So I’ve started reading for interest again (finally) and my current read is, “How to Be Happy without Being Perfect”. What attracted me was the “How to Be Happy” part of the title, and not so much the “without Being Perfect”. As it turns out, the book smallly focuses on how perfectionism negatively affects different aspects of our lives. The author, Dr. Domar, gives her advice on how to retrain our brains.
This sounds ridiculous if you know me, but I didn’t remember(?)/realize(?) I was a perfectionist… I’m serious, it was a revelation reading that book. In elementary school I had been called a perfectionist a few times, but never in high school, so I was never conscious of the fact that I was one for a very long time.
It explains so much why I act the way I do. Why I can’t write with Bic pens, or any pen for that matter, that isn’t thin and scratchy (and not too inky). Why I expect so much out of people and get frustrated when they don’t do it the “best” way. Why I’ve spent a good year trying to recreate the Erin Ireland’s “To-Die-For Banana Bread”, only to end up liking my own (healthier) version much better. Why I have to check Yelp and read all the reviews before eating anywhere. Why I spent so, so long on my assignments. Why I’m so persistent, and why I stubbornly finish the task I’m presented.
Why I’ve been making my own birthday cake since I was fifteen.
|Dark Chocolate Mousse in the Making
Why this cake is based on the very memorable (perfect) chocolate mousse I had for my grad dinner.
Why this recipe comes from none other than from America’s Test Kitchen, the epitome of perfectionism.
|Middle Layer: Dark Chocolate Mousse
|Pouring the top layer (READ: WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE IS TOO THIN)
(I happen to be an excellent chocolate shaver when emotional)
|Leaky cake = heartbroken Colleen
I made a parchment paper collar around the base of the cake, to make up for the fact that I don’t have a 9-inch springform pan.
Tape doesn’t like parchment paper, so on top of duct tape (which doesn’t really stick either) I used honey to “secure” (cough) the paper.
AND IT WOULD’VE WORKED.
HAD I JUST WHIPPED MY CREAM A TINGE STIFFER.
Because on top of being a perfectionist, I’m also (not) known for my patience.
Why waste time being patient!
Because certainly it wouldn’t have helped me here.
|Don’t look at that unnecessary cherry.
As horrified as I was watching the mousse leak out of the collar, I carried on in denial…
…ignored it, and stuck it in the fridge.
Which turned out to be a pretty good solution. The mousse had gelatin to stabilize it, so in half an hour I was able to scoop up the leaked out mousse to put on top.
And with a healthy amount of chocolate shavings to hide the flawed surface, it was good to go!
I can’t get a picture perfect slice for the life of me. Those food photographers freeze their cake before they slice it, do they (?)
Edit: apparently for soft cakes, you use cheese wire or dental floss. If I had only known…
A bit of strawberry coulis to cut the sweetness.
Also, my plate composition needs a bit of work. But um, my own criticisms aside… it was delicious. As promised by ATK, the richness of the cake gets lighter as you move up the layers. I would definitely recommend serving it with a fresh coulis for tartness. Texture-wise, it would’ve been better with a crunchy crisp element.
Since chocolate is truly the star, use the best quality chocolate as you can afford 🙂
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces (and extra for greasing the pan)
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70% Cacao, Lindt)
3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder (I used 3 tsp Hazelnut instant coffee)
1 1/2tsp. vanilla extract
4 small eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. cocoa powder, Dutch-processed
5 tbsp. hot water
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch of Salt
3/4 tsp. powdered gelatin (ie. Knox)
1 tbsp. water
6 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Chocolate curls or cocoa powder
Strawberry coulis (recipe follows)
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper round. Melt butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in small heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool mixture slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla and egg yolks; set aside.
In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add half of brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down sides halfway through. Using whisk, fold one-third of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Carefully transfer batter to prepared springform pan, gently smoothing top with offset spatula.
Bake until cake has risen, is firm around edges, and center has just set but is still soft (center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with finger), 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (Cake will collapse as it cools.) Do not remove cake from pan.
Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl; set aside. Melt chocolate in small heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.
In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.
Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into springform pan over cooled cake and gently tap pan on counter 3 times to remove any small air bubbles; gently smooth top with offset spatula. Wipe inside edge of pan with damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate cake at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.
In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand at least 5 minutes. Place white chocolate in medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly).
In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip remaining cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon white chocolate mousse into pan over middle layer. Smooth top with offset spatula. Return cake to refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2 1/2 hours.
If using, garnish top of cake with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa. Run thin knife between cake and side of springform pan; remove side of pan. Run cleaned knife along outside of cake to smooth sides. Cut into slices and serve.
WAIT, MAKE THIS STRAWBERRY COULIS TOO–
Just wizz up some fresh strawberries in your blender and add lemon juice to taste. You’re supposed to strain it, but really… ain’t nobody got time for that.
Let’s eat some cake!