Recipe, styling and photography by Katelyn Allegra
Black forest liquorice mousse cake
- 400g soft brown sugar
- 270g cake flour
- 80g cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 250ml (1 cup) full-cream milk, at room temperature
- 195g salted butter, melted
- 1 x 425g tin pitted black cherries
- 50ml water
- 50g black liquorice, finely chopped
- 50g white sugar
- 2g agar agar (find at select health stores and pharmacies)
- 750ml (3 cups) whipping cream
- 340g dark 70% chocolate, chopped
- 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 120g white sugar
- 125ml (½ cup) water
- 100ml kirsch/cherry liqueur
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- 420g white sugar
- 250ml (1 cup) fresh cream
- 120g cocoa powder, sifted
- 20g gelatine powder
- 60ml (¼ cup) cold water freeze-dried cherries, to garnish (optional – find at wellnesswarehouse.com)
For the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line 3 springform cake tins (each with a 22cm diameter).
Combine the soft brown sugar, cake flour, 80g cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, milk and melted butter together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake tins and bake in the preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the centres of the cakes comes out clean, 30 – 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning the cakes out onto wire cooling racks to cool completely. Once cool, use a serrated bread knife to level off the tops of the cakes. Set aside until needed. Line a 22cm-diameter springform cake tin with baking paper, leaving enough excess baking paper to create a collar that extends well past the top of the cake tin. Set aside until needed.
For the gel, place the cherries and juice, water and liquorice in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook until most of the liquorice has melted. Be mindful not to reduce the liquid too much. Add the 50g white sugar and the agar agar to the liquorice mixture, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
Pour the mixture into a heatproof container/loaf tin and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Once set, break the gel into manageable chunks, transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth and thick. Spoon the gel into a small piping bag fitted with a medium-sized plain nozzle. Set aside until needed.
For the mousse, pour 375ml of the whipping cream into the bowl of an electric hand-held/stand mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.
Place the remaining 375ml whipping cream in a small saucepan and heat to just below boiling point. Remove from heat and pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. Set aside.
Using an electric hand-held/stand mixer, beat the egg yolks on high speed until light and stiff. Set aside.
Place the 120g white sugar and 125ml water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture reaches 120°C on a sugar thermometer. Meanwhile, start whisking the egg yolks again and gradually pour the hot sugar syrup down the inside of the bowl. Continue to beat the mixture until it has doubled in volume and cooled to room temperature.
Test the temperature of the chocolate and cream mixture (it should also be at room temperature), then fold the mixture into the whipped yolk mixture. Lastly, fold in the refrigerated whipped cream in 2 batches. Return to the fridge for the mousse to firm up, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
To assemble, place a cake layer in the prepared cake tin. Brush the cake with the kirsch/cherry liqueur, then pipe a ring of the gel 10cm from the outer edge. Pipe a second ring of gel 5cm from the first ring, towards the centre of the cake. Pour ⅓ of the chocolate mousse between the rings of gel. Repeat once more with the second layer of cake, piping only 1 ring of gel around the outer edge of the cake. Make sure to press the cake layers down into the mousse. Add the third cake layer and spread the remaining ⅓ of the mousse over the entire layer. Freeze the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight, to set.
While the cake is in the freezer, prepare the glaze. Place the 250ml (1 cup) water, 420g white sugar and fresh cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk in the sifted cocoa powder, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes while stirring continuously. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sprinkle the gelatine powder over 60ml cold water, then set aside until the gelatine has bloomed. Once bloomed, whisk the gelatine into the hot cocoa mixture until it has dissolved. Set aside until completely cooled.
Remove the cake from the freezer and unmould (use a hairdryer on a low setting to release it, if necessary). Peel away the baking paper collar and place the cake on a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath it. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake in one go, making sure it drips down the sides evenly. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. Garnish with a dusting of freeze-dried cherries, if desired.