I know, I know...no pictures of Lisa's wedding cake yet, at least not today....One reason is that I have been saving this wonderful Poire D'Eve cake for a week now and another reason is that I have hundreds of pictures to go through from the wedding and a few other attendees have graciously allowed me to use their shots too so I am working on a little montage. I actually started writing about it yesterday and this morning tons of little details came rushing to my mind so I need to "sit" on it a couple more days to do it justice.
I can't tell you how much your visits and excitement over this past week have meant to me and I promise to tell you all about it. As ubber critical me, I did find faults until both Lisa and Wayne decided to smear some cake on their noses, but I guess that is normal when you bake for such a dear friend...under the watch of other foodies....Thank you Kelly and Lisa for staying up late, talking to me while I was "spatulating" (new word) the same corner over and over again. Thank you K. for not taking that same spatula and knocking me over the head with it although your look was screaming "put that thing down....Now!!"
Allright, I will give something away about this cake. It was a three tiered square cake which bottom layer was Lisa's mom favorite carrot cake filled with cream cheese frosting, the middle layer was Lisa's favorite pumpkin cake with butterscotch filling from Marcel Desaulniers, and the top layer that the two lovebirds have kept and froze was Lisa's Mothership Chocolate Cake adapted from Orangette. The whole cake was covered in her favorite Italian meringue buttercream from Jacques Torres. I don't know if it was the near freezing temperatures, the beverages flowing a plenty or just good appetites, but at the end of the night there was just about half the carrot cake left...and I had made the cake for more than the accounted number of guests....I like when people are not shy to eat cake :) Now that your teeth are shattering and your stomach growling, I hope you can wait until the weekend for the recap!!
In the meantime, let's share a slice of this pear cake, shall we? I forgot to mention the other day that the Chai Persimmon Tatin was inspired by one of my pastry heroes, Hidemi Sugino from his The Dessert Book that Inne graciously sent me last year and even though the recipes are translated, I tend to get inspired by the pictures and the dominant flavors and then change it around. This Poire D'Eve is also inspired by one of his creations, the Pomme D'Eve cake in his other book. Now, this one was given to me by a Japanes exchange student I met a couple of months ago and when we started talking about Japan, I mentioned Sugino and she had her mom send it to me....in Japanese. Needless to say, I once again looked at the picture of his mousse apple cake sandwich between sheets of caramel mousse, apple mousse, vanilla and chocolate genoise and decided to develop a recipe for its cousin, the Poire D'Eve.
I know, Eve ate an apple, not a pear...but if she had had a Forelle pear poached in spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and folded with a light bavarian cream, she might have changed her mind. I liked the original apple cake mixing apple, caramel, chocolate so I decided to use these flavors in different texture contrast and medium for this cake. Like Eve and her apple, Forelles are my guilty pleasure when it comes to pears. It is similar in size to a Seckel pear and grows mostly in the Pacific Northwest. When I saw them popping up at the grocery store, I immediately bought a case. They are the perfect snacking pear, both in size and flavor since they remain firm and not milly for a long time. They fit in your pocket, purse or pocket and have this absolute tantalizing fragrance. I bought the case right before my trip so I did poach a bunch of them and preserved them in their poaching syrup. For this recipe I used some I had poached that day so I wrote the recipe accordingly.
The base is a milk chocolate feuillantine topped with a salted butter caramel mousse and a vanilla bavarian cream with diced spiced poached pears throughout. Before applying a glaze made with the poaching syrup I gave the cake some brush strokes with some yellow pearl dust mixed with a bit of water. The finished cake got the two thumbs up from B. who is not that big of a pear fan and commented that the caramel and chocolate complimented the fruits very well. Trust me, he does not only say that because I cook him dinner....he is really my most severe critique!!
Do not be afraid at the term "feuillantine". It is a entremets or cake base usually made with crushed "crepes dentelle" cookies but I was out (ate too many with ice cream) so I substituted crushed corn flakes and added a bit of chopped hazelnuts to enhance the mousses and it worked like a charm. I used the same caramel mousse as the one used in The Translatique, minus the chocolate. The bavarian cream is as easy as 1-2-3 if you have a little patience since you start by making a creme anglaise, adding some gelatin and once cooled, folding in some whipped cream and the poached pears. The spices and strokes of gold dust were the touches that have me in full blown holiday mood right now!! As always, be reassured that you can prepare this step over a couple of days (my head is more scattered than ever these days so any "time" help is welcome)
For the poached pears:
4 small pears, Forelles or Seckels, skinned, cored and left whole
3 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
one whole nutmeg
1/2 vanilla bean
Over high heat bring the pears, water, sugar and all the spices to a boil (leave the nutmeg whole). Reduce the heat to medium low heat and let the fruit simmer for 30 minutes or until just about fork tender. Remove the pears and put the liquid back on stove and let it reduce down to half its volume. Remove from the heat and strain all the spices. Reserve the liquid for the cake glaze.
For the Feuillantine:
5 oz (150 gr) milk chocolate
4 Tablespoons (55 gr) butter
1 cup (30 gr) corn flakes
2 oz (60 gr) toasted and skinned hazelnuts
Line a 8x8 square pan with aluminium foil and set aside (use a square pastry frame if you have one). Put the cornflakes and hazelnuts in a small freezer bag, close the seam and roll your rolling pin over it until finely crushed (do not run the mixture in the food processor, you want to keep some rough pieces). On top of a double boiler set over medium heat, melt together the chocolate and butter until they come together. Remove from the heat and stir in the cornflakes mixture. Immediately pat the mixture with your fingertips or the back of the spoon at the bottom of the line pan. Set aside while you prepare the mousses.
For the caramel mousse:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tb water
2 Tb salted butter, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, divided
Measure 3/4 cup of cream and refrigerate, this portion will be used to make whipped cream so keep it well chilled. In a microwave or small saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup remaining until it is fairly hot. It will be added to the caramel and by being hot it will prevent the caramel from seizing on you and clumping up. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar to the water over medium high heat and cook, without stirring until you get a dark brown caramel. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter and 1/4 cream. It will bubble like mad but it will not run over....if the butter and cream are not cold the bubbling will be minimal and short lived. Stir with a wooden spoon to smooth the caramel if necessary. Let it cool to room temperature Whip the remaining heavy cream to soft peaks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream to the caramel to loosen it up and then add the remaining whipped cream. Spread over the feuillantine base and refrigerate until completely set.
For the Vanilla Pear Bavarian Cream:
4 poached pears (see above), chopped in small dices
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 gr) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean
1 Tb powdered gelatin, sprinkled over 3 Tb water
1 cup heavy cream
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until very pale. In the meantime, in a large saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk and the vanilla bean (split open and scraped over the milk) to a boil. Slowly pour the milk over the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium low heat and cook until the cream coats the back of a spoon (as if making creme anglaise). Add the softened gelatin and stir until melted completely into the cream. Let cool to room temperature.
Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks and fold it into the cooled cream base. Fold in the pear dices. Pour the mixture over the caramel mousse until set.
At this point you can skip the painting and glaze but it makes it all the more festive.
For the paint, mix some gold dust with water to make a "paint" and brush in small strokes over the cake. Freeze the cake before applying the warm glaze, do so even if you skip the painting so your mousse won't melt.
Pear Syrup Glaze:
1/2 cup reserved poaching syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon gelatin, sprinkled over 1 Tablespoon water
Bring the poaching syrup to a boil, add the gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature (if the mixture gels, warm up over low heat until barely melted again). Pour it over the frozen cake and let set in the fridge.
Cut through the cake with a knife dipped in hot water to prevent breaking the glaze instead of slicing through it.
Note: I have terrible manners as I keep forgetting to thank Cenk from Cafe Fernando and the DMBLGIT judges for awarding the Toasted Coconut and Berries Charlottes the overall first place in last month event. I am truly honored and thrilled!