Given my love for fancy, multi-component desserts, it’s not surprising that someone gifted me a silicone mold perfect for making mirror-glazed mousse cakes. What’s surprising is that the mold has been sitting in my cabinet for months without ever having been used!
With all this extra time at home lately, I decided that it was time to take the plunge. Since we’re coming up on strawberry season I figured that I could use them as my base flavor, and when I found myself with a half-drunk bottle of prosecco I knew that I had a winning combination. After that it was just a matter of browsing recipes online to find components that I thought would work well together.
So what we have here is a strawberry-champagne mousse, encasing layers of white chocolate panna cotta, strawberry gelée, and genoise cake. It’s all topped off with a mirror glaze. The panna cotta turned out a bit bland on its own, but the mousse was delicious– the champagne flavor really came through– and the gelée was nice and fruity, providing a good contrast. While I was initially dubious about the sponge cake (it was a bit tough the first day), it softened up well and I’ve come to realize that a sturdy cake is necessary to keep its shape in a moisture-heavy dessert like this.
As for assembly, the donut shape of the mold required the extra step of cutting a hole in the center of my round-shaped component layers– a little difficult after they were frozen solid– but aside from that things went relatively smoothly. Since my mold was reasonably small, I had enough components left over to make four mini-entremets as well– I used small dessert rings and cut out circles from larger layers to fit.
I had a few issues with the glaze, I’ll admit– and I can’t tell for sure whether they’re with the recipe or the temperature. It slid right off the frozen dessert (the main one, at least), and was just very thin overall. I barely managed to get a nice coat on the big dessert, though the small ones turned out a bit better.
At first I was inclined to think that the glaze was too hot– since my first attempt at mirror glaze ended up too thick despite being the “correct” temperature of 90 degrees F, I’d decided to go a little warmer with 94 degrees, which was still within the correct range according to online sources. Being too hot is a frequent cause of too-thin glaze, and the fact that I poured my small desserts later (and they turned out better) did seem to support the idea that temperature was the issue. However, even once the glaze had cooled significantly it was still pretty thin when poured, and remained wet and sticky after hours in the fridge. This was not supposed to happen!
I decided to make a chart of several mirror glaze recipes to compare their relative proportions of water, gelatin, and chocolate, and discovered two things: My glaze recipe was significantly lower in both gelatin and chocolate than the other recipes, and the recipe I’d used for my galaxy cake (my first attempt) was significantly higher in gelatin than the others. What that means is that my first try at glaze was probably too thick not because of temperature, but because of excess gelatin– and my latest try was too thin because it was hotter and because it had far less gelatin and chocolate than it was supposed to.
So the glaze may have been a bit disappointing, but it didn’t detract from the overall dessert, and this just means I’ll have to do a little more research (delicious, delicious research) to figure out a recipe that works for me.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this fabulous dessert! If you want to try it yourself, here are the instructions/recipes:
Order of operations:
- Make panna cotta and chill in mold.
- Make gelée and pour over panna cotta. Freeze together overnight.
- Make genoise and cool completely.
- Make mousse and fill mold, inserting frozen panna cotta/gelée layer and genoise layer.
- Freeze at least 4 hours (overnight would make it easier to thaw in time for serving the next day)
- Make mirror glaze and pour over frozen cake. Thaw in refrigerator until sliceable.
White Chocolate Panna Cotta
(makes about 2 1/2 cups)
2 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3.5 oz. (100g) white chocolate chips
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
- Line a round cake pan with plastic wrap.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over milk and set aside to bloom.
- Heat cream and milk in the microwave until hot but not boiling.
- Pour.over white chocolate chips and add sugar and vanilla. Let sit for a minute or two, then stir until smooth.
- Stir in bloomed gelatin and keep stirring until melted and smooth.
- Pour mixture into plastic-lined cake pan and chill until firm.
I will note that while I usually shy away from using skim milk for panna cotta, as it forms a weird gel at the bottom, the addition of white chocolate apparently fixed this issue. Good to know!
(makes 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp. gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 lb. strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
- In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water and set aside.
- Chop strawberries and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Heat until boiling, then simmer about 8 minutes, until soft and liquidy.
- Using immersion blender (or regular blender), puree until smooth. Strain out solids.
- Add bloomed gelatin to strawberry puree and stir until melted in.
- Let cool to room temperature, then pour over chilled panna cotta. Freeze.
Genoise: (from David Lebovitz)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (75g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (90g) cake flour (or 1 tbs. cornstarch with enough all-purpose flour to make up the rest of the weight)
2 tablespoons (35g) melted unsalted butter at room temperature
1. Line a pan with parchment and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for about 5-10 minutes, until fluffy enough that a ribbon of egg dropped from the beater will rest on top of the batter rather than sinking in.
3. Add vanilla.
4. Sift flour over eggs and fold in carefully with a spatula.
5. Add melted butter and continue to fold until combined. You just want to avoid streaks of butter, so don’t over-mix or your batter will deflate.
6. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely before slicing.
Note: I baked mine in a 6″ round pan and two mini-loaf pans. I cut my 6″ layer in half horizontally and used one layer in my large dessert. The two mini-loaf pans were cut into smaller circles for mini desserts.
Strawberry Champagne Mousse (from The Cake Eating Company)
100ml champagne/prosecco (1/3 cup)
50g sugar (1/4 cup)
350g strawberries (about 1 lb.)
16g gelatin (5 1/4 tsp.)
50ml cold water (4 tbs.)
500ml cream (2 cups)
- Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water and set aside.
- In a pot, combine strawberries, sugar, and champagne. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and puree until smooth. Stir in gelatin until dissolved. Set aside until it cools to room temperature. It will be very liquidy, not thick like the gelee puree.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks, then fold in the cooled strawberry puree. It’ll want to sink to the bottom and stay there, so keep folding until it’s fully incorporated.
- Remove frozen panna cotta/gelée from freezer and, if necessary, cut to fit mold.
- Trim sponge cake to fit mold.
- Pour mousse into mold about 1/3 of the way full.
- Insert panna cotta/gelée, then top with cake layer.
- Fill the mold the rest of the way full. Freeze until solid.
Mirror Glaze (adapted from Chef Iso)
Note: This is NOT the glaze I used for the desserts here– this is one that I think would have worked out better, had I used it instead. Good luck!
7 tsp (21 g) Gelatin Powder
2.5 oz (71 g) Water
10 oz (300 g) Granulated Sugar
7 oz by weight (200 g) Sweetened Condensed Milk
5 oz (141.75 g) Water
12.25 oz (350 g) White Chocolate
- Bloom gelatin in the 2.5 oz. of water and set aside.
- Take the 5 oz. of water and combine with sugar and condensed milk in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer.
- Remove from heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin.
- Strain hot mixture over the white chocolate and let sit for a few minutes before blending with an immersion blender to thoroughly combine. You can add white food coloring at this point to give a neutral base for cooler colors (otherwise the white chocolate gives it a warm tone).
- Strain again and add food coloring as desired.
- Let cool to 92 degrees F before pouring.
Place frozen dessert on a rack, or balance on a cup set over a sheet pan. Pour glaze over the dessert, wait for it to set for a few minutes, then lift off and scrape any drips before placing on your serving platter.
Refrigerate until mousse thaws– about 4-5 hours. Serve.
I will note that for some reason, after I sliced into this dessert and stored the leftover portion in the refrigerator, the leftovers started to weep liquid. The un-cut mini desserts didn’t weep at all, so it wasn’t just a function of time– I have no idea what exactly caused it.m Just means you have to eat it all at once!