A Holiday Recipe Inspired by the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC

By Patricia Semple

I wrote this recipe as a tribute to the Metropolitan Opera House in NY. When I get to attend the opera, I love to eat at the Grand Tier restaurant. The layers in the cake represent the levels in the Opera House. It will be fun to see how many New Yorkers realize that when they read the recipe.

GRAND TIER

Tier one:  Chocolate Genoise

Tier two: Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Tier Three:  Chocolate glaze with fresh Raspberries

Tier Four:  Surrounded by marbleized Red and Milk Chocolate Plaques.

Accomplish this and your performance level will have reached the

“GRAND TIER” CHOCOLATE GENOISE:                                                                     

Chocolate Genoise:

6 extra large eggs, room temperature

1 cup granulated vanilla sugar

2/3 cup cake flour, sifted

1/3cup cocoa, sifted

1/2 cup unsalted cultured butter, melted

2 ounces Cellebaut Belgium bittersweet chocolated,melted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, homemade

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse:

1package unflavored gelatin

1 12 ounce package of frozen raspberries, thawed

2 1/2 tablespoons Chambord Liqueur or Lion’s Breath liqueur

1 2/3 cups heavy cream

1 package Oetkers Vanilla Sugar

1 package Oetkers Whipit Stabilizer

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar,sifted

Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces Callebaut semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Chambord Liqueur or Lion’s Breath Liqueur

2 tablespoons unsalted cultured butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla, homemade

Marbelized Red and Milk Chocolate Plaques:

14 ounces Callebaut Belgium Milk Chocolate, tempered

3 ounces Lindt White Chocolate, chopped

1/8 teaspoon red gel food coloring

1 acetate strip 17 inches long

Fresh raspberries for garnish

CHOCOLATE PLAQUES:  Begin by tempering the milk chocolate using the instructions in the front of the book.  The white chocolate does not need to be tempered, only melted enough to mix in the gel coloring and be able to drizzle on to the acetate sheet.

1.  Flatten out your acetate and cut it into two strips 17 inches long and 3 inches wide.  Place them on top of a flat work surface

 and secure to the surface with double-faced tape.

2. Melt the white chocolate in a glass container in the microwave at 50 percent power, for 1 ½ minutes.  Stir to see if it has liquefied.  Return it to the microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again.  Mix in the gel food coloring to the desired shade of your choice.  Drizzle the tinted chocolate onto the acetate in a marbleized pattern.  Let the chocolate set for 5 minutes or until firm to the touch.

3.  Pour the tempered milk chocolate down the center of the strips. Using a metal offset spatula gently spread out the chocolate from corner to corner.   As the chocolate firms up but are still pliable, measure out one-inch sections and cut them using a sharp knife or a wheel cutter; do not cut through the acetate sheet.  Leave everything intact until the chocolate becomes solid.  This can be done ahead of time, but do not lift the plaques off the acetate until you are ready to affix them to the cake.  Also, because chocolate is heat sensitive, keep them wrapped and cool.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:  Boil the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.   Add in the chopped chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate is melted.  Remove from the heat and stir in the liqueur and measure out 1/3 cup and reserve this for the mousse.  Add the butter and the vanilla to the remaining chocolate and chill until set but not firm.

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MOUSSE:  Begin by placing the thawed raspberries in a stainless steel strainer, over a medium sized saucepan, and press out the juice.  Discard the pulp and the seeds.

1.  Soften the gelatin with the liqueur in a small bowl, set aside.  Set the saucepan with the juice over medium heat on the stove and gently simmer until it is reduced to ½ cup.  Add the softened gelatin to the juice and stir until it is completely dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add the 1/3-cup of the reserved chocolate cream mixture into the gelatin mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes (set but not firm).

2.  Chill wire whip beaters and a stainless steel mixing bowl for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.   Mix the two sugars and the stabilizer together in a small bowl and set aside.   Using a hand-held electric mixer with the chilled wire whips, whip the heavy cream till soft peaks form and then continue whipping and slowly adding the sugar mixture.  Whip until firm peaks form.  Whip the chilled gelatin mixture into the whipped cream mixture and refrigerate till firm enough to pipe.

NOW WE BEGIN:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two 10-inch cake pans.  Next gather all of the ingredients and utensils together. 

1.   Place the butter with the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until both are melted and blended.  Set aside. Sift the flour and the cocoa together and set aside.

2.  In a 4 ½ quart stainless steel bowl of a heavy-duty Kitchenaid Mixer combine the eggs and stir until blended.  Add the sugar and stir for 1 or 2 minutes until they are just combined.  Set this bowl over a saucepan containing 2 inches of hot water.  Place the saucepan over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the eggs become lukewarm.  Do not let the water boil.  Stir 4 or 5 times during this warming to prevent the eggs from cooking.  When the eggs feel lukewarm to the touch and look like bright yellow syrup, remove the bowl from the heat.  Place the bowl back on the mixer stand and using the wire whisk attachment begin to beat the eggs on high speed for 10 to 15 minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.  The syrup will become light, fluffy, and cool.  It will also triple in bulk and look very much like whip cream.

3.  Lower the speed and sprinkle the cocoa/flour, a little at a time, on top of the whipped eggs.  And add the chocolate/butter mixture and the vanilla until just combined.   Do not over mix.  Pour the genoise into the prepared pans and bake on the center rack in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.  The cakes will pull away from the sides of the pan and be springy when touched.  Immediately remove them from the pans and cool on a cake rack.

NOW FOR ASSEMBLING THE CAKE:  Place one layer on a decorative platter and spread ½ of the mousse mixture on to it.  Place the rest of the mousse mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a #6 star tip and set aside in the refrigerator.  Next, place the second layer on top and spread a thin layer of the chocolate glaze over the top and the sides of the cake while still soft.  Place the remainder of the glaze in a pastry bag fitted with a #4 star tip and chill slightly to firm up stiff enough to pipe. 

1.  Take the mousse mixture from the refrigerator and using a spiral motion pipe peaks in the center of the cake.  Top these peaks with fresh raspberries.  Then remove the chocolate plaques from the acetate and arrange them pressed on to the glaze, completely surrounding the sides of the cake.  Last take the remainder of the glaze and pipe small peaks filling in the gap between the plaques and the mounds of mousse in the center of the top.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

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