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. Download the original challenge recipe.
Entremets (French baking term)- An ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold.
Joconde imprime – The outside cake wrapper of the Entremets dessert.
About ten years ago my mom went to Paris and one of the items I requested, from the long list I gave her, was a cookbook. She came through in spades with L’art du Dessert (along with a great cast iron La Creuset crepe pan) . Of course, it’s in French, and while I can translate the ingredient lists, some of the directions are a little more difficult to translate. So I’ve only made one or two recipes. But it has gorgeous photos.
My favorite chapter to look at was the one on something called imprime. I was blown away by the photos of these desserts. They were so perfect looking, so beautiful, almost unreal. I didn’t think I could ever make anything half so beautiful. Well, I still can’t, but I still made a fair attempt for this month’s challenge.
I made all the components for the inside layers first and saved making the imprime last. Which was a blessing and a curse. A curse, because by the time I got around to making it, I was really tired of beating egg whites and melting chocolate and doing dishes, so I didn’t put the attention into it that I should have. A blessing, because even though I did mess up, it was not irretrievable because everything else was ready to go.
In the first place, I should have piped the chocolate biscuit dough onto the Silpat so that I would have a finer design and a more flexible cake. Second, I should have checked the oven sooner than I did. I checked it at around 11 minutes and it was already browning; in other words, overdone and too dry, according to the recipe instructions. It would probably crack when I tried to work with it.
I was in an absolute panic that I would have to start again. But then I remembered working with roulades and jelly rolls. I decided to cover the cake to keep it warm and to generate some condensation to keep it moist, and I switched to a larger mold pan so that I wouldn’t have to curve the strips as deeply.
I was able to cut and mold the strips before they cooled off and firmed up, and then I could take my time layering the inside.
Of course, dreaming up the fillings was the best part of the challenge. My French cookbook had a “fruit cocktail” version that looked delicious (NOT using canned fruit cocktail). But in the end I settled for the old standbys of chocolate, caramel and peanut butter.
I made Rose Beranbaum’s chocolate genoise from Heavenly Cakes, a peanut butter filling from a torte recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking book; a salted caramel, milk chocolate mousse; a top layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache.
When it came time to eat it, my joconde imprime wrapper was too dry, but I think I might try this again, and I learned a few valuable lessons for next time. And the inside layers were quite luscious. As a side note, Rose Beranbaum’s chocolate genoise cake is fabulous.
All in all, I felt very empowered making this recipe and discovering it’s not just a fantasy creation from the photographs in a cookbook.