Or, alternative title: How I was seduced by Pierre Hermé. Have you ever had a recipe that you’ve looked at and gone “Nah, I couldn’t make that!”? Ever looked through a cookbook and marvelled at some gloriously delicious looking dish, and toyed with the idea of creating it, only to then laugh and put it away as something you could never recreate?
To be honest with you, I’m easily phased from cooking certain things. After reading extensively about the difficulty of preparing artichokes, I cannot even bear to look at them at the greengrocers, and the thought of cooking eggplants (aubergines) makes me pale with fear. And, until recently, I was terrified at the thought of making muffins or working with yeast!
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There’s also the whole ‘home made pasta’ – I’d love to do it, but I’m terrified of ending up with a boiled lump of slimey dough. Many of these may sound like unsubstantiated fears to you, dear readers, but they are very real fears to my poor little heart.
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When I first bought ‘The Cook’s Book’, I was absolutely enamoured! It held step by step instructions for many things that I’ve never even tried doing on my own (such as cleaning and filleting my own fish!), and beautifully illustrated recipes that had wonderfully precise instructions to make even the most incompetent of home cooks (i.e. ME) feel like they could pull these dishes off!
I spent hours, poring over each page carefully, savouring every written word and picture…till I reached the recipe for Mozart in Pierre Hermé’s chapter of ‘Pastry & Sweet Doughs’. Sweet, cinnamony, chocolatey – this cake is the epitome of pastry-related decadence.
I looked at the pictures and gasped, and the longer I stared at them the deeper I fell in love with Monsieur Hermé’s brilliance and artistry. To say that this pastry is elegantly beautiful would be an understatement – unfortunately my pictures hardly do justice to his creation, but imagine something about 10 times more beautiful than my feeble attempt and you’ll have an idea of what I was confronted with.
I read the recipe again and again, wondering how long it would take and whether it was something I could actually attempt. I contemplated the thought, then sighed wistfully and turned the page, convinced that there was no way I could make this beauty. 6 months on, and I found myself sitting at my desk, perusing my cookbooks and looking for a suitably impressive and delicious dessert to serve at my barbeque for New Year’s Eve.
None of the cakes or pastries that I’ve found myself flipping over seem to be making me feel like they’re the right one for this occasion, and then, somehow, I find myself staring at the Mozart recipe again. However, instead of being intimidated, I felt myself drawn to the photos, I felt the connection form between me and this pastry – something ‘clicked’ and felt right, and so I carried the open book to my kitchen and began my preparations.
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And so for the rest of the day I proceeded to roll, knead, bake, mix, whip and sauté my little heart out, and after it had been constructed and chilled for an hour, I grinned to myself as I removed my the finished artwork, this symphony of flavour, from the fridge 🙂
Contained in this parcel of sugary and chocolatey goodness is 3 layers of sweet cinnamon sable pastry, and between then a dark, rich chocolately mousse that also contains diced and caramelized apples cooked in sugar and cinnamon. In other words – this pastry contains an intense flavour explosion!
Here’s the recipe for your perusal – but don’t say I didn’t warn you about it’s length 😉
Cinnamon Pate Sablee (Sweet cinnamon pastry) Recipe
- 200g butter, at room temperature and diced
- 40g icing sugar
- 35g almond meal
- 8g ground cinnamon
- 2 hard-boiled egg yolks
- 1 tbsp dark rum
- Pinch of salt
- 1g baking powder
- 200g all-purpose flour
How to Make Sweet Cinnamon Pastry Recipe
1. Place butter in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process till creamy. Add icing sugar, almond meal, ground cinnamon, egg yolks and salt. Process on medium speed till well combined.
2. Add rum and baking powder and combine well, then add the flour and combine, using the pulse button, till mixture comes together into a ball.
3. Tip the dough out of the processor and shape into a ball, then divide into 3 even pieces, wrap them in cling wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
4. Remove the dough from the fridge. Make sure your workspace is well floured, then roll out one of the balls about 3-4mm thick. Place a tart ring (approx 22cm in diameter) on top and press down lightly. (If possible do this on top of a sheet of greaseproof paper so you can transfer it straight to the oven!)
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5. Cut cleanly around the inside edge, then remove the ring and all excess dough.
6. Transfer the pastry disc to a baking tray using the base of a loose-bottomed tart tin (if you followed my tip about the baking paper, you’ll be able to pick this up and take it straight to the tray). Prick the pastry with a fork, cover loosely with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and bake for 15-20 minutes, or till pastry is lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from oven CAREFULLY (this pastry is so deliate the slightest bump will make it crack and fall apart) and leave to cool on a flat surface.
8. Repeat steps 4 -7 with the remaining 2 balls of pastry, then proceed to the assembly of the entire thing 🙂
Mozart Recipe Ingredients
- 200g Granny Smith apples, or any other sharp-flavoured apple
- 15g butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 20g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp dark rum (or 2 tbsp vanilla extract)
For the chocolate mousse:
- 250g dark chocolate
- 70g creme fraiche
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 egg whites
- 40g caster sugar
- 3 discs sweet cinnamon pastry
- 100g dark chocolate, chilled and turned into shavings (use a vegetable peeler)
- 1/4 apple, cored and thinly sliced for decoration
- sprinkle of lemon juice
- cocoa powder for dusting
- 2 cinnamon sticks
How to Make Mozart Recipe
1. Peel, core and chop apples into cubes. Heat butter in frying pan till sizzling, then add apple, cinnamon and sugar. Allow to caramelize but do not let them collapse. Sprinkle with rum and flambe (or, just add vanilla extract and fry till apple has absorbed it).
2. Chop chocolate and melt in a bain-marie. Once completely melted, remove from heat. Bring the creme fraiche and cinnamon stick to a boil in a pan, then remove the cinnamon stick and pour the cream into the melted chocolate and whisk in.
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3. Whisk eggs to firm peaks, adding the sugar in two batches. Fold a quarter of the egg whites very gently into the chocolate, then fold in the rest. Fold in the caramelized diced apples.
4. Place a 22cm pastry ring on a lined baking tray, and inside place 1 pastry disc. Cover with half the chocolate mousse, then add the second pastry disc. Cover with remaining chocolate mouse and place final pastry disc on top.
5. Refrigerate for around 1.5 – 2hrs to set the chocolate mousse, then remove from the refrigerator at least an hour before serving.
6. Remove pastry ring and use a spatula to gently press the chocolate shavings onto the side of the cake. Add the apple slices for decoration, then brush with a little lemon juice and warmed apple jelly.
7. Sprinkle the rim of the cake with a dusting of cocoa powder – use a small bowl placed on top of the cake to make an even edge, removing once the dusting is complete.
8. Carefully arrange cinnamon sticks on top, and then serve to your amazed guests 🙂
To anyone attempting this – I wish you the best of luck! It’s not difficult, but you’re going to need patience to get through it ok 😉