Biscuit Jaconde Imprime & Entremet for the Daring Bakers

"The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert."

A joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entremets/ formed in ring molds. A joconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbleized for a further decorative effect.

This Joconde/spongecake requires attentive baking so that it remains flexible to easily conform to the molds. If under baked it will stick to the baking mat. It over baked it will dry out and crack. Once cooled, the sponge may be cut into strips to line any shape ring mold.

Entremets (French baking term)- an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold. Think Trifle in a mold vs. a glass bowl.

A joconde imprime is the outside cake wrapper of the Entremets dessert.

Mandatory Items: Make the full biscuit joconde imprime, cut and fit into a dessert mold. Complete entremets.

Variations allowed: Use the recipe provided for the Joconde. I have baked it many times without problems. Use any fillings for your entremets. Use a mold. You can use store bought fillings, to save time, or make homemade. The real task here is making the joconde wrap properly in a beautiful molded dessert presentation.

Preparation time: This is difficult to guess at. This time will vary. Entremets portion will vary depending on your fillings.

Equipment required:
½ baking sheets or a 13” x 18” jelly roll sheet (rimmed baking sheet)
Mixer (optional)
Offset spatula
Regular spatula
Pastry comb (optional)
Spring form pan
Biscuit cutter (or ring mold, or cut PVC pipe, or whatever else you can think of to use as a mold for individual desserts)
Torte/entremets mold/Springform pan/ Trifle dish (for larger desserts)
Cling wrap
Parchment paper
Gel, paste or liquid food coloring (optional)

Joconde Sponge
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners' (icing) sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below
3 large eggs - about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted

In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
Fold in melted butter. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites - about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand) Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously. Fold in sifted flour.
Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making the cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:
Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.

Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.

Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.

Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.

Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.

Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:

Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.

Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)

Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.

The mold is done, and ready to fill.

Entremet- Filling Options:

I used a Dark Chocolate & Orange Mousee(Eggless) and a Rice Krispie insert just to add another layer in between.

Rice Krispie Insert:

3.5 oz (100g) Milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) Butter
2.1oz (60g) Rice krispies

Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Add the rice krispies and combine to coat well. Place mixture between two pieces of wax paper and roll into a thin disc, the size of your mold. I made a 7 inch disc.

Dark Chocolate & Orange Mousse:
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
12oz good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 tsp Orange extract
1 tsp Orange Zest
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp flavorless, granulated gelatin

Chill 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in refrigerator. Chill metal mixing bowl and beaters in freezer.

In a heat proof bowl on top of a double boiler, combine chocolate and butter. Melt over barely simmering water, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup whipping cream into a metal measuring cup and sprinkle in the gelatin. Allow gelatin to "bloom" for 10 minutes. Then carefully heat by swirling the measuring cup over a low gas flame. Do not boil or gelatin will be damaged. Stir mixture into the cooled chocolate and set aside.

In the chilled mixing bowl, beat cream to stiff peaks. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in two doses. There may be streaks of whipped cream in the chocolate and that is fine. Do not over work the mousse.

Transfer mousse to a large piping bag. Pipe about halfway into prepared dessert mold. Press rice krispie insert into centre. Pipe remaining mousse and make the top even using a spatula. Refreigerate for 2-4 hours.

Whipped Topping: I used a light whipped topping and covered the mousse with it. Decorate the top with cherries and tutti frutti.

Unmolding the Entremet:

Once the dessert is well frozen, loosen the clin wrap around the pan. Slowly lift the pan (outer ring) to unmold your free standing dessert. Slice using a knife run through hot water and wiped dry.

Bittergourd/Karela Curry

I've never been a fan of anything that's bitter; that's one taste sensation I can't quite tolerate. Knowing this, I've stayed away from Bittergourds all my life. Bitter gourds are often considered a vegetable when actually they are fruits and the most bitter of them all. Used widely in Indian cooking, Bitter gourds are known for their medicinal properties.

Due to its extremely bitter taste, cooking with bitter gourd is an art and the right techniques have to be incorporated. My Mother-in-law recently taught me how to cook with Bitter gourd, and boy, I must say I regret not having learned this sooner.

You will need:

2 long bittergourds, washed and wiped dry
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Salt

1/2 cup chopped onions
3 tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
2 tbsp Sesame seeds, pulsed to make a coarse powder
1 1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
TT ball sized Tamarind, soaked in water
3-4 tbsp Jaggery, powdered
Salt to taste

Trim the ends of the gourds, slit in half and remove the white soft innards and seeds.Chop the gourds into tiny pieces, should have about a cup. Transfer to bowl, add salt and turmeric. Toss well and allow to sit overnight. This process releases the bitter juices. This is an important step to make the gourd edible.

Rinse chopped gourds thoroughly 3-4 times and drain.Squeeze tamarind juice, remove pith and seeds, reserve. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and when it begins to splutter add the curry leaves and onions. Saute till onions are soft and then add the chopped gourd. Saute for a minute. Add the tamarind juice, jaggery, red chilli powder and salt as required. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes, until the gourd is cooked through.Add water if required.Also add the sesame seed powder and combine well.

Simmer for a minute and then turn off heat. This curry goes well with hot rice and ghee.

Hope you enjoy this curry as much as I did.

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