Top hats for Christmas

What baker doesn’t watch all the baking competition shows, especially those like the Great British Bakeoff that feature us amateur bakers, and think “heck, I could do that”! Hence the origin of my meant-to-be-reminiscent-of-Dickens top hat entremets that I thought would be appropriate for Christmas. (And might I just add, it’s never too early to plan one’s Christmas menus!)

From last year’s Christmas, I was quite pleased with how these turned out for my first-ever attempt to create something this complicated. Even if not everything worked out as it should, and I’d do some things differently next time. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for your next special Christmas menu!

Silicon mold from Silikomart, tall cylinder shape

The cake – For this I used the Chocolate Genoise from patissiers William and Suzue Curley, in their Patisserie book (which I highly recommend as a Bible of all things patisserie). (If you don’t have this, there are other chocolate genoise recipes on the internet). This I followed to the letter, using two different sized circle cutters to form the brim, and a second disc of cake in the hat (cutters from Ateco).

The mousse – I didn’t have a go-to White Chocolate Mousse recipe, so I just searched online and came up with this Betty Crocker one that worked perfectly and tasted delicious. I also scattered some Callebaut Milk Chocolate Crispearls in the mousse. I have LOVED these crispearls in other deserts, and they add a nice crunch in something otherwise very soft.

The jelly – This entremet was built around the idea of a mulled wine jelly to begin with, a recipe which I had found in the Great British Puddings book from The Pudding Club. This is pretty basic, but creative all the same – hadn’t occurred to me to make mulled wine into a jello! (to use the US vernacular) You could use any mulled wine recipe; I happened to have a pre-made German mulled wine from the local Spec’s liquor so didn’t have to start from scratch. I amped it up with a bit of additional spice and citrus zest, added my gelatin sheet, and several hours later, Bob’s your uncle.

In retrospect, it might not have been the best foil to the sweetness of the cake and mousse – probably next time I’d try for a little tart-er jelly to stand out and offset all the sweet. But on its own as a jelly, it was delicious! and I’ll definitely try that again.

The ganache – Back to the Curleys’ Patisserie book for the Dark Chocolate Ganache to pour over the outside.

The piping cream – I had tried (and failed) to make a marshmallow fondant to act as the ribbon around the hat, which would have made it look much more like a hat!

Never mind, plan B was this Perfect Buttercream for Piping from The Creative Bite blog. The small flowerets tasted great, even if they didn’t add to the impression of a top hat. Same frosting, colored, for the leaves and berries.

Whew! So that was that – took a good day and then some for me to put this together. So you definitely want to plan this out and make the use of the downtime when you have to be refrigerating waiting for something to set. Done well, however, seems to me they are totally worth it, and they do impress the family!

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