First of all let me just say that I am not usually a giggling-type gal. Banshee? Oh yes, after a few. A squealer? Embarassingly so, especially when in company of adorable furry creatures. But do I do the teehees and the heehees? Erm… no. So how the heck did a spectacled culinary genius get me all-a-twitter? I’ll tell you how. When you are under the influence of ‘P’, legal in most countries and scientifically known as popping candy, then all bets are off. Thats right, my resolve crumbled into fits of giggles under the weight of effervescent candy, chocolate and a dude called Heston.
This was made with the ring from a springform pan
Don’t let the Heston Blumenthal reference put you off making this. This is actually a really simple dessert that can be easily thrown together without the use of killer chemicals, nitro, mining machinery or ingredients that can only be sourced from the mountain pools of Tibet. All you’ll need are kick-ass chocolate and popping candy – mine were sourced from my local supermarket. Cottees Strawberry flavour. Oh yes.
You know there’s only ONE thing to do with leftover chocolate mousse right?
Obviously a dessert with a mound of devilish chocolate mousse, was always going to be a crowd pleaser but with something as simple as throwing some popping candy into the base, it just lifts the whole thing into a new kiddie dimension. Forget civility, you will be eating this with your mouth wide open for all to see because this poptastic soundtrack deserves its audience and full audio is the only way to go.
Made with a food ring – smoother sides and less defined layers
And you can bet your ass that I popped off while making this. Which turned out to be my downfall, because under the popilicious haze, I actually spilt most of the candy on the floor. Danggit. But fear not, because whatever little amount of candy that I salvaged, was still enough to give us the titters. I can only imagine the ensuing frivolity if the full cache of popping candy went into the tiny base of the cake. And by the way, riveting information of the day, if you step on popping candy with your ugg boots, it will still pop as you walk. And believe you me, they were a bitch to get off. So you’ll just have to keep walking on them until they pop themselves out to death. Kind of like stars. Awesome.
Now lets talk about that glaze. Hestons calls for the sugar to be caramelised before being added to the cocoa mixture. Well, as I found out after multiple tries, this mixture just doesn’t get hot enough for the caramelised sugar to be emulsified and you’ll end up with bits of hard toffee that are as stubborn as The Captain with man-flu. Raise the temperature up to try and melt it, and you’ll just burn the chocolate. Bummer. So after a couple of futile attempts, I counted my losses and just strained the thing. The first time, it didn’t leave me with much glaze. The second time, I just mixed the sugar into it without caramelising but it turned out a little runny and didn’t set as well in the fridge. Adding more chocolate to it should fix that and firm the glaze right up. If not, you can bugger the whole thing and make this glacage instead to cover it. It still tastes fab and there’s no need for caramelised anything.
So failed glaze aside, this was totally a titter-worthy, pop-freaking-tastic and utterly delicious way to ensure that I’ll never fit into my skinny jeans again. I wonder how many calories can be burned off through giggling?
Popping Candy Chocolate Cake
For the popping-candy base
85g whole hazelnuts
40g milk chocolate
2 tsp mixed spice
100g popping candy (I used Cottees Strawberry Popping Candy – usually found at Coles)
Notes on the portion size: The original recipe (which I found here) says that this makes one 12cm cake but you can definitely get two out of it. I did, however, had to double the glaze because I wanted it a thicker layer of it. You could stick to one portion but you’ll have to spread it thinner. You could also use this recipe to make one 20cm cake if you doubled the amount of ingredients for the base.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas Mark 4) and roast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Blend to a paste in a food processor, then set aside.
Melt the milk chocolate in a bowl over low-simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir in the mixed spice and popping candy.
Fold in the hazelnut purée. Place your ring molds (or just use the ring of a springform tin) on a serving dish and gently press in the base mixture to a depth of about 1cm. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until hard.
– – –
For the chocolate mousse
350g dark chocolate
400ml double cream (I used thickened)
Pinch of salt
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a metal bowl. Bring 150ml of the cream to the boil in a small saucepan and pour over the chopped chocolate and stir gently until all the chocolate has melted, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t take on a granular texture.
Add the salt to taste. Once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature, lightly whip the remaining 250ml cream to soft peaks, but do not overwhip.
Fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour over the base in the ring mould and place in the fridge to set for 2 hours.
– – –
For the chocolate glaze
20g dark chocolate, chopped
8 whole coffee beans (I just used a tablespoon of instant coffee granules but adjust to your preference)
Couple of pinches of salt
30g cocoa powder
70g unrefined golden caster sugar
To make the glaze, chop up the chocolate and set aside. Place the water, coffee beans and salt in a pan, whisk in the cocoa powder, then set over a medium heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the sugar in a small pan and melt over a medium heat. Unrefined sugar will caramelise quickly, so keep an eye on it; when it does, pour over the coffee and cocoa mix — stand back, as it will bubble and spit.
Beat in the chopped chocolate and, when melted, pass through a fine sieve. When cool, but still liquid, pour over the mousse to your preferred depth and return the cake to the fridge to set.
To serve: run a hot knife around the inside of the ring before removing the cake. What I did was, I quickly blowtorched the outside of the food ring and gently eased it off the cake. I then used a small offset palette knife (make sure it’s hot) to smooth the outside of the cake. When slicing it, make sure the blade of the knife is nice and hot.