Blackcurrant and Violet Mousse Hedeghogs – an absolute delight

These little delights certainly tested my skills and also resulted in a huge thumbs up from my harshest critic, the beloved-whose-palate-must-be-pleased-and-thrilled.  They are a delicious confection from Adriano Zumbo (more on him later) consisting of 10 elements based around blackcurrants which certainly tested my skills and used ingredients I have not come across before.

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The occasion this time was my sister and her family coming to stay for the first time in a while, so I wanted to do something special. These lovely desserts were certainly not perfect but everyone at the table first fell silent as the flavours burst on them, and then erupted into a chorus of “Oooh” in full appreciation of these fabulous little things.

I first came across Australian Patissiere Adriano Zumbo on his Netflix baking competition show “Zumbo’s Just Desserts”.  The show itself is annoyingly produced spending far too much time on the emotional journey of the contestants rather than the baking itself. To add insult to injury, the talents and knowledge of Zumbo and English baker Rachel Khoo were utterly wasted, leaving me wanting far more technical input from them than the dumbed down production values allowed for.

What hooked me though was that Zumbo himself is obviously a baker of great originality, so I had to get his recipe book “The Zumbo Files”.  Whilst available easily on Kindle, getting a hard copy in the UK is not straightforward, with crazy prices currently being quoted on Amazon (a cookbook for £635 – are you kidding me?), but I finally found one for a normal cook book price and 3 months later it turned up.  It certainly didn’t disappoint – beautifully produced with some wonderful flavour combinations though a detailed read made it clear his recipes have not been simplified for the home baker.

This recipe caught my eye for some reason. He calls it “4 Times the Vitamin C”, though I have renamed it Blackcurrant and Violet Mousse Hedgehogs as I think their resemblance to those much loved and now endangered garden animals makes this a more resonant name for a UK readership (sorry Mr Zumbo …….). Madonna Domes did come a close second mind, as they are certainly reminiscent of the eponymous singer’s bustier outfits from the 90s.

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They consist of:

  • a base of pistachio dacquoise, covered in a thin layer of white chocolate
  • topped with a crunchy layer made of almond and pistachio praline and feuilletine
  • with a dome of violet mousse, with a small blackcurrant jelly insert
  • covered first in blackcurrant marshmallow, and then glazed with a blackcurrant glaze
  • and then covered in blackcurrant mini meringues

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A few things make this stand out from similar entremet style confections I have made recently.

  1. The balance of violet and blackcurrant is perfectly judged – violet is a tricky flavour which can verge on giving you the feeling like you are eating a bar of soap if overdone
  2. The crunch from the feuilletine and praline layer and meringue adds to the interest and has highlighted how important textural differences in a dessert are
  3. The caramel flavour of the praline offsets the fruitiness of the blackcurrant perfectly

What sets Adriano Zumbo’s recipes apart from others like this, is the extra mile he goes with to add flavour and texture.  So the base isn’t just a dacquoise base, it has chocolate feuilletine (crunchy sugary flakes that you need to buy online), with 2 types of nut praline and chopped nuts on it too.  The mousse is not just a custard mousse but also adds Pate a Bombe to it – basically egg yolks whisked with hot syrup – which ups the richness and egg flavour of the mousse. You don’t just glaze the domes, you double glaze them – once with marshmallow and then again with a fruit based glaze that is packed with flavour.

Whilst all this makes the recipe complex in the number of stages, as with all these kinds of dessert, they can be made well in advance and left in the freezer, and if you are an experienced baker none of these elements are particularly hard on their own. Time-wise you roughly need a whole day and 2 evenings to make these, with 2 overnights to allow key elements to freeze.

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This was definitely not a trouble free bake.

  • The meringues took an age to dry out, blocking 2 ovens whilst I had a Brioche loaf merrily over-proving waiting for its turn to be baked.
  • Yet again I had problems with the custard based mousse being too liquid so I really do need to work out what I am doing wrong here
  • I had particular problems with the marshmallow layer which came out too liquid, which then disrupted the fruit glaze which didn’t really stay on.
  • I am still not convinced that the glaze would have stayed on anyway but who am I to question the master

I was particularly mystified how marshmallow could not have egg white in it, but having contacted Adriano Zumbo himself, he has assured me the recipe is as it should be.  I have reproduced it as per the book but my recommendation would  be to buy the inverted sugar rather than make it yourself as I am pretty convinced my own version was too liquid.  Fortunately the meringues cover up the worst sins of the glaze and on a candle lit dinner table my guests couldn’t see what I could.

The other revelation were the meringues.  The recipe uses freeze dried blackcurrant powder folded into the meringue mixture.  This not only provides the colour but also intense fruit flavour in the meringue itself. A brief search of the internet has revealed that you can get virtually any fruit in freeze dried powder which opens up a whole new avenue for recipes and flavours.

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The Recipe

This recipe makes 12 domes

“Storecupboard” Items You Need

These items can all be made in advance and stored for later use.  Obviously if you don’t have them in the cupboard you will need to allow for time to make these as well.

Specialist Equipment

The Stages

  1. Make all your store cupboard items
  2. Make your Blackcurrant Jelly and freeze it overnight
  3. Make your Dacquoise Base and set in the freezer (this has three stages)
  4. Make the Violet Mousse  (this also has 3 stages)
  5. Assemble your domes and freeze them  overnight – at this stage they could stay in the freezer in mould for a few weeks
  6. Make your Blackcurrant Glaze and set aside
  7. Make your Blackcurrant Marshmallow
  8. Immediately dip your domes into the marshmallow and put in the freezer for an hour to set
  9. Glaze with the Blackcurrant Glaze
  10. Decorate with your meringues
  11. Defrost for 1-2 hours and serve

Blackcurrant Jelly

Ingredients

The Method

  • Combine the citric acid and warm water together in a small bowl and stir until dissolved
  • Put all your blackcurrant puree in a pan
  • Heat until warm
  • Mix the sugar and pectin together
  • Whisk into the blackcurrant puree and carry on whisking until the mixture comes to the boil
  • Take off the heat and stir in 3g of the citric acid water
  • Stir until combined
  • Pour into your 4cm mould making at least 12 mini domes
  • Put in the freezer and allow to freeze overnight (or for at least 7 hours)

Dacquoise Base

This consists of 3 elements

  • The pistachio dacquoise sponge base
  • A thin layer of melted white chocolate
  • The feuilletine praline  crunch topping

Pistachio Dacquoise

The Ingredients

  • 200g egg whites (about 6 eggs)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 20g pistachio paste
    • you can buy this or make it by toasting nuts, adding vegetable oil at a rate of 12% of weight of nuts  (so for 100g of nuts you need 12g of oil) and grinding to a paste in the liquidiser
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 30g ground pistachios
  • 160g icing sugar sieved
  • 70g white chocolate

The Method

  • heat your oven to 180C / 160C fan
  • line a baking tray with baking parchment marked out with a rectangle that is 20cm wide and 30cm long
  • put your egg whites into a bowl
  • whisk until stiff
  • whilst whisking, add your caster sugar one spoon at a time whisking until stiff peaks form
  • take some meringues and mix your pistachio paste in, and then fold back into your meringue
  • mix the ground almonds, pistachios and icing sugar together and fold into your meringue
  • spread over your baking parchment in an even thin layer – dotting the mixture across the parchment in even lumps helps make this even
  • bake the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown
  • take out the oven and allow to cool
  • to remove it from the baking parchment, lay a new piece of parchment over the top, place a baking sheet on top of it and then flip the whole lot upside down and peel the the old parchment layer off carefully.  Then place another new piece of parchment on this, and then flip it all back over again
  • once cool melt the white chocolate and then spread it over the dacquoise in a thin layer – followed immediately by the next stage ……..

Pistachio Crunch

The Ingredients

  • 90g Almond Praline
  • 90g Pistachio Praline
  • 20g Cocoa Butter
  • 60g Feuilletine flakes (or cornflakes if you can’t get hold of feuilletine flakes but please try to find them online)
  • 11g pistachios chopped and toasted
  • 1g salt

The Method

  • put the pralines and salt in a bowl
  • melt the cocoa butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
  • pour onto the praline and mix in
  • fold in the feuilletine flakes and pistachios
  • spread the whole mixture over the dacquoise layer (the wet white chocolate helps it all stick down)
  • put the entire thing in the freezer for 30 minutes until it has set
  • cut out 12 6cm circles
  • put in the freezer until frozen hard

Vanilla Violet Mousse

The Violet Mousse consists of 3 elements

  • Creme Anglaise (custard)
  • Pate a Bombe
  • The final assembly into a mousse

Creme Anglaise

The Ingredients

  • 210 g milk
  • 65g egg yolks (from 2-3 eggs)
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1tsp cornflour

The Method

  • put the milk in a pan and bring to the boil
  • put the egg yolk, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until pale yellow
  • pour the hot milk over the egg mixture whisking all the time
  • pour it all back in the pan and heat very slowly until it thickens and covers the back of a spoon
    • NOTE: Never let the mixture go above 85C or else it will curdle so keep that thermometer in it.  Curdling happens really fast and suddenly so don’t be tempted to hurry the mixture along
  • pour the mixture through a sieve to take out any lumps
  • cover with cling film touching the surface to stop a skin forming
  • set aside

Pate a Bombe

The Ingredients

  • 10g water
  • 70g sugar
  • 50g egg yolks

The Method

  • put the water and sugar in a pan
  • put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl ready for whisking
  • heat the water and sugar until it reaches 123C
  • start whisking the egg yolks on high speed and then pour the hot sugar mixture over it
  • carry on whisking until the mixture thickens and cools to room temperature
  • cover and set aside

Vanilla Violet Mousse

The Ingredients

  • 300g creme anglaise
  • 120g pate a bombe
  • 6g gelatine leaves
  • 36g cold water
  • seeds of one vanilla bean (or equivalent in vanilla bean paste or extract)
  • 4 drops of violet extract (AND ABSOLUTELY NO MORE)
  • 210g double cream

The Method

  • cut up your gelatine leaves and soak them in a bowl with the 36g of water
  • reheat 1/3rd of the creme anglaise to 50C
  • add in the gelatine and water and stir until dissolved
  • add this to the remaining creme anglaise
  • add the vanilla and violet extract and stir in
  • cool to 20C
  • whip the double cream to stiff peaks
  • fold into the creme anglaise
  • fold in the pate a bombe into the remaining mixture

First Assembly Stage

Do this stage as soon as the Vanilla Violet Mousse is ready.  You will need

  • fill your 7cm moulds half full with the violet mousse (pipe if it is thick enough)
    • if the mousse is very liquid put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to encourage it to start to set
  • take your blackcurrant jellies out of their mould and insert in the main mould
  • fill in around the jellies and cover them with a thin layer of mousse
  • place your dacquoise discs on top with the crunch layer facing down, filling in around the edge
    • ensure the discs are level with the top of the moulds
  • clean off the moulds of any excess and put in the freezer until frozen hard

Blackcurrant Glaze

The Ingredients

  • 95g blackcurrant puree
  • 30g lemon juice
  • 90g water
  • 210g caster sugar
  • 6g pectin
  • 35g glucose

The Method

  • put the puree, water and lemon juice in a  pan and heat to 45C
  • mix the pectin and 20g of sugar together and whisk into the puree mixture
  • add the remaining glucose and sugar and bring to the boil until the mixture thickens
  • cover with cling film touching the surface and set aside to cool
  • it can be kept in the fridge until you are ready to use it

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Blackcurrant Marshmallow

This one was my nemesis.  You make it once your mousses are fully frozen and then dip your domes into it, let it set and then glaze them with the Blackcurrant Glaze.

I have reproduced the recipe and suggest you use commercially bought inverted sugar if you are not confident your home made variety is right.  It is the gelatine, I have been told by the master himself, that whips up to form the marshmallow.  I ended up with a liquid glaze like mixture but what you should end up is a pliable sticky marshmallow mixture.  If you don’t get this, try adding more gelatine by soaking a few more leaves, heating up a bit of the marshmallow  and then stir the gelatine back in to dissolve it, add it all back to the main mixture and re-whip …. none of which I tried but it ought to work.

Instructions are all below.  the pictures show my thin marshmallow glaze – as I have already said it ought be thicker and less translucent.

The Ingredients

  • 13g gelatine leaves
  • 60g water
  • 320g invert sugar
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100g water
  • 120g glucose
  • 100g blackcurrant puree
  • 50g cocoa butter

The Method

  • cut the gelatine into squares and soak in the 60g of water
  • put half the inverted sugar in a mixing bowl ready for whipping
  • put the sugar, water, glucose and remaining inverted sugar into a pan
  • heat until reaches 113C
  • whilst whisking, pour it into the bowl with the invert sugar and continue whisking
  • heat the blackcurrant puree up in the microwave for a few minutes and pour into the mixture….and continue whisking
  • add in the gelatine and soaking water .. and continue whisking
  • melt the cocoa butter not allowing it to reach more than 45C and add it to the bowl
  • continue whisking and eventually it should thicken and increase in volume
  • don’t stop whisking until the mixture reaches room temperature

Final Assembly Stage

  • put a cooling rack over a baking sheet with lips to catch any drips
  • de-mould your domes
  • stick a fork in the base of your domes and dip them in the marshmallow – your fork needs to be stuck in nice and deep to enable you to do this without losing your dome in the marshmallow
  • place it back on the cooling rack
  • put in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour to set
  • reheat the glaze to 35C
  • put it into a jug and pour over your domes confidently ensuring they are covered on all sides
  • put the domes in the freezer for 15 minutes to help set the glaze slightly
  • lift them onto your serving plate one at a time and stick on the meringues working bottom up
  • place on the fridge for 1 more hour to get the glaze to set properly
  • take out 1-2 hours before hand to defrost
  • SERVE!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Ein wunderbares, ein spannendes und ganz sicher unglaublich köstliches Dessert!! Ich bin begeistert!

    Like

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