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Cherry & Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake + B's Birthday


Verily, time has flown by and it is approaching mid-August. I'm finally back after one month of silence on this space, after pulling through July's 'hectivities'. Yet even though July has long passed, August is not short of its own busyness. So naturally, finding time to bake not one, but two cakes last week – a peach and jasmine tea cake, and a cherry and dark chocolate mousse cake – was such a blessing and a good time of rest.

Initially, I was internally debating which cake I should write about first, because honestly, both taste good. Both contain my favourite things to put in a cake: tea, fruits, and of course, dark chocolate. I'm pretty sure you would have caught on by now, if you have been religiously following my feed and/or blog, that I have a tendency to use at least one or all of the aforementioned items in my bakes. And why not? Tea, fruit and chocolate are wonderfully delicious and lift the spirits. But in the end, I decided to write about the cherry and dark chocolate mousse cake first, because 1) CHOCOLATE, and 2) it's a special cake. It's a special cake because apart from making it for my family to share on National Day on the 9th of August, it was made with B in mind, for his birthday, which was yesterday on the 12th.

B is a special person and a wonderful blessing to me. There are many things I appreciate about B – his warmth, patience, cheerfulness, love, etc. I can never finish listing them all because I am just so thankful for B. I count myself blessed for us to be able to journey together! So I made this cake (even though he is actually more of an ice cream person than a cake person) because he likes dark chocolate and he also likes cherries.

This cake has three layers of rich and moist chocolate cake, sandwiched between a dark, bittersweet and tart chocolate mousse with dark cherries that add an additional dimension of sweetness and juiciness. For the mousse and ganache, I used Valrhona's 64% Manjari chocolate. It has a tartness to it that pairs perfectly with red fruits like cherries or even raspberries. However, if you are unable to get your hands on the 64% Manjari chocolate, you can use any other good quality dark chocolate. Don't use the confectionery kind though (e.g. Cadbury), as it would taste rather flat and it simply does not have the complexity and depth of high quality chocolates. Another good brand of chocolate for baking applications that I would recommend is Callebaut or Ghirardelli, if Valrhona is not within your reach. Still, I stand by the opinion that Valrhona's 64% Manjari is still the best chocolate to use in this cake and to pair with the dark cherries in this cake. Even B himself could taste a difference as he commented on how good the cake tasted and that it was "less sweet" than my previous chocolate cakes. Hooray! I was so happy to hear that, for I knew that he liked it. Personally, this is currently my most favourite chocolate cake I have made so far. B and my family certainly enjoyed it, and so did I.

Happy belated birthday, B! Thank you for being you! Here's to many more years to come. 😊

 

Cherry and Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake

Yields one three-layer 8-inch cake

Ingredients

For the chocolate cake:

  • 270g (2 cups + 1 Tbs) all-purpose flour

  • 100g (1 cup) cocoa powder

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 400g (2 cups) brown sugar

  • 125g (approx. 1/2 cup) greek yogurt

  • 125g (approx. 1/2 cup) whole milk

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs

  • 100 g (1/2 cup) oil

  • 240 g (1 cup water + 1 Tbs coffee granules) hot coffee

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 150 g good quality dark chocolate (I used Valrhona 64%), finely chopped

  • 150 g heavy whipping cream (at least 35% fat content)

For the chocolate mousse: (adapted from Elements of Dessert)

  • 120 g eggs

  • 50 g sugar

  • 160 g good quality dark chocolate (I used Valrhona 64%), finely chopped

  • 263 g heavy whipping cream (at least 35% fat content)

To finish:

  • Cocoa nibs, to decorate

  • 350 g dark cherries, pitted and chopped in half (leave 16 cherries whole and with their stems, for decoration)

Method

For chocolate cake:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter, line and flour three 8-inch cake tins and set them aside. Prepare hot coffee and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder together. Add brown sugar and salt and whisk until combined and lump-free.

  3. In a separate bowl, stir together yogurt, milk, eggs, vanilla and oil.

  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Whisk in the wet mixture into the dry mixture until almost incorporated. Pour in the coffee in a slow and steady stream, stirring until fully combined. Do not overmix as it will toughen the cake later.

  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean. Let cool on the tabletop for 5 minutes, then unmold and let the cake layers cool on a wire rack.

For the chocolate ganache:

  1. Put chocolate in a large bowl.

  2. In a separate pot or bowl, heat the cream over medium heat or in the microwave until almost boiling.

  3. Pour cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Then stir until chocolate is melted and chocolate and cream are emusified. Be careful not to whisk too vigorously. You just want the ganache to come together and not introduce air into the ganache.

  4. Set ganache aside to cool and firm up until it is a spreadable consistency. This amount makes enough to thinly cover the cake. If you want a thicker ganache coating for the cake, you may double the ganache recipe.

For the chocolate mousse:

  1. Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside in the fridge.

  2. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a hot water bath while whisking constantly until it reaches 60°C/140°F.

  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and place it in the stand mixer. Whip on high speed until it cools to about 35°C/95°F and creates ribbons, about 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over the hot water bath. Let it cool to 35°C/ 95°F.

  5. Once both the egg mixture and the chocolate are at the correct temperatures, whisk the chocolate into the eggs until evenly combined. Fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining half. Cover and place in the fridge to chill and firm up a bit, for 30 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Place the first cake layer on a 10-inch cake board on a cake turntable. Add half of the mousse on the cake layer and spread it out smoothly with a palette knife. Layer the chopped and pitted cherries on the mousse.

  2. Gently place the second cake layer on top of the cherries and mousse. Repeat for the final cake layer.

  3. Place the cake in the freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Using a palette knife, spread and smooth the ganache onto the cake, starting from the top and working your way down to the sides of the cake.

  5. Place the 16 cherries on top of the cake in a circle. Sprinkle cocoa nibs on the side of the cake.

  6. Enjoy a huge slide of cake! Mmm!

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