For the Week of November 6, 2006

This week’s pastry combines two of my favorite things: the creamy luxury of fine chocolate and the brittle snap of hard, intractable science. A near and dear friend, and one of the world’s greatest living chocolate fiends, is headed down here to Louisville for the weekend. And I know what she’ll be expecting: a delicate meal of feather-light appetizers, modestly portioned main courses, and a chocolate dessert so decadent one bite would send Mother Teresa to Hell.

What to do? Well, I’ve been wanting to do a dacquoise recipe here on the blog for a while, and this seems like a good opportunity. If you don’t know what dacquoise is, it’s basically a nut meringue, usually baked up in thin sheets and layered with either chocolate ganache or buttercream. Yet those two options are a little rich for what I have in mind.

I want a firm chocolate filling, since it’s a nice complement to the airy sponginess of the dacquoise. Room temperature ganache would do it, but that would be awfully heavy. A chilly buttercream would be the next step up in lightness, but I still think that’s too rich. Going still lighter we’re into chocolate mousse, but that’s foamy and pudding-like even when it’s refrigerated. But if I freeze it, then I’ll have both the texture and the lightness I want.

Of course then it’s also going to be very cold on the plate. So what if I served a small slice of that along with something hot? Maybe a mini version of that molten chocolate cake she likes so much? Ah yes, a duet of fire and ice. And if I make the frozen dacquoise in a pâté mold instead of a round, I can cut it into little square slices. That would further heighten its contrast next to that little round lava cake. Oh yes, it’s all coming together.

For this little project let’s use this dacquoise recipe (minus the ganache), this chocolate mousse, and this molten chocolate cake (minus the sauces). It should be a dessert to remember.

Oh, and what about the science I promised? The one thing all these recipes have in common is….you guessed it (then again maybe not): foam, one of the kitchen’s most physically and chemically complex phenomena. So loosen your belts folks, this week is gonna be a gut buster!

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