Daring Bakers January 2011: Jaconde Imprime Entremets

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.

I had never heard of this month's challenge. Essentially, it is a French sponge cake that has a pattern baked into it, and then it is cut and used in a mold to encase something delicious. Usually, this deliciousness is a pastry cream, mousse, or other similarly creamy concoction, perhaps sandwiched between layers of cake and topped off with whipped cream. Our challenge was to make the jaconde imprime (patterned cake), make it into a mold of our choosing, and to fill it with whatever we desired.

The cake itself is made from almond meal, a touch of flour and eggs, and is not particularly sweet. The imprime batter, or the dense foodstuff that is what forms the pattern, could have been made either with the cocoa powder as I did, or left plain and colored with food coloring. Since I am not in the food coloring camp, I decided on the chocolate version first. Then, I spent part of the month thinking about what to fill it with.

The jaconde (sponge cake) has 3 egg whites, and 3 eggs in it and the imprime batter has 6 or 7 (I used weight measurements) egg whites in it. I couldn't bear the thought of making an egg-heavy cream to fill the petite desserts, especially since it may be awhile until I get back to my egg supplier. I could, however get behind the thought of the leftover orange cream cheese frosting from the cupcakes I made for New Year's Eve...

It would not be a lie to say that I figured that an ice cream made from this frosting would be the best one I've ever made. The frosting was on the sweet side, and my favorite (non-custard) ice cream base I usually leave less sweet. The marriage of the two would be one for the record books, I naturally assumed, and I assumed correctly. It took a couple of days to get truly hardened in the freezer, but still maintains the softness and creaminess that this ice cream base is usually lacking due to it's absence of egg yolks. What better to fill a cake with than icy-creamy orange and walnuts?

It bears noting that I would most certainly make a batch of this frosting just to use in this ice cream. I am famous for having all sorts of leftover frostings in my fridge, after all they nearly never go bad with all of the sugar they contain. If you would make the frosting solely for the purpose of the ice cream (and not to indulge first in Champagne Cupcakes), I would probably make a half batch. Unless you are thinking ahead and would like leftovers.

Orange Cream Cheese and Walnut Ice Cream (adapted from David Leibovitz via Burp!, Epicurious, and rcakewalk)
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. milk (I use 2%)
  • scant 1/2 c. sugar (I use raw)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • about 1 - 1 1/2 c. Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped into medium sized bits
In a small pan, heat 1 c. of the heavy cream with sugar and salt over medium heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl.

Pour remaining 1 c. heavy cream, milk, and vanilla extract into heated milk mixture and stir to combine. Place in refrigerator, and chill until well chilled. (This can be up to two days, or as quickly as an hour or two.)

Churn ice cream in machine according to manufacturer's instruction. I have this model, and it takes about 20-25 minutes to get fairly firm. (The ice cream will harden in the freezer, essentially the machine is churning air into it.)

When the ice cream is nearly done, add the cream cheese frosting in dollops, and continue churning about 10 minutes for it to fully incorporate and get a bit firmer. (Even though I used leftover frosting that was cold from the refrigerator, it still brought the temperature of the ice cream down, and looked at first like it was not going to freeze into a hard ice cream.) Just before transferring to a freezer safe bowl, add in the nuts and let them disperse evenly. Don't worry if it seems very soft.

Freeze for at least a day for best results. If you are eating it as is, it can be soft set in several hours.

A day or two after making (and trying not to sneak spoonfuls of) the ice cream, I commenced with the rest of the challenge. The imprime batter that would become the pattern of the cake was very thick, and also not too sweet. I decided that I would pipe a haphazard design onto my silicone mat, including my rcakewalk signature... can you see it?

I let it sit in the freezer for 30 minutes when I prepared the sponge. The sponge was easy, and tasty enough if not highly flavorful. The batter, however, seemed very loose and I wasn't sure it would bake properly. I have made other sponges, and when making this again I would probably go with a batter that is a bit more dry. It did bake at a higher temperature, so perhaps baking at lower heat would have solved my problem?

sponge over the design.

baked about 9 minutes.

Even though I had high hopes, I already knew that the sponge was kind of uncooked in the middle. It felt soft and springy, and was properly browned, but after I let it cool about 5 minutes and tried to carefully peel off the silicone:

It was damp - even falling apart - in the middle, but the edges were baked perfectly dry and fairly flexible. I considered trying to re-bake it, but it was already sticking to my confectioner sugar covered parchment paper so I decided to salvage what I could for the challenge's sake and move along with my life.

cooked edge, nice and sponge-like.

From the entire sheet pan, I was able to use just the edges to get two small desserts. I figured this was fine with me, since I've come to realize that the challenges are more of a learning process for me and that usually it's a bonus when something is tasty and works well. I also knew that given my flavor choices, my boys wouldn't be knocking me over to get to it either. Two little desserts that can be stored in my freezer, out of temptation's way, sounded just about right to me...

I prepared my egg rings into molds.

Carefully, I was able to cut the sides of my fragile cake. I also pieced together a bottom, and pressed it firmly to form a base. I froze the cake rings overnight, and the next day "molded" the cake into submission a little more. Then, I took scoops of ice cream, softened it in my hands, and molded it into the centers. I mounded more ice cream up over the top, relying on the parchment that extended above my rings to keep it in place. When the ice cream froze hard, I smoothed the top with a hot knife and popped it back into the freezer. Meanwhile, I used some leftover tempered chocolate from my Christmas baking to make squiggly designs for the tops.

When it was finally time to taste all of the components working together, I realized the cake is a decorative, supporting member of this union. Further, I noticed that my tempered chocolate garnish was not just artistic, it actually lent a much needed chocolate note to my finished dessert. The walnuts added crunch to the middles, and the cake is so thin that it defrosts quickly when removed from the freezer. Surprisingly, this is probably one of the best desserts I've ever made! I'm actually looking forward to trying to find a better way to bake the sponge; maybe I will be able to learn more after looking at more Daring Baker results!

One last "problem" I had was that the joconde imprime batter (the chocolate decoration part) made a huge amount. I could have tried to make another sponge, but truthfully, I just wanted to clean up the kitchen and be done with it. I put it in the fridge to think about what could be done.

Then I thought of my boys, who would most definitely appreciate chocolate cupcakes a little more than sophisticated French entremets. Using one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant's Book of Desserts that I amped up with a bit of cinnamon, I dropped truffle-sized balls into the middles of the cupcakes. They baked their normal 20 minutes, and then I let them cool down before examining and tasting them. The chocolate middles sank to the bottom, turning into an almost brownie base. I'm thinking if I would add some cayenne to them prior to rolling, I may have been happier with the flavor, and maybe I can try this since I froze the remaining imprime in balls.

But actually, when I tried a cupcake later in the day with a scoop of Orange Cream Cheese and Walnut Ice Cream I was really on to something. Cinnamon, chocolate and orange: my new trinity of benevolent flavors. A pinch of cinnamon (spicy Saigon Cassia) may just find it's way into my next batch of orange ice cream...

Even though I was totally procrastinating the challenge this month, I am so happy with my results. They may not have been perfect, but I feel like I really learned a lot. If you are interested in exploring the recipes yourself, you can find them in the Daring Kitchen recipe archives. Thank you to Astheroshe for hosting a great challenge, and I can't wait to see what some of my favorite Daring Bakers have come up with!