I can’t think of too many desserts that can beat a fraisier when it comes to presentation. This one, like all fancy pastries, is best done over the course of several days so you can pay close attention to each of the components. I like an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ bottomless cake square for this. Alternately you can use a square cheesecake mold. A bottomless 9″ cake circle (a stainless steel hoop is really what it is) will also work. Springform pans in either of those sizes work well too. You’ll need:
1 recipe génoise baked in a 13 x 18 sheet
about 3 1/2 cups crème mousseline
1/2 recipe simple syrup spiked with 2 tablespoons cognac (optional)
1 pound strawberries
about 8 ounces marzipan, tinted red, yellow or green
Cut an 8″ square piece of cardboard to fit the square pan, or a 9″ round one of that’s the shape you’re using. Using the cardboard square as a guide, cut two squares out of the sheet of génoise. If the form you’re using doesn’t have a bottom, place the cardboard piece on the bottom to serve as a base. Place one of the génoise squares on top of it and brush it with the cognac syrup.
Next select the 12-15 largest strawberries from your batch and slice off the tops so they’ll sit upright when stood upside-down. Split those down the middle with a sharp knife and arrange them cut side-out against the sides of the mold. Spoon in enough crème mousseline to come about half way up the strawberry halves, gently pressing the cream into the gaps between the strawberries. Cut the remaining strawberries into pieces and lay them out on the mousseline layer. Add on all but the last few tablespoons of mousseline. Place the remaining génoise square on top of the mousseline and brush it with cake syrup. Place your cardboard square on top of the fraisier (or a second piece if you need to cut one) and press it down gently to encourage the mousseline to fill in any gaps between the strawberries.
Lastly, roll out the marzipan to a thickness of less than 1/8 of an inch. Spread the last few tablespoons of the mousseline over the top of the fraisier to act as a sort of glue. Lay the marzipan over the top of the fraisier and trim the edges. Chill the fraisier for a minimum of 4 hours. Unmold it by applying a rag soaked in hot water to the sides, then gently pushing the cake up from the bottom until the cake square is freed. Decorate with strawberry slices and/or royal icing patters as you like! Chill until ready to serve.