I remember one of the last times I traveled to France because of my luggage.
“Why is your bag so heavy?”, P. asked me when he saw me come down the stairs trying with difficulty to carry my oversized metallic-grey Victorinox suitcase.
“I have parts of a Jeep in it. Four shocks, front and rear. Don’t say anything! I think I have become a real Jeep expert by now”, I replied.
I do not know how I managed to be doing this once another time. I had told my brother B. that I was not going to bring Jeep accessories for him, the next time I was traveling to France. But I did. So of course, now every time I come to him and ask that he sends me pastry supplies, what do you think happens? He is thrilled to do so! We have a deal. He asks for Jeep’s parts, I ask for harder-to-find foods.
Back in summer last year, I had asked B. to send me gavottes, which sounded pretty crazy considering that he was going to pay twice as much shipping as the price of the biscuits themselves. But we did not care, as I had then a pastry project in mind. Gavottes are in fact extremely common in French supermarkets, and cheap. What are gavottes you may ask? I myself had not come across the name and wondered what they were. I asked Mercotte where I had seen her use them in some desserts she prepared. She kindly told me that gavottes were also called crêpes dentelles, which immediately made more sense. I remembered the many occasions when I ate some with desserts in restaurants while growing up.
Gavottes are a specialty from Quimper in Brittany. Their story takes us back to the time of King Gradlon of Cornouaille to whom these lace-looking crêpes were first introduced to by the hermit Saint Corentin. These crêpes are rolled into thin crispy biscuits, served with desserts, mousses or ice-creams, and are very common anywhere in France. But they can also be use in place of feuillantine when they are crushed and melted with chocolate, hence giving crunchiness to many desserts and cakes.
With my precious gavottes handy, I had everything to complete my baking project. You would think! However, life took its course, days went by and I eventually postponed, and forgot. Until recently when I was suddenly reminded after opening the left cabinet by the fridge, where the gavottes had been waiting to be used during all this time.
If, like me, you spend so much of your free time reading food related material, you cannot but want to create and try new things all the time. Ideas never fail to bloom thanks to many talented food bloggers providing fantastic sources of inspiration. I often think, “oh she did this, I want to try” “what a cool dish he made, I will do it soon too”. Sometimes I try almost right after I make a note of a recipe, sometimes it takes time. And sometimes, I use new skills learned here and there to make something totally different, yet related. Like Art, in the food realm, we keep reproducing and changing what exists already. Creating is a drive.
When I thought about the concept of this dessert, I really did not know what the end result would be before I was actually done with it. Oddly enough, it happened spontaneously. I had initially intended to do something totally different, but as I worked my way into the design of the dessert, for some reason, I ended up with this Chocolate and Lemon Cake. I decided to be playful!
Both Mercotte and Loukoum inspired me, one with a great-looking cake she recently made, the other with delicious-looking sweets she is known to be making well — I had already successfully tried this one a few times and knew I would love it again.
As hard as I tried to stay away from using chocolate, I was instinctively drawn back to it. The predictable happened. Lemon being one of my other favorite flavors in sweets and desserts, I decided to combine the two together. Three components made the cake: a light airy lemon mousse contrasting a crunchy praliné base, made of melted chocolate with gavottes, and a lemon/chocolate zebra génoise (sponge cake). I added a few fresh raspberries as well. The dessert had not been planned this way but as it eventually happened, I was happy with the final outcome.
In fact, I liked to play with the idea so much that once I was fully warmed up and inspired, I prepared a second dessert, this time with a grapefruit jelly and a dark chocolate mousse, and a third one. Mind you, not in the same day or evening, I am not that crazy and obsessed! Practice pays off! In the end, the possible flavor combinations are endless and it is up to you to decide how playful and creative you want to be. These are a lot of fun to make, and even better, to eat! With Lemon, Chocolate, Raspberries, three of my favorites sweet flavors, it was a piece of Heaven brought on a plate.
PS: if you had problems finding gavottes (sold online see link in ingredient list), I am sure thin-looking and crumbly biscuits would work well. You might already have ideas for a substitute!
For the Chocolate Crusty Base :
- 1 3/4 oz Milk chocolate, I used Valrhona 40 % cacao Jivara Lactée
- 1 3/4 oz Black Hazelnut chocolate, I used Valrhona 32 % cacao Gianduja
- 1 3/4 oz plain gavottes
- 1Tsp Cocoa Nibs, I used Michel Cluizel
For the Lemon Cream:
- 2 eggs
- 3.5 oz mascarpone
- 2/3 cup heavy cream, cold
- 1.5 gelatin sheets
- 1.5 oz sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 Tsp water, warm
For the Zebra Cake:
- 4 eggs
- 3.5 oz sugar
- 3.5 oz flour
- 1.5 Tsp unsweetened cocoa
- Zest of 1 lemon
- A few drops of vanilla extract
- To make the cake, start by preheating your oven at 375 F.
- Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until white and fluffy.
- Whip the egg whites firm with a pinch of salt. Fold them delicately to the previous preparation. Divide the batter in two halves and keep.
- Sift the flour and divide it in two halves.
- In the first half, add the lemon zest and in the other, the cocoa, and mix.
- Add the lemon-flavored flour to the first batter and the cocoa-flavored one to the second. Fold in gently. Take two decoration bags and fill them with each preparation.
- Grease a baking sheet with edge and line with parchment paper. Pipe the preparation describing long diagonal lines with each, one next to the other, lemon, cocoa, lemon and so on and so forth, until no batter is left.
- Cook in the over for about 8 to 10 min. The top should be firmer and spongy when touching.
- Remove from the oven. Let cool for a min and then remove the parchment paper. Cut circles of the size of your cakes for use later.
- To make the crunchy bases, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and then add the gavotte crumbles with the cocoa nibs.
- Take four ring molds and line them with plastic liners. Place them on a plate covered with parchment paper. Divide the chocolate preparation between the four molds and press down so that it is even. Place in the fridge until set.
- Remove them from the circles and put them back in with the plastic liners.
- To make the lemon mousse, start by soaking the gelatin sheets in cold water for a few min, until soft.
- Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until white and fluffy.
- Add the mascarpone, lemon zest and juice and mix well.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatin and dissolve them in 1 Tsp hot water. Add it then to the lemon mascarpone preparation.
- Beat the cream in whipped cream and fold it gently in the lemon batter. Beat the egg whites firm with a pinch of salt and fold them in as well.
- Take the molds out of the fridge with the crunchy bases in place, and top with raspberries.
- Pipe in lemon mousse and place in the fridge until set (1 to 2 hours). When the mousses are almost set, top with the zebra cake, and place back in the fridge until fully set, about 1 hour more.
- Remove the ring molds, the plastic liners and serve on individual plates.
Pour la base pralinée croustillante :
- 50 g de chocolat au lait, j’ai utilisé Valrhona 40 % cacao Jivara Lactée
- 50 g de chocolat aux noisettes 35 % cacao, j’ai utilisé Valrhona 32 % cacao Gianduja
- 50 g de gavottes nature
- 1 càs de grué de cacao (j’ai utilisé Michel Cluizel)
Pour la crème au citron :
- 2 oeufs
- 100 g de mascarpone
- 150 ml de crème liquide froide
- 1,5 feuilles de gélatine
- 40 g de sucre
- Jus d’1 citron
- Zeste d’1 citron
- 1 càs d’eau chaude
Pour le gâteau génoise zébré :
- 4 oeufs
- 100 g de sucre
- 100 g de farine
- 1,5 càs de cacao en poudre non sucré
- Zeste d’1 citron
- Quelques gouttes d’extrait de vanille
- Pour réaliser le gâteau zébré, commencez par préchauffer votre four à 190 C.
- Fouettez les jaunes d’oeuf avec le sucre et la vanille jusqu’à blanchiment.
- Battez les oeufs en neige ferme. Ajoutez-les délicatement à la préparation précédente. Divisez en deux et réservez.
- Tamisez et divisez la farine en deux.
- Dans une moitié, ajoutez le zeste de citron et dans l’autre, le cacao.
- Ajoutez la farine au citron à une moitié du mélange jaune d’oeuf/sucre/blancs d’oeuf, et celle au cacao à l’autre. Soulevez bien les masses délicatement. Prenez deux poches à douille et remplissez-les avec les deux préparations.
- Beurrez un plaque de cuisson avec rebord et tapissez-la de papier sulfurisé. Décrivez des lignes en diagonale régulières avec chaque préparation, en alternant, citron, cacao, citron et ainsi de suite, jusqu’à épuisement des crèmes.
- Faite cuire pendant environ 8 à 10 mns. Au toucher, le dessus doit être ferme.
- Retirez du four. Laissez reposer 1 mn et retirez délicatement le papier sulfurisé. Prenez les empreintes de vos gâteaux avec un cercle.
- Pour réaliser les bases croustillantes, faites fondre les chocolats au bain-marie et une fois fondus, ajoutez les miettes de gavottes et le grué de cacao.
- Prenez quatre cercles tapissés de rhodoïd et divisez le croustillant entre-eux. Tassez bien et mettez au frigidaire jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient pris.
- Décollez-les et remettez-les à l’intérieur des cercles avec le rhodoïd.
- Pour réaliser la mousse au citron , commencez par faire tremper la gélatine dans de l’eau froide pendant quelques minutes, jusqu’à ramolissement.
- Battez les jaunes d’oeuf avec le sucre jusqu’à blanchiment.
- Ajoutez la mascarpone, le zeste et jus de citron.
- Essorez la gélatine et faites-la dissoudre dans 1 càs d’eau chaude. Ajoutez-la à la crème à la mascarpone.
- Montez la crème froide en chantilly et incorporez-la délicatement. Montez les blancs en neige ferme et ajoutez-les a la préparation.
- Sortez les bases pralinées du frigo et garnissez de framboises avant de recouvrir de mousse au citron, à la poche à douille.
- Faites prendre au frigidaire, pendant environ 1 è 2 heures. Quand les mousses ont presque pris, ajoutez le gâteau zèbré, et remettez au frigo pendant 1 heure environ.
- Retirez délicatement les cercles, le rhodoïd et servez.