Christmas is dawning: a plated dessert

The concept for this dessert originally came from watching The Next Iron Chef: Superchefs, all the way back in 2011. Chef Elizabeth Falkner created this really cool chocolate devil’s food cake with peppermint snow, inspired by Christmas, and I wanted to do something that was a nod to that, since I finally have the tapioca maltodextrin to do it with.

The exact idea came about from thinking about the holidays and festivities, and the excitement a child faces when seeing the sun rise. At the same time, I incorporated whiskey into my dessert, because as a now-adult, I find Christmas to be one of those exhausting times in the year where I may need a drink or two to get me through the holidays. That and whiskey pairs really well with orange and chocolate, which the dessert features, and the mint, chocolate, whiskey notes in it basically forms a mint julep (unintentionally, but still a combination meant to be). Luckily, I also gave the option to omit the alcohol, and in my component that included it, being the gelee, I specifically instructed to cook down the alcohol, just because I personally don’t like the taste of raw alcohol in my food.

The different components to the dessert are chocolate cake, peppermint snow, orange gelee (which may or may not contain whiskey), and a peppermint-chocolate cremeaux. Cremeaux is a type of custard that is set so that it is more like a whipped cream or mousse in a lot of ways. I really like how the texture plays off of the gelee and snow. The gelee is supposed to represent the rising sun, while the cake is like the pillow you are awakening from. The snow is quite literally the snow. The cremeaux, I plated mine like a sphere to resemble a Christmas ornament, but it can really just be whatever the fuck you want it to be.

Now I’ve done plenty of chocolate cake recipes before. But this one is my favorite. I incorporate melted chocolate into the batter, but I leavened it with plenty of egg whites and lowered the flour content, just to keep it from being too dense. The end result of that is a soft, airy chocolate cake that has a deep chocolate flavor, and almost melts in your mouth. This is by far one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes, and if you saw my other post about chocolate chip cheesecake doughnut entremets, I highly recommend you trying to make those with this chocolate cake recipe, because they would be that much better because of it.

Chocolate cake:
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons black vinegar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup lukewarm to warm water

Melt the chocolate chips with egg yolks, cocoa powder, and oil. Whip the egg whites with sugar, vinegar, and baking soda until it forms stiff peaks. Sift the flour. Fold ingredients together. Pour onto a lined shallow baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Cool entirely before removing the cake from the tray.

Peppermint-chocolate cremeaux:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
1/2 cup heavy cream; whipped stiff
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon gelatin + 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
a pinch of salt

Bloom gelatin. Melt the chocolate with milk, salt, and gelatin. Whip egg white and peppermint extract to stiff peaks with the sugar. Temper the egg yolk into the chocolate-milk mixture. Whip that mixture over medium-low heat until the ingredients are completely incorporated together. Take off heat and allow to cool. Once the chocolate mixture is room-temperature, fold in the egg white. Then fold in the heavy cream. Pour into a deep bowl or a silicone mini half sphere mold and refrigerate until it is fully set.

Orange gelee:
1 orange
2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 2 tablespoons orange juice
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon whiskey*

If using the whiskey, cook out the alcohol first. Zest and juice the orange. Melt gelatin into the orange juice and combine with salt, pepper, and the zest. Bring to a simmer. Once the gelatin is melted into the mixture, pour into a small loaf pan and set for 1-2 hours.

Peppermint snow:
1 cup tapioca maltodextrin
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
a pinch of salt

Combine oil, peppermint, and salt first. Add in the maltodextrin, stirring together to form a white powder.

Assembly:
Start with the cake, then cubes of the gelee. Either pipe, place, or quenelle the cremeaux onto the plate, and finish with the snow.

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