Monday, March 8, 2010

Mango-Nectarine Mousse Cake

I had a craving for mousse cakes last week, the type you find in Asian bakeries with bright flavors like strawberry or mango. I wanted to make something light and delicate, but with an intense fruit flavor (I also had a new springform pan I wanted to try out, so there).

I got fruit mousse cakes from two bakeries to do some background research. I learned that:

1) The mousse layer should be light, but well-flavored.
2) The sponge cake needs to have presence. It should be light in body, but the layer should be thick enough so that it provides contrast with the mousse layer.
3) The cake layer should be lightly soaked. 
4) A layer of fruit puree really boosts the overall flavor of the cake.     

I used the recipe from Florence. The cake has three components - light sponge cake, fluffy mango mousse, and intense fruit puree gelee on top. I didn't have enough mangoes, so I made a mango-nectarine mix. The fruit puree was beautiful and aromatic.

I added lime juice and Grand Marnierto the puree before fortifying it with gelatin and folding it into whipped cream. Voila, mango-nectarine mousse.

After the sponge cake was baked, I brushed the cake with a mixture of orange juice, Grand Marnier, and candied orange peel.

After the mousse layer went over the cake, I tried to come up with a way to make the top level. I couldn't use a spatula since it would leave trails in the mousse. Jiggling the pan quickly in small circles worked fairly well. 

I made the gelee by adding gelatin to more fruit puree. I added some meticulously chopped nectarines for texture (meticulously chopped, because I had thoughts of making some sort of cubical fruit sculpture on top... that thought didn't last long).

The next morning, I fearfully unmolded the cake.

It was easy to cut and plate too.

The mousse was a little too firm for me, although it had a delicate fruit flavor. The gelee was very fruit-forward, but I would have liked it a little sweeter. The sponge cake, however, was spectacular. It was just sweet enough, light, yet rich in taste. I will definitely re-use the sponge cake recipe again.

Next time (oh there will be a next time, believe you me), I'll make a softer mousse and make multiple layers to get a 1-1 ratio of mousse to cake. I'll also use a lot more soaking liquid for the cake layer. Overall, I think the cake is missing a crunchy component - maybe some caramelized almond flakes on top...

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