Branch Crunch Cake

Recipe courtesy of Briea Nathan
Show: Halloween Wars Episode: Don't Go Into The Forest
TOTAL TIME: 6 hr 25 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive Prep: 5 hr 15 min
Cook: 40 min
YIELD: 20 servings
LEVEL: Expert

ingredients

GIANDUJA ORANGE CREMEUX:
  • 3 sheets gold-strength gelatin
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate hazelnut gianduja
  • 1 cup heavy cream
    ORANGE HAZELNUT SPONGE:
    • 2 cups hazelnut flour
    • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 1/2 cup cake flour
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 1/2 cups egg whites
    • 1/2 teaspoon dry egg whites
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • Zest of 3 oranges
      CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM:
      • 2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate couverture
      • 2 cups heavy cream
        COFFEE GANACHE:
        • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream, plus more if needed
        • 1 tablespoon crushed coffee beans (crushed with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy pot)
        • 2 cardamom seeds
        • Zest of 2 oranges
        • 2 teaspoons corn syrup or glucose
        • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
        recipe tools

        Directions

        Special equipment: 3 disposable piping bags and silicone mold/baking pans with 2 1/2-by-1/2-inch rectangular cavities

        For the gianduja orange cremeux: Place the gelatin sheets in a cup with ice water to bloom. Put the gianduja in a heatproof bowl.

        Whisk the heavy cream and egg yolks together in a medium saucepan and cook, stirring, until the mixture registers 185 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Add the bloomed gelatin, pour over the gianduja and stir until smooth. Add the orange zest and juice and blend with an immersion blender. Refrigerate the mixture until set up to a thick and smooth consistency, about 30 minutes.

        For the orange hazelnut sponge: Preheat the oven to 370 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

        Combine the hazelnut flour, confectioners' sugar and cake flour in a large bowl. Mix the cream and milk together in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients.

        In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the dry egg whites and half of the granulated sugar until soft peaks form, then add the rest of the sugar and whip to a stiff-peak meringue. Fold the flour mixture and orange zest into the meringue. Spread the batter on the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the sponge to cool to room temperature before refrigerating for 15 minutes.

        For the chocolate whipped cream: Put the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and then pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and thoroughly mixed in with the hot cream. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until cold.

        For the coffee ganache: In a medium pot, combine the cream, crushed coffee beans, cardamom and orange zest and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and immediately cover with plastic wrap. Let steep for 10 minutes, then strain to remove the solids. Add additional cream as needed to bring the total amount back to 1 1/3 cups. Add the corn syrup and instant coffee and return the mixture to a boil.

        Combine the chopped dark and milk chocolate couverture in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and set aside, undisturbed, for 1 minute. Using a spatula, stir in small circles from the middle and gradually moving out in wider circles, making an emulsion. Cool to 94 degrees F on the counter.

        Blend in the butter using an immersion blender. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool to 88 degrees F.

        To finish the chocolate whipped cream, put the cold chocolate cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip to medium peaks.

        To serve: Transfer the chocolate whipped cream, gianduja orange cremeux and coffee ganache to 3 separate piping bags. Cut the sponge into 20 pieces that are the same size and shape as the molds. Pipe some gianduja orange cremeux into each mold and top with a piece of sponge. Pipe a thin layer of the coffee ganache next, followed by a sprinkling of the feuilletine. Place the filled molds in the freezer and allow to set for 3 hours. Remove the cakes from the molds and pipe a squiggle shape with the chocolate cream over the entire top of the cakes to resemble a branch. Embellish the corner of each cake with gold leaf.
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