The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.
If you read all of that and still have no idea what this month's challenge was, well, you aren't alone. All I knew for sure when I saw the title of the challenge, before reading the details, was that it sounded fancy. Because anything with a French title sounds pretty fancy to me...
Then I read the challenge. Hoo boy, it wasn't just fancy, but it sounded pretty complicated! Turns out, a jaconde imprime is a thin sponge cake with a decorative design baked into it, and an entremet is an ornate layered dessert, usually in some kind of mold. Together, it's that layered dessert wrapped in that decorative sponge cake.
I am going to be honest, I considered sitting this one out. It looked so much fancier than anything I have ever done, and was a little intimidating. With the newborn in the house, I just wasn't sure I'd be able to do it. But I decided to go for it, and I'm glad I did.
Little miss was glad to help, and there was definitely lots for her to help with. The jaconde imprime required two different batters - one for the sponge, and a thicker paste for creating the decorative pattern. Little miss helped me measure, pour, mix and stir the ingredients for both batters.
Once both batters were prepared, it was time to create my pattern. There are two methods for creating the pattern - the first involves pouring the colored (or, in my case, chocolate - I didn't want to use food coloring) paste onto a parchment lined baking sheet and using a pastry comb (or some other implement) to scrape a design into it. The other is to pipe the paste onto the parchment into a design. While my piping skills leave much to be desired, I decided to go for it anyway, and try to make a pattern specifically for little miss, who is very into pixie fairies and magic right now. Using a line drawing of a fairy from a Harold and the Purple Crayon book as inspiration, I set to work piping the chocolate paste onto my parchment. Little miss was happy to play photographer while I had my hands full... she takes good pictures for a four year old!
Anyway, once the design was piped onto the parchment, the pan was put into the freezer to allow the pattern to harden for the next step - pouring the sponge batter over the design. The pans were then put into the oven where they baked up really quickly. The recipe indicated a baking time of 15 minutes, but many of the other bakers mentioned that their jacondes baked up much more quickly, so I kept a very close eye on it as it baked. Good thing, too, because it was completely done in six or seven minutes!
The result? I have to say, I was pretty impressed - and I am not one to be overly impressed with my own work! How cool is that?? I made two pans - the one with the fairy, and a second of all stars, and I think they looked pretty cool, if I do say so myself.
Then I realized that I had another challenge ahead of me - constructing the full dessert. I had planned to use a springform pan, use the sponge as the wrapper, and have the outside of the dessert look like a pixie fairy casting spells (stars) around the outside of the cake. Unfortunately, I made my design (well, the fairy, really) too tall for the sides of the springform pan, and, even with the two pans of jaconde sponge, the circumference of my pan was too big for the length of the two cakes... so it took a little bit of creativity to piece together my finished dessert. Between the two cakes, I made three strips of stars, and cut out the fairy to use to decorate the top of the finished dessert...
Astheroshe gave the bakers complete freedom to choose the fillings for the entremet aspect of this challenge, so I don't have much detail (or any pictures) of that part of the process... but in case you are curious, I made a graham cracker crust, and filled my jaconde wrapper with a double layer of rich, no-bake cheesecake - a bottom layer of plain cheesecake and a top layer of chocolate cheesecake (with an extra sprinkling of graham cracker in between the two). Once again, the height of my jaconde wrapper proved to be a little bit off - the filling did not reach the top of the jaconde, as I'd hoped, but I still think it looked pretty cool.
Astheroshe, thank you so much for this challenge. I had never heard of these baking terms or techniques before, and was certainly intimidated to give them a try, but I am so glad that I did, and I have you to thank for it. This technique is really great, and I am really looking forward to trying it again - I learned so much each step of the way and know that they next time, I will be able to apply all of that to make an even better dessert.
To see the amazing, impressive and truly artistic creations crafted by the other Daring Bakers, check them out here.
1 day ago