Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

Creating Chris's birthday cake upon his girlfriend Sonja's request may have been the most exciting and toughest baking challenge I've gotten in awhile. When I asked Sonja for some directions on what his cake should taste like, she provided me with the following:

So, to kick it off Chris loves all banana related desserts, and he loves anything remotely crunchy. One of the best banana related desserts (I think) he's ever had is this (see Peanut Butter "Bavarois") ... The main elements that made this so delightful that I'd love, if possible, to translate somehow into his birthday cake were the banana-y, peanut butter-y flavors of the mousse (because this guy seriously loves anything banana), and the light toffee / chocolate crunch from the little round ball on top (which was filled with banana, NOM) and the feuilletine.

When I googled "Peanut Butter Bavarois", an artfully constructed dessert popped up made by none other than French Laundry, a restaurant with three Michelin stars! Of course I started to panic a little bit under the pressure of trying to live up to an extremely high expectation. Rather than focusing on the French Laundry dessert, I decided to work with the different elements - crunchy, banana, mousse, peanut butter and chocolate.
So I came up with this chocolate peanut butter mousse cake. It actually turned out to be quite a complex cake with multiple layers. I wanted to create a nice crunch on the very bottom so I baked up an short bread cookie crust just like some of the cheesecake recipes call for. Over this crust, I poured some rich dark chocolate ganache to lay a thin layer of dark chocolate chiffon cake over it.

Next was the peanut butter mousse which was made from silky pastry cream, then went on a layer of thinly sliced bananas. Some more mousse was added on top with little chocolate crunch balls to add some more interesting textural contrast.
The layers were repeated once more and topped with a final cake layer and some whipped up chocolate ganache to give the final smooth finish. I decorated the cake with these beautiful chocolate dipped wafer cookies I found together with some chocolate covered malt balls.

The cake indeed was banana-y, crunchy, chocolate-y, peanut-butter-y, and delightful! This may be my favorite creation so far in terms of being on par with what I had imagined in my head. Everybody enjoyed the cake and had a good time at the special birthday brunch at Foreign Cinema even though our waiter was absolutely horrible and tried to rob us of the rest of the delicious cake!
Happy birthday again Chris and great job planning the event Sonja :)