I have an odd question for you: would you like to make the butcher at your grocery store very happy? If so, I have the answer for you: ask for something really out of the ordinary, like 30 french cut lamb chops. It was as though these magic meat words set him free of the chains that ground beef and chicken breasts use to tether him.
He had me come to the back (behind the glass counter, yep that’s right, to the inner meat sanctum) to look at which racks he would cut. He showed me how french cut looks versus regular. He cut the first few in front of me to show me how big they would be. He even gave me a deal. And, and, and… wait for it… when I was walking by the counter a few days later, he recognized me and asked “how did that lamb turn out?”
Well, Mr. Butcher, it turned out beautifully. Leave it to Vij to have a great recipe for entertaining guests: Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry served on Tumeric Potatoes… Oh, and that’s after starting the evening off with Shrimp in Coconut Masala. Both Vij and the butcher came to party. And so did we. After a meal like that, I wanted to finish with a bang but did not want to overwhelm some pretty full tummies so I opted for a sort of mousse cake. The mousse had to have cardamom because cardamom = chai and chai= appropriate accompaniment to a bad ass Indian feast.
So, here is what I came up with.
Cashew Gateau with Coffee Cardamom & Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from Tartelette
3/4 cups cashew, toasted/skinned
1/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, divided (2Tbsp & 6 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp grated lemon rind
2 large egg whites
2 Tbsp melted butter, cooled
Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan. Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.
Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add 6 Tbsp of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Set aside.
Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute. Fold the yolk mixture to the whites. Pour the warm butter into a spouted container. Use your hand – working quickly and sprinkle the nut mixture in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it in carefully. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 22-25 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with non-stick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.
Coffee Cardamom Mousse
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup espresso
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp powdered gelatin, softened in 1 Tbsp cold water
1 cup heavy cream, cold
In a medium saucepan, bring the coffee, sugar and cardamom to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin until it is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Whip the cream just until it holds stiff peaks, do not over beat or it will become grainy and separate. Add a small amount of whipped cream first to the coffee mixture to loosen up the batter, then slowly fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Do not let it set completely before using it for the cake.
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tsp espresso
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 tsp gelatin, softened in 1 Tbsp cold water
1 cup heavy cream, cold
Over a water bath, melt the chocolate, milk, espresso and butter together. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved and combined. Set aside to cool slightly. Whip the cream just until it holds stiff peaks. Add a small amount to the chocolate mixture and fold to loosen it up, then add all the cream and fold together.
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
3/4 cup minus a Tbsp heavy cream
Place the cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat just until it boils. Then pour over chopped chocolate (in a heat proof bowl), allow to stand about one minute before carefully and slowly stirring to bring together.
Make the gateau first, while it is cooling prepare the coffee cardamom mousse. Cut 6 3″ rounds from the cashew gateau, place in 3″ pastry rings lined with acetate. Pipe the cardamom mousse on top of each gateau evenly. Place in the refrigerator to set (about 30-45 minutes). While this sets, prepare the chocolate mousse. Then pipe the chocolate mousse evenly on top of the cardamom in the pastry rings. Once again, set in the fridge for 30-45 minutes. While this sets, prepare the chocolate ganache. Place the ganache into a spouted container and pour into each mold to finish. Place in the fridge to set completely, about 2 hours. Remove the rings and acetate to admire your beautiful mousse cakes. Keep in the fridge until about half an hour before serving.