Lantana

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It is the Royal Foodie Joust time again! I missed last month’s challenge because I was in Japan but now I am back, my hands are itchy and I can’t wait to whisk up something creative! This month challenge ingredients : Coffee, Black Peppercorns and Honey. I was so inspired while I was at Henri Charpentier in Ginza, so I’ve decided to use this combination to create a new dessert of my own. I called it Lantana.

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Lantana – is a noxious weed with vibrant inflorescence flower, toxic leaves and thornly branches, but the berries are absolutely delicious when ripe. When I was drafting out the recipe of this cake, I want it to be visually stunning like the lantana’s flower, luring its prey to have a bite on it. Once captured, all your senses will be totally intoxicated by its heart-stopping richness. Hence, Lantana is the name of this gateaux.

Lantana is consists of coffee sponge cake, layered with white chocolate honey bavarois, and then covered with peppery dark chocolate ganache. It takes a little longer than usual to make this gateaux, but totally worth it. I especially enjoying decorating the cake where I can let my creativity goes wild.

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For the chocolate ganache, best to use chocolate with high percentage of cocoa in it. I’ve chosen the NESTLÉ PLAISTOWE Couverture which has 63% cocoa. It also comes in easy-to-melt measurable small piece.

I actually found melting chocolate is the most challenging process ever! I’ve had way too many failures from melting chocolate by turning them into lumpy horrors to last me a lifetime. Thank god this time I had no hiccups, and the chocolate melted nicely and silky smooth….

Here’s the recipe below.

Ingredients: (makes 3 – 4 servings)

Coffee cake
1 cup of strong black expresso coffee, cooled
280g self-raising flour
340g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
150g butter, softened

White chocolate bavarois
2 tsp gelatine powder
50ml milk
60g caster sugar
50g chopped white chocolate
2 egg yolks, at room temperature, lightly beaten
120ml thickened cream, whipped to soft peaks
2 tbsp honey

Chocolate Ganache
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground black peppercorn
1 tsp ground cinnamon
150ml thickened (whipping) cream
225g chopped good quality dark chocolate

Spice & cocoa powder sprinkle
½ tsp ground black peppercorn
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cocoa powder

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Methods:

To make the coffee cake
1. Prepare a cup of black expresso coffee, and let it cool down.
2. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
3. Sift flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, butter and the coffee.
4. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, then high for another 4 minutes.
5. Prepare 2 well-greased cake tins. Pour half of the mixture into one cake tin, and the other half into another.
6. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
7. Leave in the tin to cool down a little before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
8. Use a cookie ring cutter (72mm diameter or smaller), cut out 3 circles on each cake.
9. Cut the top bit off, then carefully slice the cake into layers, approximately 1cm thickness.

To make the white chocolate bavarois
1. Combine the gelatine and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl and set aside to sponge and swell.
2. Heat the milk, honey, sugar and chocolate in a saucepan until simmering. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted.
3. Put the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk in the warm chocolate mixture.
4. Return the mixture to a clean saucepan and stir oven medium heat until it lightly coats the back of a spoon.
5. Add the sponged gelatine and stir until dissolved.
6. Transfer to a bowl, place over a bowl of ice and beat until cold.
7. Fold in the cream gently and ready for stacking process.

Stacking Process
1. Use a food stacker, place a layer of cake at the bottom of the stacker.
2. Spoon some of the bavarois into the stacker, spread and push it down to fill all the gap with the back of a spoon.
3. Sprinkle some of the spice and cocoa powder on top.
4. Repeat step 1 – 3 and finish off with another layer of cake on the top. (refer to pic above)
5. Carefully remove the cake from the stacker.
6. Put the cake in the fridge for at least 1 hour to let the bavarois set.

Chocolate Ganache
1. Put the cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Make sure the base of the owl doesn’t touch the water.
2. Stir occasionally until melted and combined.
3. Add ground pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, stir and mix well.
4. Set aside to cool for 2 hours, or until thickened to a spreading consistency but not solid.

Final Step
1. Remove the cake stacks from the fridge, place it on top of a soup can (or an upside down cup).
2. Spread the chocolate ganache evenly all over the cake.
3. Sculpture the ganache to a nice smooth surface with the back of a knife. You have to work quick before the ganache gets too dry and solid.
4. To finish it off, sprinkle some of the spice & cocoa powder on top. Garnish with a nice piece of white chocolate and chocolated coated coffee beans.

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This is my very first version of this cake, Lantana, but I am sure I will keep making it with more changes and improvements till perfecto! Give it a try if you feel like a good challenge.I

ENJOY!

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