Pear and chocolate is a classic combination. I always associate it with Poire belle Hélène ( the dessert was created by August Escoffier in 1870 in honor of Jacques Offenbach's operetta "La belle Hélène" ) which is a dessert that consists of poached pears, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
I was inspired by this dessert but at the same time I wanted to change things up and I combined besides chocolate and pears, pecans as well. It is the perfect match. Instead of making a classic chocolate mousse, I created a pecan mousse. I was not sure if a pecan mousse works since I have never tried a pecan mousse and I also never saw a cake with such a mousse in a pastry store. I do wonder why no one makes such a mousse because my pecan mousse turned out to be so delicious. And the pecan mousse goes so well with the pears. It is always a wonderful feeling when a cake turns out exactly how you envisioned it. Creating this cake was one of those happy baking moments and it reminds me why I love baking so much.
Making these cakes requires a few steps but it is worth taking the time making these petite pecan mousse cakes. It is so rewarding pouring the chocolate glaze over the petite cakes. In fact, this is one of my favorite steps of making little mousse cakes.
Makes 6 little cakes ( 7 cm / 2.75 inches in diameter)
- 155 g / 1 cup ripe (not overripe) pears, cut into 1 cm cubes
- 15 g / 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 50 ml / 1/4 cup pear juice or water
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 1/3 gelatin sheets (2 g), soaked
- Pour the pear juice or water into a small saucepan, add sugar and ginger powder and bring it to a boil. Set the saucepan aside, add the cubed pears and mix well.
- Divide the pear compote into six little moulds. The size of each mould I use is: 2.5 cm / 1 inch in diameter and 2.5 cm / 1 inch in height.
- Freeze the moulds for at least 2 hours.
- 50 g / 1/2 cup pecans
- 50 g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 150 °C / 300 °F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pecans on the baking sheet.
- Roast the pecans for 15 minutes.
- Towards the end of the roasting time (about 5 minutes), pour the sugar into a saucepan and let the sugar caramelize until it has a light brown color. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the hot roasted pecans and stir well. Spread the mixture to a plate that is lined with parchment paper and let the caramelized pecans cool completely. Roughly chop the caramelized pecans, place the pecans into a (high-power) blender and blend until it becomes a paste.
- Keep the pecan paste in a sealed jar. The paste keeps up several weeks in the fridge.
- 50 ml / 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 10 g / 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 15 g egg yolk / equals egg yolk of a medium sized egg
- 125 g / 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/3 gelatin sheets (2 g), soaked
- 55 g / 3 tablespoons pecan paste
- Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and bring it almost to a boil. Set the saucepan aside.
- Mix sugar and egg yolk in a small bowl. Slowly add the hot heavy cream to the egg yolk mixture and mix well. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, Over medium heat, stir until the mixture has reached the temperature of 84 °C / 183 °F (you will notice that the mixture has thickened). Remove the saucepan from the heat, Add the gelatin, mix until the gelatin has completely melted, then add the pecan paste and mix well again.
- Pour the mixture into a medium sized bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- In the meantime, whip the heavy cream until creamy. Fold the whipped cream into the pecan mixture.
- Fill hemisphere moulds ( 7 cm / 2.75 inches in diameter / I use silicon moulds) 2/3 with the pecan mousse. Unmould the frozen pear cores and gently press the frozen cores into the pecan mousse,
- Place the moulds in the freezer for at lest 4 hours or overnight. You can keep the frozen mousse cakes up to four weeks in the freezer.
PECAN BROWNIE BOTTOM
- 45 g / 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- 30 g / 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 50 g / 2 ounces chocolate (70 %)
- 75 g / 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 65 g / 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 egg (medium size)
- 35 g / 1/4 cup pastry flour
- Place the pecans and the powdered sugar in a pan and over medium heat caramelize the pecans. Place the caramelized pecans onto a piece of parchment paper and let the pecans cool completely. Chop the pecans roughly.
- Preheat the oven to 175 °C / 350 °F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and let it melt over low heat. Set saucepan aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk sugar, butter and salt. Add the the melted chocolate butter mixture and stir well.
- Mix the flour with the chopped pecans and fold it into the batter. Do not overmix the batter.
- Spread the batter onto the baking sheet (the size of a 22 cm / 9 inches square).
- Bake the brownie batter for 9 to 11 minutes.
- Let the brownie cool completely; cut out 7 cm / 2.75 inches circles with a cookie cutter.
- 60 ml / 3 tablespoons water
- 50 g / 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 105 g / 1/2 cup and 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 35 g / 1/3 cup unsweetened raw cacao, sifted
- 2 2/3 gelatin sheets (4 g), soaked
- Place water, heavy cream and granulated sugar into a medium sized saucepan and bring it almost to boil. Set the saucepan aside. Place the cacao powder into a big mug and pour half of the hot liquid to the cacao powder and mix well until there are no lumps. Add the cacao paste to the remaining hot mixture and stir well. Add the gelatin sheets and mix again well until the gelatin sheets are completely melted.
- Pour the chocolate glaze through a sieve and let the glaze cool to room temperature. If the mixture is very thick, add a few drops of water and mix again or gently reheat the glaze.
- If you do not use the glaze right away, pour the glaze into a jar and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the jar with a lit and store it in the fridge. You can keep the glaze for a few days in the fridge. If you want to use the glaze right away, let the glaze cool until it is lukewarm.
- Unmould the frozen pecan mousse cakes.
- Place each frozen mousse cake on a brownie bottom.
- If you made the glaze in advance, place the glaze (it has a very thick consistency) in a saucepan and gently reheat the glaze. If the glaze is too thick add a little bit of water to it.
- Pour the glaze into a jug (I use a measuring jug) because than it is easier to pour the glaze over the cakes. When glazing the cake, it is important that the glaze is lukewarm and not hot.
- Place the frozen cakes on a wire rack and place a deep plate under the wire rack in order to catch the excess glaze, so you can reuse the glaze.
- Pour the glaze over the frozen the cakes. Make sure that the mousse cakes are frozen when pouring the glaze over the cakes.
- Place each cake on a cake board and let the cakes defrost in the fridge.