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Jan 28, 2020

Alison Sullivan’s Camino Verde, Ecuador Mousse Cake Recipe

Prairie chocolate mousse cake

The final night of our 2019 12 Nights of Chocolate event ended with this decadent and creamy classic layer cake, and we think it showcases our Camino Verde, Ecuador Ground Chocolate and Hacienda Azul, Costa Rica cocoa nibs really, really well. It was created by Alison Sullivan, the pastry chef at Prairie in SF; she and chef/owner Anthony Strong regularly use our chocolate on the menu. We love Prairie for more than just their desserts. It’s one of our favorites in the Mission for grilled modern and classic Italian. 


Make the Camino Verde, Ecuador Ganache

Melt the chocolate over a water bath using a rubber spatula, stirring frequently while melting. Once melted, remove the pan and bowl from the heat and keep the chocolate warm.

In a separate saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream with the sugar just enough to dissolve it. Add the salt.  

Blend about 2/3 of the cream and sugar into the chocolate. Add the remainder of the cream and work with a spatula to loosen the ganache. Smooth out the emulsion with an immersion blender.  

Blend in the butter in 3 parts. Then blend in the vanilla and the rum.

Cool the ganache to room temperature before using. Cover it with a layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate it at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight (note, however, that the ganache can be made up to four days ahead). If it’s thoroughly chilled, bring it to room temperature for about 30 minutes before using, or heat in a double boiler to pour over as a glaze. Makes 2 quarts.


Make the Chocolate Midnight Cake

  • 600g sugar
  • 332g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 129g cocoa powder
  • 7g baking powder
  • 14g baking soda
  • 4-5 eggs, depending on size
  • 263 ml crème fraiche
  • 176 ml whole milk
  • 356 ml cold coffee
  • 11 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 85g unsalted butter, melted
  • 75g neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the oven racks to fit three half-sheet pans.

Line 3 half-sheet pans  with parchment paper, then spray or lightly oil the parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the sugar, flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda together twice. 

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, crème fraiche, milk, coffee, and vanilla. 

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in half of the wet ingredients. Whisk vigorously to combine and beat out any lumps or pockets of dry ingredients. Whisk in the second half of the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined, then whisk in the butter and the oil.

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans. Bake the cake for 6 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for 2-3 minutes more. The edges will begin to pull away from the sides, and the center of the cake will spring back to the touch.


Make the Roasted Cocoa Nib Syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the nibs until fragrant, about 10 minutes. 

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water and sugar, then bring it to a boil. Keep covered until the nibs finish toasting. 

Remove from the nibs from the oven and add them to the hot syrup. Steep for 15 minutes, then strain and discard the nibs. 

Note that the syrup can be made up to one week ahead.


Make the Camino Verde, Ecuador Chocolate Mousse

In a large mixing bowl, melt the chocolate over a hot water bath using a rubber spatula, stirring frequently while melting. Once melted, remove the pan and bowl from the heat and keep the chocolate warm.

In a medium mixing bowl or stand mixer, whip the cream to soft peaks.

In a separate mixing bowl or in a stand mixer with a clean, dry whisk, whip the yolks until pale and doubled in volume. 

Clip a candy thermometer to the side of a medium saucepan. Combine two tablespoons of water with the sugar, stir to combine, and then boil the syrup until it reaches the firm ball stage of 248 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius). 

Pour the syrup in a slow stream into the whipped yolks, being careful not to get any sugar on the whisk.

Whisk the nib syrup into the melted chocolate, then whisk the yolk mixture into the chocolate.  

Carefully fold 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate, then fold in half of the remaining cream. Fold in the remaining cream, making sure that the mousse is evenly incorporated.


Make the Hacienda Azul, Costa Rica Cocoa Nib Bavarian Cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a rimmed baking sheet, roast the cocoa nibs until fragrant, about 15 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the milk is steaming. Add the cocoa nibs, stir well, cool to room temperature, and then cover and chill overnight.

The next day, strain the milk from the nibs until you have 500 ml (discard the nibs and reserve the remainder of the infused milk for another use).

Bloom the gelatin in ice water and set aside.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the yolks. In a medium saucepan, warm the infused milk until just steaming, then slowly stream it into the egg yolks while whisking vigorously to make a creme anglaise. Strain the anglaise back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and steaks across the bottom of the pot.

Add the softened gelatin to the anglaise and mix well. Once completely cool, but before it begins to set, gently fold in the whipped cream. Transfer to a container and chill overnight to set.  Makes 1 quart.


Assemble the Cake

Cover a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and add a 2” high extender. 

Pipe a1/2-inch layer of the mousse on the bottom of the pan. Cover with a sheet of Midnight cake.  Top the cake with a ¼-inch layer of the ganache, then add another layer of cake. Layer on a second ¼-inch layer of ganache, then top with a third sheet of cake. Wrap the layer cake and freeze it overnight.

The next day, release the pan extender and cut the cake into logs of desired width and length. Warm the rest of the ganache until it is pourable and pour it over the logs. Finish and decorate as you wish. Move the cake to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, then let it come to room temperature about 30 minutes before slicing.

To serve, stir the Bavarian cream until it smooths out enough to fall from the spoon in thick ribbons. Spread a healthy amount of the cream onto the center of the plate, then top with a slice of a cake.


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