Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pierre Hermés "Concorde"



Not long ago, I would have never believed I could make a Pierre Hermé recipe. For those who don't know of him, he is the Pastry God of Paris. Make that of the Universe. His shops are constantly full, with lines out the door, all for the possession and comsumption of one of his beautiful creations. I myself have waited in line for 45 minutes just to buy one of his macarons. And it was worth every second...

What gave me the courage to try one of Pierre Hermé's recipes? I made macarons. I really think that once you can successfully make macarons (and I mean French macarons, not American macaroons), you feel like you can create just about anything in the kitchen. My courage skyrocketed, and off I went.

So, I received my Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé cookbook for Christmas, and I am determined to make everything in the book. I started with the Chocolate Decadence Cake, which was so easy and probably one of the best desserts I've ever made.

Over the weekend, I had guests coming for dinner, so I decided to tackle the ever-famous "Concorde". The "Concorde" (named after the Place de la Concorde in Paris) is one of the most popular cakes at Lenotre, where Pierre Hermé did his apprenticeship. It's basically meringue and chocolate mousse. It looks a LOT more difficult than it is. As long as you have the right equipment (stand mixer, pastry bag) you can definitely make this cake.

My girlfriend said to me: "You could be a pastry chef in Paris." after she ate this cake. Now THAT'S a compliment!


Meringue:

1 cup (200 grams) confectioners' sugar

3 Tb. Dutch processed cocoa powder

4 large egg whites at room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar


-Position oven racks into thirds and preheat the oven to 250 degrees F, (120 degrees C).

-You will need three 9 inch parchment rounds (or trace two 8 1/2 inch circles on one sheet of parchment and another 8 1/2 inch circle on a second sheet of parchment).

-Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2 inch tip (1.5 cm.) (I used a 1/4 inch tip and it worked ok).


-Sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl.

-Beat egg whites at room temperature in a clean and dry mixer bowl. Once they start to form soft peaks, add half of the granulated sugar. Continue beating until you get firm peaks. Reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the remaining sugar, beat until combined.

-Remove the bowl and with a large rubber spatula gently fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar/cocoa mixture. Work delicately folding, you will lose some air and that is normal. Combine until the sugar/cocoa powder is completely absorbed.

-Spoon 2/3 of the batter in the pastry bag and begin to pipe a spiral in your circles. Start from the center and pipe a spiral all the way to the outside edge, trying to keep the disk thin (1/3 inch), uniform and with no holes. Pipe all three discs in this manner. Use an offset spatula to even out the discs or fill in holes if necessary.
-With the remaining batter, make a series of long strips everywhere you can on your parchment paper (or silpat). You will cut these up to place on the top and sides of the cake.

-Bake for 1.5 - 2 hours with the oven door ajar (use a wooden spoon), rotating the pans two or three times during baking.

-Turn off oven and leave the meringues in the oven to dry, for another 2 hours, with the door closed.

-Transfer the meringues to racks to cool, remove the parchment and store in a cool dry place, in an airtight container. (Can be made up to one week in advance).


Chocolate Mousse:

8 3/4 oz (250 grams) bittersweet chocolate (I used Valrhona)

2 sticks plus 1 1/2 Tb (8 3/4 oz, 250 grams) unsalted butter at room temp.

6 large egg whites, room temp.

1 Tb sugar

3 large egg yolks, room temp., beaten lightly


-Melt the chocolate over simmering water.

-When chocolate is melted and hot, add the egg yolks and stir together. (I did this because I didn't want to consume raw egg yolks. Pierre Hermé has you add the three egg yolks to the whipped egg whites. It worked perfectly fine the way I did it.)

-Cool to about 114 degrees F (45 degrees C)

-Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until it is very smooth. Add the cooled chocolate in three additions, beating until well blended.

-Scrape chocolate mixture into a large bowl.

-Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk.

-Whip the egg whites on high speed until they hold soft peaks. While the mixer is still on high, add the sugar and continue to whip until the whites hold firm and glossy peaks. (Here is where Pierre Hermé adds his egg yolks and whips for another 30 seconds).

-With a large rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Then fold in the rest of the egg mixture.

-Mousse should be used immediately.


ASSEMBLY:

-Use a cardboard cake round as your base (trim it if necessary).

-Put a dollop of mousse in center to hold the first meringue disc in place.

-Cover the first meringue disc with almost 1/2 of the mousse.

-Put the second meringue disc on top of the mousse, jiggling it so that it is even.

-Cover second meringue disc with 3/4 of the remaining mousse.

-Top the mousse with the third meringue disc, flat side up.

-Cover entire cake (top and sides) with remaining mousse.

-Freeze for two hours.


After freezing:
-Cut up the long strips of meringue that you made into small (1 -2 inch) pieces. Use your hands (like I did) or a serrated knife. You will use these to decorate the top and sides of the cake.

-Using a blow dryer, gently heat the cake top and sides in sections. (DON'T melt the cake!!) Add the meringue bits to the softened mousse, however you choose to add them.


Freeze for 2 hours, then wrap cake well and freeze overnight.

In the morning, remove from freezer and refrigerate until ready to serve.


(The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen and wrapped airtight for up to one month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)


If you like this cake, vote for me for Culinates Death by Chocolate contest!!!

4 comments:

FoodieFroggy said...

Wow, ce gâteau est vraiment impressionnant, aussi beau qu'en boulangerie !!

Madam Chow said...

That's wonderful and inspiring!

MrsPresley said...

mmmm! great choice for the contest :) hope we can both make it to the top 10!

i just joined the DB this month, just checking out everyone else’s blogs, wanted to say hello :)

Cakespy said...

NO WAY...very, very nice work! Way to challenge yourself and come out on top! Very nice entry.