No, what you’re looking at above is not an entremet. Not even close. But sometimes, there is a silver lining to that dark cloud that seems to rain on your kitchen creations. That silver lining in this case was a simple, light, and delicious pomegranate gelee.
But we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s first start at the beginning.
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. In case you’re not familiar with an entremet, here is how they do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca4eLDok-4Q (video is in French – FYI)
And yes, my hopes were high. I was to make a thin, pretty, decorated cake to wrap around a filling of my choice. Many entremets are filled with bavarian cream, or cheesecake, or any number of other lovely concoctions. I pondered for a while on how to accomplish this gluten and dairy-free, but I devised a plan. I would simply swap out gluten-free flours for the regular flour, and I’d fill mine with my vegan cheesecake recipe. My plan was to make a middle layer of more of the cake and some “cinnamon roll” filling – which was basically a paste of dates, cinnamon, and pecans. Finally, I’d top it with a pomegranate gelee – so the top would look sparkly and like a pretty red glass. In my head, this sounded spectactular.
Only I should have stopped when I was coloring my jaconde (the design filling). I was low on natural food dye. All I really had was blue. So I went with it. (Only blue really isn’t that appetizing for a cake. Or very many foods, actually – except for blueberries.) The cake actually turned out beautifully, except for the blue part. The texture was spongy, and it was pliable. It was relatively easy to wrap around my 9″ cheesecake mold. Despite the less-than-stellar color, I was excited. I filled it with the cheesecake filling, and stuck it in the freezer to firm up.
A while later, I made the pomegranate gelee. This is where things turned for the worse. I thought that somehow, when I poured the liquid juice-and-gelatin mixture over the cake, that it would stay where it was supposed to. It didn’t. Instead it leaked all down the sides of the cake, making pink splotches and causing the cake to look, well…ugly. It actually tasted alright, but I couldn’t get over how it looked. The combination of colors was downright unappetizing. I begrudgingly took my photos, tasted a bit, but it ultimately ended up in the garbage. I was disappointed.
Until I realized that I still had pomegranate gelee left over. You see, I made way more than I needed for the entremet, so I opted to pour the rest into individual serving bowls and sprinkle some pomegranate arils into each of them. I placed them in the refrigerator to set. I took one out, grabbed a spoon and dug in – and somehow, the sting of failure lessened. My mistake caused an unexpected success – almost a yin and yang in the kitchen. The pomegranate gelee was sweet, tart, and fresh. It was light. I loved it.
But wait, you say. You took pictures? Where are they?
Okay, well, yes, I did. I didn’t want to start this post off with a garish photo of a less-than-appetizing entremet, lest I scare you away, never to return. But since you’ve stayed with me this far, here goes:
There you go. I would love to try this challenge again soon, knowing what I know now. I think it could be a lovely, impressive treat for company or a special occasion. I will go ahead and share the revised version of the biscuit jaconde (cake) recipe with you – but trust that you shouldn’t dye it blue, and learn from me – don’t pour liquid on top of it and expect it to stay there!
As for the pomegranate gelee, this was probably the easiest dessert recipe I’ve ever posted. It’s almost not a recipe. But if you have guests coming over, but want dessert to be easy and something that you literally can just pull out of the refrigerator and serve, this is it.
A big thanks to Astheroshe for this challenge. It was fun, even if mine didn’t turn out as planned. I’m definitely going to try again soon!
2 envelopes powdered gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
24 oz 100% pomegranate juice (I used POM Wonderful)
about 1/2 c pomegranate arils (totally optional, but it adds a nice touch)
Pour powdered gelatin into a small bowl and pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the juice over. Allow to sit. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the juice over medium heat until nearly to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until smooth. Allow to cool for a few minutes and pour into desired serving bowls (I used bowls, but wine or champagne glasses could be extravagant too). Place in refrigerator and chill for 3-4 hours. About halfway through the chill time, sprinkle some pomegranate arils over each. When the gelee is set, they are ready to serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Biscuit Jaconde Imprime (adapted from Chef John O. at The International Culinary School in Atlanta, GA)
¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour (I used 1 cup sorghum flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, and 1 cup tapioca starch, with 1/2 teaspoon guar gum, sifted together, as cake flour)
3 large eggs – about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites – about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted (again, I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)
- In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
- Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
- On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
- Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
- Fold in melted butter.
- Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened (I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners’ (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites – about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour (I used 1 cup sorghum, 1 cup brown rice flour, and 1 cup tapioca starch, with 1/2 teaspoon guar gum, whisked together, to make cake flour)
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid
COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
- Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
- Fold in sifted flour.
- Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:
- Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
- Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one. (I used a piping bag to make my blue designs)
- Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
- Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
- Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
- Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
- Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)
Preparing the MOLD for entremets:
– Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
– A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.
– Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.
– Glass Trifle bowl. You will not have a free standing dessert, but you will have a nice pattern to see your joconde for this layered dessert.
1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)
4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
5. The mold is done, and ready to fill with anything from cheesecake to bavarian cream to fruit or even more cake layers. The possibilities are endless.