fruit, although I did include some nuts for crunch (it was also only recently that I allowed nuts to contaminate my desserts).

The layers were (bottom to top, with sources linked):

Dark chocolate salted caramel mousse (yes, really.)
Hot Buttered Rum almonds (made with sliced almonds instead of pecans, which was a fortuitous accident)
Pieces of biscuit joconde
Cocoa whipped cream (heavy cream, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs whisked in the mixer)

Yeah, hard to imagine that was at all tasty, right?

I was delighted at how well each of my layers worked out! I stuck to pretty simple recipes, and I did have some misses, but there were no tears shed and no pets scurrying away in fear due to streams of expletives. My first attempt at the biscuit joconde was a profound disaster, which was sort of sad because the design took me forever and was, in my opinion, quite lovely. I figured out what happened later, when I couldn't explain why there was a small bowl with several egg whites in it sitting on the counter - turns out I forgot to add 2/3 of the egg whites the recipe suggested. I considered using the ragged, deformed, patternless non-sponge anyway, but instead I tossed the first batch and made a decidedly less complex pattern for the second attempt, which sponged perfectly.

pretty design

pretty design all gone
The almond variation came about because I burned the first batch of 'hot buttered rum', which used the last 1/2 cup of pecans in the house. The almond batch was perfect and perfectly delicious.

I'm really digging these Daring Bakers challenges. Never in a bazillion years would I have thought I could create something like this. I encourage anyone who's trying to improve his or her cooking or baking skills to try this website out - I'd so love it if my friends were playing along with me and we could bounce ideas off each other!


  1. Great job on the challenge! Dark chocolate salted caramel mousse?? Sounds AMAZING! Yum, Yum, Yum! Now I need to go find me some dessert. :)

  2. yumm that mousse is making me drool!!

    beautiful work

  3. Sounds like it tasted amazing - what a fab combination of flavours :o)

  4. I think the dessert looks yummy. I like your chocolate purist outlook! I would have been sneaking into your brek room for seconds and thirds.

  5. Wow! So many fillings, and they all sound delicious, and like they would compliment each other so well. Am now craving rum and mascarpone at 8am...
    I am always forgetting ingredients too, especially if I try to halve a recipe. I really want to make another of these one of these days too. Just not today.

  6. I think you have just about the right amount of chocolate in here. But maybe it could use some more. Beautiful!

  7. Ooohhh. We are on the same page with salted caramel :D Nice job and I love the sweet design!

  8. Beautiful! I love the filling combination too. I agree, this is the best dessert ever.:)

  9. Your joconde turned out beautifully! The filling looks so delicious, too :) Well done!

  10. Definitely cool-looking. Your first design was gorgeous! Well done on this challenge!

  11. I agree, it's awesomely cool-looking. This looks like familiar, but not the recipe itself :) I never have done this yet. Great masterpiece!



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