Thursday, August 6, 2009

Baking Challenge #1: Le Marquis Au Chocolat

So, like I said, to kick off the start of my baking challenge of doing a new recipe once a week for a year, I started with the recipe from Julia Child's "The French Chef Cookbook", published in 1968.

This cookbook is fun because the recipes are broken down by which show she cooked/baked on her television show. I chose Le Marquis Au Chocolate which is a chocolate sponge cake from her sixty-eighth show. I'm sure if I had stayed in culinary school for more than just a week I would have learned how to do this cake but since I didn't, this is my first attempt at making a french cake. Très Chic!

Le Marquis au Chocolate
Chocolate Butter sponge cake, butter cream frosting and chocolate glaze

"Here is a splendid cake for chocolate lovers with sylphid figures. Filled and frosted with rum-flavored buttercream, covered with a light cloak of melted chocolate, it can be served as a dessert or at high tea."

I know what you are thinking though...what the heck is a sylphid figure? I had to look it up. It means - 1. a slender and graceful woman or girl - 2. an imaginary being inhabiting the four elements once believed to make up the physical world. Sylphs dwelt in the air and were light, dainty, and airy beings. Doesn't this sound delightful?

Anyways on to the recipe.
There are many steps throughout this recipe, its not one of those quick as pie ones, so you'll need some time and patience.
You can either use an 8" cake pan or I used 2 6" cake pans for a smaller cake. This cake doesn't rise very high so if you use an 8" cake you will only be able to split it in half once. If you want more than one layer of frosting I would suggest doubling the recipe for 2 8" pans.

For the Cake:
1 cup semisweet chocolate bits
1 heaping tbs of instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbs of boiling water (refer to Ex. 1)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup cake flour sifted
31/2 tbs softened unsalted butter
For the egg whites: 1/8 tsp cream of tarter, a pinch of salt, and 1 tbs sugar

Ex. 1 - You can buy instant espresso at the grocery store in the coffee section. However not all grocery stores have it so you might have to hunt around. I usually buy it in bulk at

First step is to lightly butter the inside of your cake pans and then roll flour on the inside covering the bottom and sides of pan. Set oven at 350.

Second step is to melt the 1 cup of chocolate with the coffee in a small sauce pan over low heat, cool till tepid.

Third step is to separate the eggs. Place the yolks in one mixing bowl and the egg whites in another. If you have 1 mixer & 1 hand held, or 2 hand held this will be easier for you other wise you will have to keep rinsing your beaters. Or you can hand mix with a whip. Measure out cake flour and sift into another bowl. Either with a mixer or a large whip, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for several minutes till mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Then beat in the melted chocolate and the soft butter.

With clean beaters or whip, beat the egg whites until foamy, then beat in the salt and cream of tarter. Continue to beat till soft peaks form. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat till stiff peaks form.

Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate/egg yolk mixture. When partially blended, mix 1/4 of the cake flour into the mixture and fold in rapidly and delicately. Repeat this process with the remaining egg whites and flour till its all been blended.

Pour your batter into your prepared cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes. If you are using smaller cake pans, set your timer for 20-25 minutes. Cake is done when tooth pick or cake tester comes out clean from center of cake. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes or so before removing the cake from the pan.

Ex. 2 - Cake kind of looks like a sponge when done, hence "Chocolate Sponge Cake".

For the Filling:
Crème au Beurre à l'Anglaise
Custard Butter Cream

4 egg yolks
2/3 sugar
1/2 cup hot milk
1/2 lb. softened unsalted butter
Flavoring choices: 3 tbs of rum, kirsh, orange liqueur, or strong coffee; or 1 tbs vanilla; or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate melted (I used some Grand Marnier, you can basically use any flavoring you want)

Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Gradually beat in the sugar and beat till mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Heat the milk and then gradually add it to the egg mixture. Transfer the mixture into a sauce pan and stir with a wooden spoon over moderately low heat until mixture thickens. This part takes awhile. Make sure to stir often and be careful not to overheat or your eggs will curdle. Its done when the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon with a light cream. Set the pan in cold water and stir till tepid. Rinse out your mixing bowl from before and strain the custard into the bowl. With a mixer gradually beat in the softened butter by spoonfuls. Beat in the flavoring of choice. Beat till smooth.

For the Glaze:
Chocolate Glaze

1 cup semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup coffee (coffee helps bring out the chocolate flavor)

Melt chocolate with the coffee and let cool till tepid.

Assembling the Cake:
Cut your cakes in half and level. Place your cake on a plate or cake board, whatever you want to display or serve it on. Fill your cake layer by layer with the custard filling. Crumb coat your cake which is basically frosting the cake with a thin layer of the custard filling so that when you are ready to glaze your cake, you won't get crumbs falling off or mixing with your glaze. See Ex. 3.

Then put your crumb coated cake into the fridge to set. When you are ready to glaze, pour the chocolate over the top, letting it fall down the sides. I used an offset spatula to smooth the glaze around the sides and top. You can decorate however you would like. I grated some chocolate on top and placed a leftover sugar flower that I had to seal the deal.

et Voila!

My husband and I were meeting friends out for dinner so we brought along the cake. This cake was really yummy, quite rich but the custard buttercream kept the cake wonderfully balanced. It tasted quite French! We stuffed ourselves with great food and a delicious cake!

La Fin.

Stay tuned for next weeks recipe!


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful cake...and great idea!

Pam F.

Rox said...

My mom has the Julia Child book you're referring to. I am making this today, as it's her birthday tomorrow...when she was a cake, she wants a CAKE!

Nick said...

wow, your cake looks beautiful! i'm going to attempt making this cake very soon and i hope it works out... love your pictures!