There were no chocolates harmed in the making of this project.
Whiskey + Frangelico + Lemon
My 22nd birthday was spent on a roadtrip to Palm Springs, with every intention to forget the weekend. Palm Springs introduced me to the “Chocolate Cake Shot”. Despite the moderate-to-heavy consumption of jägerbombs and cocktails, I remembered the chocolate cake shot so clearly.
I miss you, Palm Springs
What is a chocolate cake shot? It’s an illusion cocktail made without chocolate, but making you think you’re tasting chocolate cake. Most recipes I found use equal parts Vanilla Vodka, Frangelico and a Sugar Dipped Lemon. My bartender who made my very first Chocolate Cake Shot used Crown Royal Whisky* instead of vanilla vodka so I will go with this.
*that’s how they spell whiskey in Canada. The more you know.
A year ago, my fellow Mezze alumn Bui and I decided to grab our well-deserved drinks after a busy dinner service. I introduced him to the chocolate cake shot and had a conversation about whether the illusion would work if the components were food. So now, a year later, I decided to take on the task. I asked for his opinion on the subject and had a lengthy discussion/collaboration.
Initially, I wanted the whiskey and Frangelico to be a component that is a quick mouthfeel, so either a mousse or a cream. I thought that using a lighter component will accentuate the alcohol more, as oppose to a making a cookie or cake which will saturate and cook off the alcohol. I started with a whiskey mousse, which is bavaroise base and a Frangelico cream. I thought about a crunchy lemon brioche to imitate the lemon and the crunch from the sugar. But I wasn’t so happy with the textures. They were pudding-ish and soft. I told Bui my concern and suggested:
“You should make the texture like chocolate cake.” Genius. I honestly wish I thought of this.
So what’s in a chocolate cake?
- sometimes, Crumbs/Sprinkles
- and when you’re feeling special, Whip Cream (I’m really just trying to make this list longer)
I had already made the Whiskey Mousse which is bavaroise base, and it was delicious, so I decided to keep it as the “frosting/mousse” component. I piped the mousse in domes and put them together to create a sphere. Now I just need the cake and some kind of texture. I went back and forth with a lemon cake, or a Frangelico cake (but was afraid the alcohol would be saturated), a lemon crisp or a lemon tuile or a Frangelico tuile.
Crown Royal Whisky Bavaroise Sphere
I tried to create a Frangelico sugar tuile, however, I was afraid the alcohol will cook off and I will only be left with a plain sugar tuile sans Frangelico. I tested, and I was correct. So, moving on to the lemon tuile. I contemplated whether I should use citric acid along with the sugar, but decided to used lemon juice and isomalt instead. Isomalt, Bui’s suggestion, is less sweeter than sugar, and pushed more of the tart lemon flavor as oppose to just eating plain sugar candy.
Bui sent me a recipe of a whiskey cake to consider for either a whiskey cake or a Frangelico cake. I looked over the recipe, and only 16% of the mass was whiskey, and 30% of fat used was couverture chocolate. I didn’t want to use chocolate in the dish, because the beauty of The Chocolate Cake Shot was it’s lack of chocolate. Then came the curiosity and inner dialogues. Conversation with myself:
What solid fat can I substitute the couverture chocolate with that can flavor this cake? Hazelnut oil.
But Hazelnut oil is a liquid. So, how do you solidify hazelnut oil?
First of all, I need a
- Chem Lab
- hydrogen gas at 140*F
- and a nickel catalyst
Anyone would like to sponsor me? So, we’ll get back to solidifying hazelnut oil when I have proper equipment.
Frangelico soaked Financier
Now, getting back on topic: I was inspired by Gulab Jamun, a syrup soaked Indian dessert and figured this could solve the saturation problem of the Frangelico cake, by soaking it in syrup. I made a biscuits à la cuillère for the cake component and used hazelnut flour to emphasize the frangelico. I soaked the biscuit in Frangelico Syrup but the texture sucked. So I decided to make a Hazelnut Financier instead, which had brown butter and hazelnut flour. (I toasted the hazelnut flour to deepen it’s flavor). I decided to microwave the cake, to achieve that heightened sponge look. I don’t own an iSi canister so, I had to improvise. I soaked the cake, and ohmygahd, it was delicious.
I crisped the leftover hazelnut biscuit instead, added lemon dust and it became the Hazel-Lemon Crumb, which added more texture to the dish.
So, the big question, did it taste like chocolate cake? YES. I was surprised myself, but big freaking YES!
Whisky* Mousse Sphere
180 gr. cream
20 gr. Crown Royal Whisky*
10 gr. powdered sugar
10 gr gelatin sheet
160 gr. whisky*
44 gr. cream
110 gr. granulated sugar
56 gr. yolks
30 gr. granulated sugar
Whip cream, whisky and powdered sugar to soft peaks. set aside.
Bloom gelatin. Whisk together whisky*, cream and 110 gr. of granulated sugar. Place on a baine-marie. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks and 30 gr. of granulated sugar. Temper yolks and cook mixture to 82*C. Whisk in bloomed gelatin and cool over an ice bath. Bamix mixture until smooth and fold in whip cream. Pipe mousse unto dome/sphere molds. Freeze for about 6-8 hours. Un-mold, and refrigerate.
1 vanilla bean, split
107 gr. Frangelico
80 gr granulated sugar
Boil all ingredients and cool.
67 gr. brown butter
51 gr. hazelnut flour (toasted)
34 gr. AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50 gr. sugar
75 gr. egg whites
Make brown butter and cool. Whisk toasted hazelnut flour, AP flour, baking powder and sugar. add to brown butter slowly. whisk in egg whites last. place in a cup and microwave on high for 50 seconds. Unmold and cool. Soak cake in Frangelico Syrup.
Candied Lemon Zest
2 Lemons, zest, cut in strips
100 gr granulated sugar
100 gr water
Tart Lemon Tuile
57 gr. isomalt
61 gr lemon juice
76 gr whites
102 gr powdered sugar
54 gr yolks
54 gr hazelnut flour (toasted)
40 gr AP flour
8 gr dehydrated lemon zest
2 gr citric acid
Ground lemon zest and citric acid to a fine powder in a coffee grinder.
Whip whites and powdered sugar to stiff peaks. Fold in yolks, fold in sifted hazelnut flour and AP flour. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. bake at 350 deg for 7-10 minutes. Lower the temperature of the oven to 300 deg. Crumble the biscuit and let dry in oven, for an additional 3-5 minutes. The biscuit shouldn’t have too much color. Keep an eye out, the biscuit can easily burn. (The biscuit will be soft while still in the oven. Test the crispness by taking out a small piece and letting it cool). Toss in lemon powder.