Like OMG… I had been enjoying The Daring Bakers challenges so far but when this month’s challenge was announced, I felt just a little bit nervous. If the above title seems rather fancy to you, then seeing what it is will give you an idea of how fiddly this challenge was going to be. If you’ve ever been to a well posh patisserie and seen the beautiful cakes with the decorative sponge exterior, then that is what biscuit joconde imprime is.
I procrastinated greatly with this challenge. I was at home a lot with my boy over the school holidays and had ample time and opportunity to do the challenge but every time I read the recipe and instructions, I conveniently found other things to do!
Finally I decided to make a start. If my first attempt didn’t work then I knew I could try again. I also started looking at some of the early bird Daring Bakers’ attempts at joconde and reading their many tips and advice, which convinced me to dedicate an afternoon to the challenge.
The instructions provided by this month’s hostess Astheroshe was very clear and easy to follow. There *is* a fair amount of things to cover so it doesn’t hurt to read through the instructions a couple of times before you even enter the kitchen. You do need a clear head to complete this challenge so I also recommend doing this when there are no major distractions around you :)
I didn’t want to get too fancy with the design for my joconde in case it all went pear shaped so I chose a random squiggle design which I sadly (by sad, I mean it’s just plain sad I don’t have a piping bag in the house…) made with a freezer bag filled with the joconde paste. My plans to colour my paste a nice reddish pink went flying out the window when I remembered that I had used my red food colouring for a failed craft project. Thankfully cocoa is always a saviour.
I had picked up a few tips from my fellow Daring Bakers so preheated the oven well beforehand to get it super hot, and delayed making the sponge mixture until my joconde paste went into the freezer. The one thing I forgot to take heed of was keeping an eye on the sponge as it baked. My joconde probably needed a minute to 30 seconds less baking time. I also feel I should have used some oil spray on the silicon mat as getting the joconde sponge off it was harder than I thought. Luckily I didn’t damage it too bad :|
The mould I had for my final dessert probably wasn’t the most ideal as its base wasn’t removable. I used some cling film to line the mould and in the end managed to lift the whole lot out in one piece. I’m pretty sure I would have cried if it fell apart at this stage!
Cherries were in season at the time and I had hoped to use them in the challenge but having used cocoa to colour my joconde paste, I decided to go with a chocolate and caramel entremets (the layered filling you put inside your mould). I made up some chocolate bavarois (which needed to be more firm :( ), a batch of salted caramel and a special crunch mix of peanuts, pretzels and hershey chocolate. I layered the sponge with some of the caramel and spooned on some bavarois. I next made a layer of the crunch mix and more bavarois on top. I finished the dessert with more crunch mix.
I believe this style of dessert is meant to only have the decorative joconde come up to half the height of the overall cake but as my filling was so unstable, I have the sponge go up the entire height of my dessert. Other than that, I was rather chuffed that I had made something that looked like one of those ‘fancy’ cakes.
I’m pretty sure I’ll tackle this challenge again some time when I want to seriously impress guests :D