It might not look perfect... but it sure was yummy!
*We used canned cherries & Kirsch instead of Brandy
Preheat oven to 160°C fan forced. Grease and line 2 x 20cm springform cake pans.
2. Add eggs and sugar to a heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and set over a saucepan of simmering water over very low heat.
Whisk the mixture until 37°C. **However, lacking a thermometer -we didn't do this.
Remove the bowl from the heat and beat with an electric mixer on a medium-low speed for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture has cooled and thickened to a mousse-like consistency.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together twice. **We took this as pre sifting the flour, cocoa powder & baking powder into a bowl, and then sifting it again into the beaten eggs & sugar.
Using a large metal spoon, fold the dry mixture into the egg mixture in 3 batches until combined, adding the vanilla extract with the first dry batch.
3. Pour the mixture into the lined cake pans and smooth surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until sponge springs back when lightly touched. **We missed that line. Notice the fork holes. Haha, but it did spring back ;)
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks. Place in the blast chiller for 10-15 minutes until cake has cooled completely. We used the freezer.
4. The candied cherries.
Preheat oven to 120°C. Place cherries on a lined baking tray. Lightly dust with the sugar and place in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Remove and cool. Coat with remaining sugar. Set aside.
5. The cherry compote.
Add the sugar to a non-stick saucepan and place over medium heat. Once the sugar begins to dissolve add the cherries and cook until they start to release their juices.
Add the brandy and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Strain, reserving liquor.
6. For the cherry syrup, heat 170ml water and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved cherry juice and compote liquor (**From step 6). Allow to cool.
7. Chocolate hazelnut praline mousse
To skin the hazelnuts
Roast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes. Rubbing the nuts between your fingers the skin should come off.
**We lost our patience after a while and gave up on the skinning process. I believe that it didn't affect the taste of the praline mousse -so don't worry if you don't properly skin them either.
NEXT: In a dry heavy-based saucepan, cook sugar over medium heat, stirring, until melted. Once melted, cook without stirring, swirling pan, until lightly golden.
Add hazelnuts, stirring until well coated. Immediately pour mixture onto the baking sheet and cool completely, in blast chiller for 5 minutes.
Break praline into pieces. Place into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. **The blades in our little food processor simply was not moving so we had to do this step by hand. Chopping these nuts were quite tedious :(
It's okay though, it just added some "crunch", which I thought was a good thing.
(a)Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
(b) In another heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
(c) In another small saucepan, heat 250ml of the cream on low heat.
**You should have 3 things going on on your stove
Stir through half of the hot cream into the egg yolks. **Half of step (c) into what you made in step (b).
With the yolk & cream mixture you've just combined, pour into a small pot/saucepan and bring to the stove, on low heat. Stir until thickened -make sure the egg doesn't cook! Keep stirring :)
Stir the melted chocolate into the hot custard. Add the vanilla and allow to cool.
Next, whisk the remaining cream until stiff peaks form.
Fold into the chocolate mixture with the praline, until just combined. Set aside.
9. The mascarpone cream. Beat the mascarpone, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until smooth and slightly thicker in volume.
10. The chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside.
Bring the cream to just below boiling point in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, then add the melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Allow to cool until thick but still pouring consistency.
11. To assemble the cake, slice both cakes into thirds. Place the base of 1 cake onto a serving plate and brush with some of the cherry syrup. Spread over half of the chocolate praline mousse.
**We could only cut ours halves. But no matter! :)
12. Place the next layer of cake onto a board, and brush with cherry syrup. Spread over half of the mascarpone cream.
Divide the cherries into two parts for two separate layers. Place cherries around the border of the cake, 5mm from its edge and scatter remaining in the middle.
Carefully remove layer from the board and place on top of the first layer.
Repeat each layering process on the board (you will have 1 spare slice of cake), starting with the praline mousse and ending with the cherries on the mascarpone cream.
13. Place the final layer of the cake on a wire rack sitting over a baking tray. Evenly pour the ganache over the cake, ensuring it is completely coated. When the ganache has set, place on top of the layered cake.
Decorate with shaved chocolate, fresh cherries and candied cherries.
*Since we skipped the candied cherries, we saved some of the canned ones.
P.S. You should eat this as soon as it's possible. After being on your feet for hours, you should definitely reward yourself he he he