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  • Writer's pictureRita Selles

Pastry Class # 3: Ganache and Mousse

It was a grey Saturday afternoon and I was very ready for another pastry class. With three other people, we made three different desserts: Vendôme, Truffe, and Palet Lait. Since the different components of these cakes could not be used in more than one cake, the class took 3 1/2 hours instead of the regular 3 hours. Time flew by as we were busy the entire time.

The Vendôme

I'm not sure why this cake is called a Vendôme. Perhaps it is named after one of the main towns on the Loire River or after the very ritzy square in Paris called "Place Vendôme".

Like many French pastries, the cake is round, although it could also be square or rectangular and has a thin cake base, called a "biscuit". This one is chocolate and happens to be gluten free.

The second layer to this cake is a "crémeux", which is basically a fruit-flavored "crème anglaise" or custard. This one is raspberry but it also could be mango, lemon, etc. The custard is added to the cake base and then refrigerated so that it will set.

The third layer is a chocolate mousse. It is then placed in the freezer so that that the final thin layer of raspberry jam can be applied easily.

The metal circle is removed, melted chocolate is applied to the sides and a decoration to the top.

A friend with whom I had done English/French conversation 6 years ago invited us to their place for Sunday lunch. I was happy to be able to share this cake with them. It was creamy, light, and not too sweet. A very good finish to a wonderful meal.

Truffe or Truffle Cake

This dessert is like one large truffle set on a thin layer of cake. Sounds pretty good, right?

It starts with an almond cake base—a "biscuit amande".

The ganache is made from hot cream poured over chocolate. A few quick stirs and the melted chocolate combines with the cream. The ganache is cooled and then, to make it "lighter", it is slightly whipped. The ganache is spread over the cake base and refrigerated to set.

Once set, the metal ring is removed, a thin layer of melted dark chocolate is applied to the top and sides, followed by cocoa powder.

Doesn't that look great? Yes, it is very good!

Palet Lait or Milk Disk

The literal translation doesn't really explain too much or sound too appetizing. A "palet" is French for disk. You may be familiar with "Palets Bretons", a popular round butter cookie found in all French supermarkets. The "palet" refers to the shape of the cake then. "Lait" refers to the milk chocolate that is used to make this cake. So now this makes a bit more sense. We have a round cake with milk chocolate. But it is more than just a milk chocolate cake.

It starts with a "biscuit génoise" or a sponge cake base.

The second layer, a caramel ganache, is made by cooking some sugar to make a caramel. Cream is added to the liquid sugar and then this combination is poured over the milk chocolate. The ganache is cooled and the final step is to add softened butter. This is now a very rich filling. The filling is place on the cake base and put in the refrigerator to set. The cake now resembles a disk—thin and round.

Once set, the metal circle is removed and the cake is finished with more milk chocolate. This is a cool technique: melted chocolate is spread very thinly on a piece of marble or even a tile that has been in the freezer. Once the chocolate comes in contact with the cold marble, it hardens. With a palet knife it is quickly removed and draped over the cake. The chocolate hardens completely and acts as a shell over the cake. A quick shake of powdered sugar and the cake or "palet" is finished.

To eat this dessert, the chocolate shell lifts off the cake. Small slices are recommended since it is quite rich. Break the shell into several smaller pieces and serve with the cake. Personally, I think I would like a dark chocolate shell over the cake. I really liked the creamy caramel ganache. Wow!

Vendôme Palet Lait Truffe

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Nov 12, 2019

Rita, we'd love to have you do some pastry classes when you return! These look delicious and fun!

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