Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Disastrous Chocolate Mousse Torte

Last week was literally the week from hell. So sorry for my lack of posting. I was recovering from a bad cold and from volunteering all weekend at the Taste of Charleston events.... plus it was midterms!

The first project of the week was a very disastrous chocolate mousse torte. Thankfully, it was disastrous for my entire class, not just me, so I wasn't alone in my distress.... Chef made it look so easy, when it was, in fact, not....

We started with a devil's food cake with beets in it.

I'm actually a fan of cooked beets. But they're not exactly a picnic to work with. For whatever reason, I wasn't thinking (probably all the stress) and volunteered to be the one to grate the beets for everyone's cakes. Bad, Bad idea.... my lovely normally white uniform was COVERED in tiny purple dots. I will say, though, that OxyClean spray works wonders! Since washing, all the dots have disappeared.

Then came slicing this cake into 3 equal portions. Also not an easy task. This cake was uber moist and the layers were small to begin with..... Once again, Chef makes it look so easy....

Then we made the "fake" chocolate mousse. I say this because we did not use egg whites, like a traditional chocolate mousse (or what I think of as a traditional chocolate mousse).

We started with chantilly cream and some melted chocolate. We added some of the chantilly cream to the melted chocolate.....

And then added the mixture into the rest of the chantilly cream.

We then added Instant Modified Food Starch to keep the mixture thick.

We built this torte inside of the cake ring, due to the soft nature of the chocolate mousse prior to chilling.

Then chilled the torte to help the mousse set before making a second batch of mousse, this time without the Instant Modified Food Starch, to use as icing. Here's where things started to go badly when we as students made our version....

Then we added chocolate shavings as garnish on the bottom

As well as in the center of the scored top (all our 10" tortes are scored into 16)

Then we finished with Chocolate Mousse Rosettes (all the same size, hopefully, and all lined up exactly with the edge of the cake) and maraschino cherries

I thought the cherries were out of place since the torte had nothing to do with them.... I think I would have used chocolate discs or something else.... maybe white chocolate?

Now comes the disaster portion......

No one's icing mousse came out exactly right. Couple that with the fact that our classroom got incredibly hot..... not so fantastic results. By the time we critiqued the class's work, many people's rosettes had melted so dramatically that they lost their shape and the cherries began falling off the sides of many cakes. Plus the chocolate seized in several people's mousse, so they had a nice chocolate chip effect going on. Personally, I didn't mind it, but of course, we weren't suppose to have "chocolate chip mousse" so points were taken off.

My main problem was entirely different.... I, thankfully, didn't have melting rosettes with falling cherries or chocolate chip mousse, but I did have one very very large flaw.

When making the chantilly cream for the mousse icing, I left out one very key ingredient when beating the cream..... The confectioner's sugar..... And this icing was not just for myself but also for my partner. Oy! I considered just leaving it out because honestly, our products are graded by appearance, so Chef would have never known we didn't add the sugar. But the finished tortes were sold to a catering company and I really couldn't live with turning in a product that was minus sugar (although in hindsight, the sugar in the melted chocolate probably would have sufficed).

So, after apologizing profusely to my partner, we both decided to just add the confectioner's sugar to our mostly finished mousse.

Disastrous results.

The confectioner's sugar was all lumpy and there was no way to possibly get out the lumps. Perhaps had we sifted it prior to adding it? That thought didn't cross our minds. We tried to get the lumps out by stirring, but that only caused the mousse to become over worked. And I felt SO BAD because this wasn't just a mistake that would affect myself, but it was also my partner's icing.....

See all the nice white lumps?

I guess you live and you learn..... I'm guessing neither my partner nor myself will ever forget to add the confectioner's sugar next time....

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