Sweet snow: a layer cake

This cake was a labor of love. In that it took me two days just because of how much setting and dehydrating that needed to go into it. We have layers of fluffy strawberry chiffon cake(using some rice flour in it for an even lighter texture), strawberry leaf tea soak so the cake doesn’t go dry, strawberry and ruby chocolate ganache, strawberry mousse, strawberry glass chips, ruby chocolate snow, and whipped mascarpone or creme fraiche(depending if you want more tartness or richness), on top to finish. There were a ton of components that went into this cake, but I really wanted to try pushing myself and make something that combined both an opera cake and a tiramisu into one. I dubbed this cake “Sweet Snow” as a reference to the ruby chocolate snow on top. I have made strawberry tiramisu all the time, and I wanted to make this a particularly special one.

For the shiratamako-strawberry chiffon:
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar, in two parts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup strawberry puree
1/4 cup shiratamako
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, whip your egg yolks, half of the sugar, canola oil, strawberry puree, and shiratamako together until light in color. In another bowl, whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Fold your three mixtures together and pour onto a lined half sheet tray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Allow the cake to cool before using for assembly.

For the ruby chocolate ganache:
12 oz ruby chocolate
4 oz Valrhona strawberry inspiration
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
a pinch of salt

Melt down your ingredients together to form your ganache. Keep the ganache at room temperature for assembly.

For the strawberry mousse:
2 teaspoons gelatin powder
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup strawberry puree
a pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt gelatin into water. Place gelatin, puree, and salt into a pot and heat on low heat until everything is combined. Take off heat and allow that to cool down to room temperature. Whip heavy cream and vanilla to form stiff peaks. Fold everything together and transfer into a piping bag. Keep refrigerated until time to assemble.

For the strawberry chips:
3 fresh strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt

Slice the strawberries on a mandolin to the thinnest setting you have. Bring the water, sugar, and salt to a simmer then take off heat. Allow the strawberry slices to sit in the syrup for at least 5 minutes. Spread the slices onto a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake at 200 degrees F for at least 2 hours. Store in an airtight container. Reserve the poaching syrup for the tea.

For the ruby chocolate snow:
2 oz ruby chocolate, melted
1/2 cup tapioca maltodextrin
a pinch of salt

Mix together to form a snow. Keep in an airtight container until it is time to use.

For the strawberry tea soak:
reserved strawberry leaves
reserved soaking syrup
1/4 cup water

Microwave your strawberry leaves for 10 seconds to kill any toxins. Simmer the leaves in the soaking syrup and water on low heat for 2 minutes. Allow the leaves to continue steeping off heat for another 10. Pass everything through a sieve to remove any unwanted solids.

For the whipped mascarpone or creme fraiche:
4 oz mascarpone cheese or creme fraiche
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip until combined. Keep cold for quenelling.

To assemble:
Start by cutting out three layers of the cake – you can make one layer out of scraps as needed. Line a square shaped entremet mold with oil. Place down the scrap layer first, then up to 1/3 of your soak. Then follow with about 30% of your ganache and 40% of your mousse. Repeat this for the second layer. For the third, you’ll start with the mousse first, then freeze the cake for at least 30 minutes. Then pour on the rest of your ganache, rewarming it as needed, and spread it into a thin layer. Freeze the cake for at least 2 hours before attempting to unmold it. Then finish with the ruby chocolate snow, strawberry chips, and quenelle of mascarpone.

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