Raspberry and Vanilla Bean Mousse Cake

Do you ever think of an idea for a dish, maybe one that's a little more complex than your usual so you're kind of worried about messing it up big time, but then you totally pull it off and it's exactly what you imagined?!

I did that.

Not to toot my own horn too much, but this cake is my newfound pride and joy. I came up with the idea of a raspberry and vanilla mousse cake a few weeks ago, but it was just a vague idea. Over the course of a week, I finalized what I wanted the components to be and how I wanted to decorate it. I searched my many many books for recipes that I wanted, tweaked some to fit my needs, and just went for it!

First try was a total fail. The gelée didn't have enough gelatine in it so it was too liquidy when it thawed, which meant that the whole structure of the mousse cake was off. You cut into it and then bleeeuuurrrghh - out comes the gelée kind of like blood, which was creepy. And then it's all over the plate and you're just left with diplomat cream that had too much gelatine and the whole thing is just not working.

So, I rethought the recipes and tweaked them over the course of the next week, and tried again the next weekend. If this didn't turn out, I was probably going to abandon the idea because I get kinda spiteful when it comes to failed desserts.

But then it turned out perfectly! Like, exactly perfectly! Perfect texture, perfect taste, perfect contrast, perfect look! I can't remember a time when I nailed it this good

This might just be my ideal mousse cake. I love mousse and custards (I think most of the posts on this blog contain mousse and/or custard), so to say this is my favourite is big. The sweet creaminess of the light vanilla diplomat cream is the perfect foil for the tart and flavourful gelée (that is not like jell-o, I promise). A bit of crunch from the sablé and then another hit of raspberry from the spongey but intensely raspberry-y cake.

I want everyone to make this cake. Heck, I want to make this cake again just so I can eat it again. I want someone to have a party so I can make this cake in a big version, but everyone else is health conscious so I eat the majority of it. I want to stare at these photos all day and bask in the feeling of "Man, I nailed that". I want to carry photos of this cake in my wallet and when people proudly show me photos of their kids, I can pull out my photos and say, "Yeah, but look what I made." 

Too much? Naaah.

Raspberry and Vanilla Bean Mousse Cake

Raspberry Cake
Recipe adapted from The Modern Cafe

89 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
79 g eggs
202 g raspberry purée, at room temperature
198 g granulated sugar
180 g all-purpose flour
8 g baking powder
1.5 g vanilla powder

Raspberry Gelée

200 g raspberry purée
25 g icing sugar
5 g gelatin sheets

Recipe adapted from Elements of Dessert

73 g all-purpose flour
175 g cake flour
120 g butter, at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean
2 g salt
90 g icing sugar
18 g almond flour
50 g eggs

Pastry Cream
Recipe adapted from The Modern Cafe

216 g whole milk
52 g granulated sugar
1 g salt
1 vanilla bean
50 g egg yolks
20 g cornstarch
20 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Diplomat Cream

300 g pastry cream
300 g heavy cream, whipped to medium peaks
5 g gelatin sheets

Crisp Meringue
Recipe adapted from Frozen Desserts

75 g egg whites
75 g granulated sugar
75 g icing sugar

To finish

White cocoa butter spray
Neutral cold glaze

First, line four 3-inch rings with acetate and place on a silpat lined baking sheet. 

To start, make the raspberry cake. Place a silpat on a half sheet pan and spray the border with non-stick oil spray. Preheat the oven to 320 F.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and vanilla powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until pale and creamy. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar, beating until combined. Then add the eggs, beating until combined. Slowly add the raspberry purée, scraping down the bowl halfway through.

Fold in the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the sheet pan and use an offset spatula to spread the batter in an even layer.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cake springs back in the middle when you apply gentle pressure with your fingertips. Remove the cake from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Cut out 3 inch circles from the raspberry cake and place them inside the rings.

For the raspberry gelée, place four 2.75 inch rings on a silpat lined baking sheet. 

Combine the raspberry purée and icing sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Bloom the gelatine sheets in ice water to soften.

Once the gelée is hot but not boiling, remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the purée, whisking to dissolve. Pour 50 g of gelée into each ring. Place in the freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.

Once completely frozen, remove from the rings and reserve in the freezer.

For the sablé, sift the all-purpose and cake flour together.

Cream the butter, salt, icing sugar, and almond flour together on medium speed in an electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mix. Mix until a homogenous mass is obtained, about 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer, add the eggs and mix for a few seconds on low speed until the eggs are completely incorporated.

Stop the mixer, add the sifted flours, and mix for a few seconds, pulsing the mixer at first to keep the flour in the bowl. Mix just to obtain a homogenous mixture. 

Shape the dough into a flat square and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven 325 F.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle 3mm thick, then chill again until slightly firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut out four 3-inch circles and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Wrap the leftover dough tightly in plastic wrap and freeze to use at another time.

Bake the sable for 12 to 15 minutes, until there is only a slight bit of golden brown on the underside of the sablé. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Place the sablé on top of the raspberry cake in the rings.

For the pastry cream, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisk until slightly paler in colour.

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to a medium saucepan along with the milk.

When the milk mixture has come to a boil, slowly pour a small amount into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Continue tempering the yolks with the milk mixture, then transfer all of back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture has thickened, about 4 minutes. Continue to cook for another minute, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Whisk in the butter.

Set the pastry cream over an ice bath to cool. Once it has reached room temperature, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the crisp meringue, preheat the oven to 200 F. 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium-high speed until the egg whites are frothy. Slowly stream in the granulated sugar and whip to stiff peaks. Fold in the icing sugar.

Spread the meringue on a silpat in a thin even layer using an offset spatula. Bake the meringue until crisp, about 1 hour. Do not let the meringue bake too long or it will colour and no longer be white.

Remove from the oven and cool completely, then break into irregular shards. 

For the diplomat cream, bloom the gelatine in ice water to soften. Place a 50 g of the pastry cream in a bowl set over a bowl of simmering water and stir often. Once it has reached 60 C, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pastry cream, whisking to dissolve. Remove from the water bath and quickly fold into the remaining pastry cream.

Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the pastry cream. Fold in the remaining two-thirds and transfer to a piping bag. 

Pipe the molds halfway up with diplomat cream. Place the frozen raspberry gelée disk on top, pressing gently in so the surface of the gelée is flush with the diplomat cream. Pipe diplomat cream to fill the ring, then smooth the top with an offset spatula. 

Place in the freezer and freeze for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.

Remove the rings and the acetate. Spray an even layer of white cocoa butter spray onto the cakes and freeze for 10 minutes to set. Reserve in the fridge to thaw.

When ready to serve, decorate with shards of crisp meringue. Halve a raspberry and brush the inside with neutral cold glaze and arrange on the cake, along with a whole raspberry.