Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pear Mousse Cake

This was yet again my husband's one of the several demands for his birthday cake. It has now become a ritual where he looks forward to Jan when he can go wild with his thoughts of flavors he likes and wants. I still don't understand why I give him the leverage to choose the flavors. He always ends up with weirdest combinations with high expectations. And then here I am trying to figure out what to do and how to put it all together.

So this year he wanted the combination of pears and walnut. He wanted pears for sure in the whole cake and not just as a topping. So after deliberating for a while I decided to go for Pear Mousse on Walnut biscuit topped with caramelized pears. The result is as you see.

Needless to say it was a ManU themed cake and a ManU themed birthday. My husband is a huge ManU fan and thus my brother who now lives in London decided to send him a ManU jersey for his birthday. On receiving the parcel I got the idea to convert the birthday into a ManU birthday and thus the logo.


Walnut sponge:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 80g / a little more than 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup almonds, peeled
  • a little less than 2/3 cup icing sugar (or caster)
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
Pear mousse:

  • 2.2 lbs pears (make sure the flesh is firm)
  • 2 and 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 and 1/2 Tsp. gelatin powder (if you are not sure about the firmness use 3 Tsp. Gelatin powder)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners / castor sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. butter

1) The Walnut Sponge:

  • Preheat the oven to 340 F. Line the bottom of a 20 cm spring form pan with parchment paper. 
  • Chop walnuts coarsely. You want to make sure they are big enough but they can go through the hole in your piping bag. Grind almonds finely with icing sugar (if you don’t have icing sugar, just whizz quickly some normal sugar, then add the almonds to it until everything is a fine powder). Whisk egg whites until stiff, then fold in the remaining castor sugar and whisk for a couple more minutes until well incorporated. Mix the flour with the ground almonds, the walnuts and a pinch of salt. Add one tablespoon at a time to the whipped egg whites, mixing gently in order not to lose too much air. When the meringue is uniform, put it in a piping bag (or use a big zip lock bag with a corner cut off) and spread it on the prepared spring form pan. Cook for about 20 minutes until the outside is golden and they are soft but dried. Leave to cool.
2) The Mousse:

  • Peel, core and chop the pears in small cubes. Add sugar and butter to a wide pan, and when they are melted and caramelized add the pears. The caramel will first solidify and then melt with the water released from the pears. Let it cook until they are soft but still retaining their shape. Make sure they don’t burn: if they are particularly unripe, you may need to add a few tablespoons of water. Let cool slightly, meanwhile soak gelatin in 1/4 cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes or more. Let it cool. 
  • Process about 3/4 of the pear cubes together with all their juices to a smooth pure. Put processed pears back to the pan and add the gelatin mix. Mix until the gelatin has dissolved, then let it cool off completely. When the pear puree is cold, whip the cream, and then gently combine until uniform. (This is where my husband had a drooping face since the mousse wasn't the color he thought it would. He was under the impression that Pear Mousse will be green is color since pear is green. But he forgot that inside the pear is white in color. So the mousse was light brownish. So to make him happy I had to add green food color to make the mousse green)
  • Put the cooled mixture in the sring form pan on top of the walnut sponge.
  • Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or possibly overnight.
3) Caramelized Pears:

  • Peel, core and cut 1 pear in four quadrants and then slice each quadrant thinly.
  • Add 1 cup sugar to a heavy bottom pan along with 1/2 tsp. butter. Let is caramelize
  • Add pears and let the pears caramelize well. Keep coating the pears so that the caramel is not burnt and all pears are cooked and well caramelized.
  • Put this in a mixing bowl and coat the pears well again. Now start assembling the pears in a circle to cover the top of the cake (I did it the next day morning after the mousse was well set and almost 5 hours before serving)
  • Add 1/2 tsp. gelatin in the remaining caramel and drizzle it on top of the pear decor.
  • Put it in the fridge and let it cool and set before serving.
4) Serving Tips:

  • Take the spring form pan out of the fridge and wrap the side of the pan with a warm towel.
  • Run a knife around the cake to loosen it a little.
  • Open the spring form pan and serve the cake.