December 29, 2008

The Daring Baker 2008 Season Finale: Entremets

It's been quite a season for the Daring Bakers. Canadian Baker Jen cast the tart and tangy lemon in the January episode: Lemon Meringue Pie. February brought a guest appearance by Julia Child; March was the month of Dorie's Perfect Party Cake. April Popped, and in May we headed for the Opera. Over the summer and into the fall we were allowed to choose our own star for June's Danish Braid, the setting for July's Filbert Gateau and the supporting cast for Eclairs, Lavash and Pizza. In November it was my turn to choose the leading lady, and with Alex and Jenny's able assistance we put sugar in the spotlight.

And now we're down to the season finale, and what a finale it's turned out to be. This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen Entremets, a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.


A frozen confection constructed in six acts: a Dacquoise (or nut meringue), a freezer-stable mousse, a creme brulee insert, a ganache insert, a praline feuillete insert (a candy and crushed crunchy cookie layer), and icing. Hilda and Marion gave us a basic plot, some guidance on casting and a script from which to work, but left a lot of latitude for editorial license and creative direction.

I started with a hazelnut dacquoise, a vanilla bean brulee and a coconut and "Special K" feuillete, all of which took up temporary residence in the garage freezer for an overnight rest. So far, smooth sailing.

Things started to falter a bit with the dark chocolate mousse. I'm not sure what went wrong, but when we attempted to whisk the warm sugar syrup into the beaten egg yolks, we got more than a little bit of spun sugar. Not once but twice. We didn't have time for a third attempt, and our mousse didn't seem to suffer in taste or in texture, but if anyone can explain where we erred it would be useful for next time. John took the lead with the dark chocolate ganache and it seemed to go smoothly.

Assembly also went without much of a hitch. Dissolving the cocoa powder in the icing presented a bit of a challenge but again, it didn't seem to have a negative affect on the finished product.

I LOVED this challenge; it epitomizes my Daring Baker experience. I'd never have approached this recipe on my own. And given the amount of effort it required I'd think several times before attempting it again. But before the Daring Bakers I'd have dismissed it as above my head. And there's a fair amount of pride in knowing I'm capable of creating a beautiful and delicious showpiece dessert.


That's a wrap.

But stay tuned... the 2009 series premiere airs January 29.

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ChefSara said...

i also had the sugar issue with the mousse. i think the 244 degrees they said to heat the syrup to was a little too high. when i tried again the second time, i only cooked it til it reached the lower end of the softball stage (around 240F) and it worked just fine. since it will keep cooking once you take it off the burner, i think if you cook til 244, then by the time you add it, it will already be at or close to the hard crack stage. you really need softball stage.

but your log looks great! turned out much better than my little disaster!

Granny Two Shoes said...

Interesting blog, thank you for sharing this

Jenny said...

Glad you were able to join in this month, it is always fun to see what you end up with. And you had help this month? That is great!

Jacque said...

Congratulations to you for seeing it through. I enjoyed your writeup :)

Hilda said...

Hey Dolores, I'm really glad you enjoyed the challenge. It turns out we were about 300 who actually did it, so I guess Marion and I really coaxed the Daring out of the Bakers. I'm going to guess that the problem you had with the sugar for the mousse comes out of it being a very small amount for a Kitchen Aid and needing to pour it in a particular fashion into the bowl. Since I did the Italian meringue which is essentially the same thing but with egg whites, I poured my syrup against the edge of the bowl in a very thin stream because that's what I've always done when I've used handbeaters (this was the first time I did it with my KA). I got a tiny bit of spun sugar but not enough for it to be significant to the meringue and I never had that problem when I used handbeaters (probably because I could direct where the beater was rather than the mechanical motion of the KA). Either way, your log looks great and I'm happy you derived a sense of real accomplishment out of getting it done.