Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Crunch Torte

I posted a photo of The Crunch Torte the other night, but only described to you what was wrong with it and never also described what it is. So here's a bit of info. Again, we made the yellow genoise (sponge cake) and used this for three cake layers. We also made chantilly cream which was placed between each layer and used on the exterior of the cake. The "crunch" came from an almond nougat, and here's how we made it.

We heated sugar, glucose, lemon juice and shortening in a heavy saucepan to 350 degrees F where the mixture thickened and became caramel. Chef gave multiple warnings about being careful in the process because sugar burns are perhaps the worst burns you can get. Anyway, working quickly, we stirred in the sliced almonds and then spread the entire mixture on a sheet pan lined with parchment and we then covered the top with parchment so we could use a rolling pin to thin out the mixture as much as possible. It sets up quickly so this was rather difficult. I should have taken a photo of this to show you, but unfortunately, you'll have to believe me that it looked like almond bark.

After it cooled, we broke it into small pieces and used a rolling pin to vigorously crush it into sand-sized pieces. I can't even fully describe to you how ridiculously time-consuming and tiring this was. Seriously, we rolled this stuff into smaller pieces for what seemed like an hour; I worked up a decent sweat and my arms were actually sore. This may be the result of the fact that most groups got to do this in fours while I worked in a group of two. The rationale for crushing this into such small pieces is so that the nougat doesn't stick in your teeth. (And yes, I did ask if this could be done in a food processor but apparently it can't because as it breaks it can form into a ball in the food processor and cause a real mess.) I totally get that we wouldn't want to serve something that would stick in a client's teeth, but I'm not sold that the labor needed to pull this off is worth the time it takes to pay someone to do it. The cake looked nice at the end, don't get me wrong, but it didn't seem to have that much flavor.

I did enjoy learning how to make the chocholate molded decorations. We used Semper, which is a chocolate that's already been tempered, so all we had to do was melt it, make a pastry bag out of parchment paper, and pipe the chocolate into molds. After the molds were cooled, we popped them out to use on the cake, careful not to screw up the designs.

I actually ended up witha good grade on this cake, because the crunch nougat on the outside was able to cover up a great deal of my mistakes. I don't feel great about that, knowing I had so much difficulty with the cake overall, but I guess I'll take it.

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