Inspired to create a glittery, shiny, light reflecting dessert for this month's Sugar High Friday, I knew right away I would use some sort of mirror glaze. This month's theme, All That Glitters, allowed me the opportunity to work with a berry I have never personally used before in my desserts and have rarely seen at bakeries around town. It just so happens that this month is also my sister Caroline's birthday and she absolutely loves acai berries.
The acai berry is incredibly nutritious and not only is it the highest antioxidant fruit, the sustainable harvesting of it helps preserve the Amazon rain forest. It is definitely less sweet than your typical berry and has a dark berry/cocoa flavor to it. For this reason, I chose to cut the flavor a bit with some pomegranate and blueberry in my mousse.
You can find acai in juice form and frozen puree form at your grocery store. I used Sambazon puree and juices as well as Bossa Nova juice throughout my recipes. Sambazon offers acai puree, which worked great for creating my mousse. Bossa Nova offered a pure acai juice, which helped to create my mirror glaze.
Since acai is a relatively recently discovered fruit, I could not find any dessert recipes using it. I decided to adapt a couple of recipes and things turned out pretty well.
I started with my pre-baked sweet dough tart crust, then filled it with a white chocolate ganache with crushed pistachios. I then added the acai mousse, inside of which is a orange chiffon cake and topped it all off with an acai mirror glaze.
The flavors paired very nicely and the sweetness of the white chocolate ganache helped since the mousse itself was not actually overly sweet (due to the acai). It seems like a lot of steps to put together, but the whole process can be easily spread over several days (which is in fact what I did).
I first built the mousse and cake layer, then froze it for a day. Then I prebaked the tart shell and filled it with the ganache to set. I then glazed the mousse and set it on top of the ganache to defrost. My sister loved her birthday cake and I hope you will too!
Orange Chiffon Cake
Makes 2 cakes (8" each)
1 # cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1# 5oz egg yolks
8 fl oz vegetable oil
8 fl oz orange juice
1 Tbs vanilla
1# 5oz egg whites
1 orange, zest
1. Sift the dry ingredients together and mix with 1/3 of sugar.
2. Combine yolks, oil, juice, zest, vanilla in mixer. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into larger bowl and set aside.
3. Whip the whites on medium speed until soft peaks form (you will see white foam). Increase speed and gradually add the remaining sugar. Continue to whip to create a medium peak meringue.
4. Gently fold 1/3 of meringue into yolk mixture to fully combine. Fold in rest of meringue.
5. Divide into two lined cake pans and bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.
6. Allow cakes to cool completely, then cut the top off of one cake.
7. Brush cake with a simple syrup infused with Cointreau (boil 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water then add 1 tablespoon Cointreau)
8. Place in fridge or freezer until ready to use.
*In this tart I only use one of the cakes. You can wrap and freeze the second cake to use at another time.
White Chocolate Ganache with Crushed Pistachios
1/2 cup pistachios, ground
1/2 # white chocolate
1/2 cup cream
1. Bring cream to a boil then pour over chocolate. Stir to fully combine and melt the chocolate.
2. Add pistachios and mix well.
3. Pour into prebaked tart shell and spread evenly. Allow to set in fridge.
1/2 cup water
13g gelatin (powder)
500g Acai puree (thawed) *if you can't find puree, you can also use acai juice
1. Whip cream to soft peaks and set aside in fridge.
2. Whisk first measure of water with gelatin and allow to set for about 2 minutes.
3. Bring sugar and water to a boil, then remove from heat. Immediately mix in gelatin.
4. Combine this mixture with acai puree in a large bowl, stirring to combine.
5. Allow mixture to cool completely and just start to set. It is important to stir this mixture constantly so that you don't end up with acai jello. This is made much easier by having an ice bath ready. Have a larger bowl full of ice and water to place the acai mixture bowl inside. Continue to stir.
6. Once mixture has just started to gel, gently fold in the whipped cream.
7. Line the bottom of a 10" springform pan with plastic wrap. Pour 1/2 of acai mousse into bottom.
8. Place prepared cake (brushed with syrup) into center of mousse and press down.
9. Pour remainder of acai mousse on top and place in freezer to set.
Acai Mirror Glaze
10oz Acai juice
1 pkg gelatin
1. Mix ingredients in saucepan over low heat for about 25 seconds to just dissolve the gelatin.
2. Pour on top of frozen mousse (still inside of springform pan). Return to fridge to set.
3. Once mirror glaze has set, remove (still frozen) mousse from springform pan and place on top of tart shell (prefilled with ganache).
4. Allow mousse to fully defrost before serving.