Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Early November is always a busy time for me as so many birthdays are happening in the first two weeks of November. We have quite a few people among our group of friends, and when you have about 15 of them or so, you will need to make lots of birthday cakes! Sometimes I wonder if it's a mistake giving your friends so many cakes to try. At first, I thought that I had the advantages because I'd have "victims" for all of my experiment cakes, but maybe it is not always true. You see, when you spoiled them with many cakes, their taste buds started to grow and become more picky. They know what they like and what they don't and that's when you know that they're really spoiled.
It was Aldo's birthday this time, it was on November 6th. Having eaten so many of my cakes, this guy knows enough to know that I really like to use strawberries and raspberries and its friends, especially during summer. You can really tell by the amount of pink cakes I have on summer. You won't see any chocolate or caramel or winter flavor at all when summer is here. So I guess he got a little tired of it and requested that his birthday cake must be different. He allowed me to experiment but not with fruits again, the exact words that he said was "surprise me". Oy! But okay, I guess it's an opportunity for me to get a headstart on fall flavors. To be honest, even though I have the advantage of finding berries pretty easily at this time of the year in California, I got pretty tired of it too. I'm ready for something different and for some reason, I always thought that caramel is the perfect flavor for fall.
I made caramel mousse once before but the caramel flavor wasn't too pronounced, although overall, the cake turned out great. I wanted more this time so I began to think of what other flavors go great with caramel. I immediately thought of banana, and creme brulee too. Since I couldn't decide which one goes better, I decided to use all three flavors in the same cake, brilliant! The hardest part is that I didn't have any solid recipe that I have tried before. So since Aldo was kindly "allowing" me to experiment, I thought hey, it's your own fault if it doesn't turn out great, right? :D
But anyways, I started with a base of chocolate sponge (thank God for leftover sponge which makes my life a lot easier). I moistened the cake with brandy and topped it with caramelized and flambeed bananas. A thin layer of caramel mousse goes on top of it, then I put vanilla bean creme brulee that I have frozen beforehand on top of the mousse. More mousse layer on top, apply the cocoa brush, and a layer of clear glaze. I felt that there wasn't enough mousse because the end result was not as high as I expected, but it turned out ok afterall. I used to associate caramel with sickly sweet, sticky stuff that makes your teeth screaming when you bite into it, but it was nothing like it. It is nowhere near "too sweet", I added salt since I didn't have salted butter (salted butter goes great with caramel), not because it was too sweet but just to balance the flavor.
In the end, I was pleased with the result. Although the decoration is super simple (I didn't want to overcrowd it with lots of stuff on top), I think it looked okay. I was so glad that it was a hit with everyone. I don't normally like to eat banana by itself, but you really can't go wrong with banana cake or dessert, especially when it's paired up with caramel and creme brulee! I have the picture of the inside this time. Happy Birthday Aldo!