I have a quick story to tell. It’s quite simple.
By the way….Merry Christmas!! Just so you know though, this post has nothing to do with Christmas and I’m sorry if you were looking forward to a Christmas-related recipe or story.
But here it goes. I made almond and chocolate pastries the other day because I’ve been currently obsessed with almonds for some reason: toasted almonds, almond extract, almond butter, almond cake, almond smoothie, almond everything….And chocolate…well, I’ve been infatuated with chocolate ever since I can remember. Nothing new there.
So just imagine the moment I combined my very two healthy obsessions, almond + chocolate. Colorful fireworks went off all over the place. My palette was joyous with triumph. And when my palette is happy, I am happy.
Well, then I happened to take these almond and chocolate pastries to a little get-together and share them with people, hoping that others would find these creations to be as tasty as I did. And they did! They seemed to enjoy them quite a bit and nothing in the world makes me happier than witnessing others enjoy sweets I poured my heart and soul into, especially when those people are friends and family.
“What are you going to name these sweet almond delights? They deserve an exotic name that goes with their strong character,” a nice lady whom I met that night asked me. “Oh, and before I forget…here, can you write the name of your blog down for me?” she asked as she handed me a black pen she had retrieved from her purse. I don’t think I had much of a choice.
So I shyly wrote down the name of this blog and prayed that she found nothing of the content to be too out there. Now that more people are finding out about sweet-lab, I worry that my narratives may be too much at times. You know, because sometimes I swear that I mistake this blog for a diary and just ramble on and on about stuff…Kind of like I’m doing now…
So anyways, I wrote the name of the this blog down for her on a piece of paper, but I still have not thought of a unique name for these pastries. Almond & Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls….maybe? That’s all I’ve got so far. I also like the name Sweet Almond Delights, but I think I have already used the name “delight” for a dessert name, so I think I’ll stick with Almond & Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls. I know, the name does not sound exotic at all, but I think that their powerful flavor will make up for their weak name.
These pastries are made up of a thin and spongy almond cake. Ganache is then spread over the cake and rolled to create cylindrical pastries. Smooth and velvety almond Italian butter cream covers each pastry. Toasted almonds surround each pastry, adding more almondy flavor as well as crunchy texture. I truly believe you may also be seeing fireworks if you get around to tasting these sweet almond delights…I mean, almond & chocolate mini cake rolls.
Yield: 18 mini cake rolls.
Store baked 1 day at room temperature. Wrap tightly and freeze for a couple of weeks-1 month in freezer.
Note: The thin layer of cake is called a joconde. The recipe for this thin cake was given to me by L’Academie de Cuisine. Give credit where credit is due! The quantities of the ingredients are very precise for this recipe and were given to me in grams precisely because of that.
Ingredients for Joconde:
93 g almond flour
43 g sugar
23 g AP flour
63 g egg whites
50 g sugar
Recipe/Procedure for Joconde:
1. Beat almond flour, sugar, AP flour, and eggs on low speed with a paddle attachment for first 15-30 seconds and changing to high speed for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make a soft to medium peak French meringue:
- Whip egg whites at high speed for approximately 30 seconds. Bring down speed to medium after 30 seconds. At this point, meringue should begin to look thicker and the yellow color of the egg whites should disappear.
- Begin adding 1 tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites while they continue to whip. Start to add sugar more continuously and in larger quantities when meringue gets shinier and it becomes stiffer.
- Turn mixer off and test stableness of meringue by whipping it by hand. Meringue should stand on a straight peak when it’s ready.
3. Fold French meringue into batter in two parts.
4. Spread batter onto a 10″ x 15″ sheet tray that has been covered with a sil pat. Bake at 400 F – 425 F for about 10 min. until cake bounces back in center when it’s touched.
5. Remove joconde from sheet tray and allow it to cool completely before attempting to remove it from sil pat. Set aside for later use.
Ingredients for Ganache:
4 oz chopped semi sweet chocolate
4 oz cream
Recipe/Procedure for Ganache:
1. Heat heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
2. Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour simmered heavy cream over chocolate. Allow cream and chocolate to rest for about a minute so that chocolate softens and melts.
3. Stir mixture gently from the center until everything is well combined.
4. Set chocolate-heavy cream mixture aside and allow it to cool completely at room temperature.
Ingredients for Almond Italian Meringue Buttercream: (Note: There will be plenty of buttercream left over if making a 1x recipe, but I just like to work with a large batch when making Italian Meringue Buttercream because a small amount of egg whites won’t whip well in my mixer. If you rather not end up with as much left over buttercream, you may adjust the times of the recipe (1/4x, 1/2x, 1x, etc.) so that it fits your needs best).
16 oz sugar
About 4 oz water
2 T honey
6 oz strained egg whites
18 oz butter, cubed
2 oz almond butter
1/4 tsp almond extract
Recipe/Procedure for Almond Italian Meringue Buttercream:
1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Mix water and sugar with fingers to make sugar is lump-free.
2. Heat water and sugar to 238 F (soft ball stage). Add honey when sugar and water mixture looses yellow color and it becomes clear.
3. Test the temperature of the sugar by numbing finger in ice-cold water, dipping finger in sugar mixture, and re-dipping finger back into cold water. Form the cooled sugar into ball with your hands. Drop ball onto a flat surface. Sugar is ready when it makes a sound when it reaches the surface and when it doesn’t sink in while resting.
4. Begin to whisk egg whites at high speed when sugar has reached or is close to reaching 238 F. Decrease speed to medium after about five seconds, just after egg whites have been broken up.
5. Begin to slowly add the hot sugar to egg whites while they continue to whip and meringue is soft and yellow color is gone. Be sure to pour sugar from the side of the mixing bowl and whip for about 20-25 minutes until the bottom of the mixing bowl has cooled off and feels lukewarm to the touch.
6. Add pieces of butter continuously to mixture when egg whites are fluffy and stiff peaks are close being formed. Do not wait for butter to become dissolved into the mixture before adding more of it. Stop whipping when buttercream looks fluffy and stiff peaks form.
7. Add almond butter and almond extract to buttercream. Mix well until ingredients are fully incorporated into buttercream.
Time to finally put it all together!!!
Ingredients for Almond and Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls:
1/2 C sliced almonds
almond italian meringue buttercream
Recipe/Procedure for Almond and Chocolate Mini Cake Rolls:
1. Toast almonds at 325 F so that they become toasted all through the center.
2. Place almonds into a food processor and press button a few times until almonds become finely chopped, but not to the point where they are too ground. Place almonds into a plate and set aside for later use.
3. On a flat working surface, trim off all four edges of joconde cake with a serrated knife.
4. Spread ganache over joconde with an offset spatula so that ganache covers every edge and corner of the cake.
5. Make 1.5″ marks on the top and bottom of cake and cut vertical strips, connecting the top and bottom marks to end up with nine strips of cake.
6. Carefully start rolling each strip halfway and cut the strip when it has been rolled half way up. Place rolled pastry into a sheet tray. Carefully start rolling the other half of the strip and place rolled pastry into a sheet tray. Continue to rolling until all strips have been rolled. You should end up with 18 rolled pastries.
7. Recondition buttercream if necessary by re-whipping it so that it is smooth and fluffy. Apply almond buttercream to each rolled pastry with a small offset spatula. Turn the pastry around with your hand as putting buttercream on the sides of each pastry. This is kind of a messy process. Be ready to wash/wipe your hands after applying buttercream to each pastry.
8. Sprinkle chopped toasted almonds around the sides of each pastry.
9. Place almond buttercream into a piping bag that has a #15 star tip and pipe a swirl or another decorative design onto the surface of each pastry.