The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. The recipe was one she received this recipe from Chef John O. while attending The International Culinary School in Atlanta, Georgia USA. I never knew the name of this fancy-schmancy dessert, but I always wondered how they were made and if I could do it. Now I know the answers. We have one Patisserie here in Saginaw. It’s very small and one of a few bakeries that actually has decent tasting baked goods. Of the few times I’ve been there I don’t recall seeing a joconde imprime. Other than the internet and magazines I’d never seen these cute desserts until a trip to Dallas in 2003. In Texas they have a chain of grocery stores, Tom Thumb, that has a bakery section that ranks high on the drool scale. I was amazed at how small and delicate some of the desserts were. I also wondered what in the heck was that plastic stuff wrapped around them?
A couple of years ago we got our first super duper high tech Krogers, and what do you know their bakery carries the fancy-chancy desserts. As tempting as it was, I didn’t buy one of each of the cute little desserts with the plastic, but I’ve sample a couple; and they aren’t bad. When I found out what the challenge was this month I was relieved that it didn’t involve yeast and a bit tickled that this was my chance to make the dessert that I’d been fawning over for years. And just in case you’re wondering; a joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake that gives a chic, stylish, elegant all of the above finish to desserts formed in ring molds. A joconde batter is surprisingly moist and although delicate, it produces a pretty flexible cake. That being said timing is everything with this cake. If the cake is underbaked it’ll stick to the mat, overbake it and it’ll be dry as a chip and crack. Then all your hard work will be for naught. Here’s one more French baking term for you; Entremets. An Entremets is a dessert with multiple layers of cake, pastry creams, or mousse. Almost like an ugraded trifle. The A joconde imprime is the outside cake wrapper of the Entremets dessert.
Forgive me for not getting straight to the dessert, I just want you to learn what I have about it. After last month’s disastrous stollen I’m excited that this was something that I felt I could at least be in the ball park with, especially in light of what my family was going through, and more so, I decided to make it for my birthday which was on the 17th. Enough already, here’s the recipe, and some additional equipment you’re going to need.
- Offset spatula
- Regular spatula
- Spring form pan
- Biscuit cutter (or ring mold, or cut PVC pipe, or whatever else you can think of to use as a mold for individual desserts)
- Torte/entremets mold/Springform pan/ Trifle dish (for larger desserts)
- Plastic wrap
- Parchment paper, Acetate or transparency film
Joconde Sponge -makes two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” jelly roll pan
¾ cup **almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 TBS powdered sugar
¼ cup cake flour
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
2½ tsp white granulated sugar or superfine sugar
2 TBS unsalted butter, melted
In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl) On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix. Fold in melted butter. Set batter to be used later.
**I didn’t want to pay $11.00 for a one pound bag of almond flour so I decided to make it myself. I bought whole blanched almonds and starting with my Magic Bullet. The gear chose to break at that time, so I tossed it. Then I tried my food processor. The blade is no sharper than a napkin so that didn’t work. Next up, I cleaned my coffee grinder and ground 1 ½ cups of almonds, in 4 batches. After grinding them I had to sift them to get out any remaining chunks. The whole process from start to finish took at least an hour. Next time I will shell out the $11.00 and buy them. That was nerve-wrecking!
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste -Makes : Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18”
14 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups plus 1½ TBS powdered sugar
7 large egg whites
1 cup cake flour
Cocoa Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz and add 2 oz cocoa powder. I used Onyx Cocoa for a deeper hue. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously then fold in sifted flour. You can tint the batter with food coloring if you don’t want it plain or not making the cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde– How To Make the Pattern
Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately ¼ inch thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan. Now it’s time to be
creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, use whatever you have at home or you can pipe it from a bag. Again let your creative side out. No piping bag, no problem. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes. Mine took almost an hour.
Remove from freezer. After reading some posts in the Bakers Challenge forum I decided to use an idea from one of the other bakers. Instead of pouring the Joconde batter over the design on the upside down pan, I removed the mat from the pan, flipped it over, slid the mat with frozen joconde inside. Spread batter evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste and baked it with the pan right side up. That way there’s no worry about the batter dripping down the sides of the pan and onto the oven floor.
Bake at 475º until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. It bakes quickly so watch it carefully. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from the mat. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing(The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.) I’m telling you when I flipped it over and seen the pattern I was jumping for joy, literally!
Next, start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of plastic wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the plastic wrap and pull it tightly up on the outside of the mold.
I lined the inside of the ring with transparency film that I bought at Office Max and then cut it into strips to fit to the top of the mold. Fitting it to the top makes it’s easier to smooth the top of the cake.
Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height, that’s what I did. Once your height is measured, cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length using a very sharp paring knife and ruler. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight.
Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough. Now the mold is done, and ready to fill. If you’re not ready to fill it right away, wrap in parchment and several layers of plastic wrap and freeze.
Entremet- Filling Options:Fill with layers of anything you like. It just needs to be something cold that will not fall apart when unmolded. To save time I used a boxed chocolate mousse and no bake cheesecake filling. Sometimes you have to think inside the box! I had leftover chocolate pound cake batter and baked an 8” layer to use on the bottom. There was lots of the joconde left so I also cut and 8” circle and several strips of it to use in between the layers of chocolate mousse and nobake cheesecake. After it was all layered and filled I let in chill in the fridge for about three hours. I felt it needed a glaze so I melted a jar of apricot preserves along with a ¼ cup of orange juice. A light glaze is all that’s needed. I got a bit heavy handed with it and use way too much. This is a less is more lesson. After chilling over night I melted some milk chocolate candy wafers in a parchment bag in the microwave. Then proceeded to pretend I had a steady hand and piped a few designs on top. I’m not overly excited about the pictures, but my foray into fancy desserts was mighty tasty.