The perfect flavor pairing of chocolate and peanut butter in a sophisticated, yet playful, dessert.
Ever since I ate my first Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I’ve been a fan of chocolate and peanut butter and have a lot of fun taking that flavor combination to new levels. This dessert has many textures and flavor dimensions and is a winner in more ways than one. I entered this recipe in a Peanut Advisory Board competition, and it came away with first prize. This is one of my most complicated desserts. Make sure to read through the entire recipe before beginning. Freeze any leftovers: they will be fine for about one month, and you can eat them like frozen Snickers bars.
Serves 8 on its own or 16 as part of a fourplay
Line a 9 x 12-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
Put the peanut butter and praline paste in a food processor and pulse to combine, scraping the bowl. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave—use 30-second bursts—or melt in a double boiler and add to the food processor. Pulse to combine. Scrape into a bowl. Fold in the feuilletine thoroughly, but try not to break the pieces too much.
Turn the mixture out into the baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly into the pan. Cover with another piece of parchment and freeze until needed.
For the Chocolate-Peanut Praline
½ cup (125 g) smooth peanut butter
41⁄3 ounces (124 g) hazelnut praline paste (see Note)
2 ounces (56 g) white chocolate (preferably Valrhona), chopped
4 ounces (116 g) feuilletine (see Note)
Note: You can purchase the praline paste online from L’Epicerie (www.lepicerie.com). Feuilletine is also available online from L’Epicerie. You can also buy cigarette cookies from a gourmet store and crush them as a substitute for the feuilletine.
For the Hazelnut-Peanut Sponge
¼ cup (25 g) hazelnut flour
¼ cup (25 g) peanut flour
4 teaspoons (12 g) all-purpose flour
4 large egg whites
Cream of tartar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 g) sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped hazelnuts and peanuts
Heat the oven to 375°F or 350°F on convection. Line a 9 x 12-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
Whisk the hazelnut flour, peanut flour, and all-purpose flour together in a bowl. Sift two times to aerate.
Put the egg whites and a tiny pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk. Turn it on to low, and whisk the whites gently for 2 minutes, to start establishing a structure. The whites will look frothy but still a bit wet. Turn the speed up to medium and add one-third of the sugar. Continue to beat at medium speed until the whites have body and are just shy of having soft peaks. Add another one-third of the sugar and continue beating until the whites have formed soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and beat until the whites are glossy and smooth and almost stiff. Keep your eye on the whites, so you don’t overbeat them.
Sift the dry ingredients over the egg whites and fold them in. Spread the mixture evenly into the pan. Scatter the chopped nuts on top, covering the surface lightly but evenly. Bake until lightly browned and springy, about 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove from the pan immediately and let cool on the counter.
Remove the parchment paper and transfer the cake to a clean 9 x 12-inch rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment.
For the Chocolate-Peanut Ganache
53/4 ounces (162 g) milk chocolate (preferably Valrhona Jivara 40% cacao), finely chopped
1 cup (240 g) heavy cream
¼ teaspoon (1 g) coarse salt
½ cup (112 g) smooth peanut butter
Put the chocolate in a glass bowl. Melt it partially in the microwave, giving it one 30-second burst.
Put the cream in a small saucepan with the salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the peanut butter and whisk until smooth.
Pour one-third of the cream mixture into the center of the chocolate and stir from the center out toward the edges. Pour in another one-third of the cream mixture and continue to stir from the center out. Pour in the remaining cream mixture and stir, from the center out, until the ganache is completely smooth. Pour a thin layer of the ganache—use about one-quarter of it—over the cake in the pan and spread it evenly.
Take the praline out of the freezer and peel off the top piece of parchment. Invert the praline over the ganache and press down firmly all over with your palms to make sure you don’t have any air bubbles between the layers and that the praline will stick to the ganache. Peel off the bottom piece of parchment.
Spread the remaining chocolate-peanut ganache evenly over the praline and refrigerate until it sets, about 30 minutes.
For the Caramel-Chocolate Mousse
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (285 g) heavy cream
3 ounces (84 g) bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Le Noir Gastronomie 61% cacao), chopped
2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
¼ teaspoon (1 g) coarse salt
2 large eggs yolk
Put 2 tablespoons of the cream in a small glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.
Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave, in 30-second bursts, stirring between bursts. Let cool to 122°F.
Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks.
Put the sugar and salt in a very small saucepan and moisten it with enough water to make it the consistency of wet sand. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the sugar in the pan once it begins to take on color, until it is a rich, dark amber. Pour in the warm cream and 80 stir until smooth.
Meanwhile, put the yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk. Beat until light. With the mixer on medium, pour the caramel into the yolks, avoiding the whisk and the sides of the bowl. Beat at high speed until cool. Fold about half the whipped cream into the chocolate. Microwave for 10 seconds. Fold in the yolk mixture little by little, incorporating it completely before adding more. Fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Spread the mousse evenly over the ganache in the tart ring. Using a pointed cake trowel, comb the mousse to create ridges. Freeze overnight.
Unsweetened cocoa powder Gold leaf (optional) Caramel Sauce Chocolate Sorbet
Remove the cake from the pan and dust it lightly with cocoa powder. Cut into pieces to serve on its own, or cut into strips with a very sharp knife and then cut the strips on an angle. Garnish each piece of cake with a little gold leaf, if desired, and serve with the caramel and sorbet, if desired.
Note: In the restaurant, I spray the cake with a mixture of equal parts melted chocolate and cocoa butter, using a Wagner paint sprayer.