Just the other day, OCT and I lamented on the higher cost of living here in Atlanta, compared to our previous stint in St Louis. Not only do we pay a steeper rent, we also find the price of grocery here more expensive. We could no longer find the one dollar a bunch asparagus, nor 3 for two dollar red bell peppers that we were spoilt with at St Louis Soulard market. The rice which is a staple in our household is five dollars more per bag; even the all purpose flour demands fifty cents more than before.
Surviving on a postdoc fellow income, we certainly feel the pinch. But what good does it serve to whine about things we couldn't change right? Looking at the bright side, I have found some juicy sweet mangoes that could rival those from my childhood. Not to mention, they come with an endearing price tag too. They were fifty cent each in the Dekalb Farmer's Market the last time I looked. I told OCT that I intended to eat mango for breakfast / lunch / dinner / dessert from now on. Like any mango deprived people would do, I loaded a dozen of them into my shopping cart. At the same time, I started to think of all the wonderful things I'd do with them. Sorbet is definitely on the menu. Maybe a tropical tart or pavlova loaded with mango? OCT however, requested for a mango mousse cake. Sure, I can do that. It's only once in a blue moon that my rice-craving husband asks for something sweet for a change.
I don't really have a recipe for the mousse and mango mirror, I simply tasted and adjusted the flavor as I moved along. However, I want to bring your attention to the sponge cake base. The recipe comes from none other than Christopher Kimball, the editor of Cook's Illustrated. He calls it the fool-proof sponge cake. The method of mixing is new to me, and I doubt it would work. But who am I to argue with the editor of Cook's Illustrated, who has all the answers to the perfect recipes of everything under the sun? So I sceptically followed the recipe as it was written. To my surprise, the recipe yielded the most amazing sponge cake I have ever whipped out. Plus it doesn't require much folding, which could intimidate many novice bakers. I highly recommend anyone who needs a fool proof recipe for sponge cake to give this a try.
As for the mango mascarpone mousse and mirror, I promise the recipe will follow, after I have infiltrated my blood stream with enough caffeine tomorrow morning. Or afternoon. ;p Meanwhile, checkout the fool proof sponge cake recipe below.
Foolproof Sponge Cake
adapted from Christopher Kimball'sThe Kitchen Detective
Softened unsalted butter for the pans
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons milk (I used soy milk)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease two 8-or-9-inch cake pans and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
Whisk/sieve the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter melts. Take the sauce pan off the heat and add in vanilla extract; keep the mixture covered and warm.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer or whisk) and reserving the yolks in a small bowl. Beat the whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites to soft, moist peaks. If using a standing mixer transfer the beaten egg whites to a large bowl and add the egg yolks to the standing mixer bowl (you don't need to clean the bowl).
Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and turns a pale lemon color, about 5 minutes. Add in the beaten egg whites to the yolks, but do not mix.
Sprinkle/sieve the flour mixture over the egg whites and mix on low speed for 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in one side of the batter and pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed, about 8 strokes. Also make sure that you have incorporated the butter into the mixture. There should not be visible grease/oil as you pour the mixture into the cake pans.
Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, about 16 to 18 minutes for 9-inch cake pans and 20 to 22 minutes for 8-inch cake pans.
Cool completely on racks. Run a thin knife around the inside of the cake pans and then invert them onto the racks (or onto cardboard rounds or tart pan bottoms) to release the cakes from the pans. Remove the parchment paper.
To make the Mango Mascarpone Mousse
2 cups mango puree, from 2 large ripe mango
1 teaspoon of lime juice
3/4 cup heavy cream,
3/4 cup mascarpone,
1 (1/4oz)pack of gelatin powder,
1/4 cup sugar or more to taste
Puree flesh of 2 large mango in a blender to obtain 2 cups of mango puree. Add in the lime juice.
Sprinkle the gelatin powder in 1/4 cup of water, set aside for 5 minutes. After that, heat the mixture in microwave for 10 second, until the gelatin has dissolved.
Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer/hand mixer, beat the mascarpone and sugar until it becomes light, add in the mango puree mixture and beat for another 3 minutes to combine. Taste, make sure that it's slightly sweeter than how you would like the mousse, keep in mind that the heavy cream fold in later will somehow dilute the flavor. Add in extra sugar, one tablespoon at a time until the desired sweetness. Pour the mango-mascarpone mixture to another big bowl, gently stir in the gelatin mixture. Mix well to combine.
Without washing the whisk attachment and mixing bowl, beat heavy cream until medium peak form. Fold the heavy cream into the mango mascarpone mixture.
Using a 8/9-inch sprinform pan or ring, layer one sponge cake at the bottom of the pan, and pour half of the mousse in. Use an offset spatula to smoothen the mousse. Next, layer the second sponge cake on top of the mousse. Follow by the remaining mousse. Cover the mousse with saran wrap and chill the cake while preparing the mirror.
To make the Mango Mirror:
1 cup of mango puree, from one ripe mango
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 a pouch of gelatin powder
Sprinkle the gelatin powder in 1/4 cup of water, set aside for 5 minutes. When the gelatin is softened, microwave the mixture for 10 seconds, until the gelatin has fully dissolved.
In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of mango puree with 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice and 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar, to taste. Mix in the gelatin powder. Once the mirror is made, immediately pour on top of the mousse. Chill in fridge for at least 4 hours.