From cakes, meringues and crème brûlées to gateaux and tortes – my idea of a French affair

by Chef Rakhee Vaswani

When the gods and goddesses of desserts arrived, they all landed and settled in France. End of story. How else can France possibly be the effortless pioneers who gifted us with luscious cakes, meringues and crème brûlées among other indulgent French desserts? This is probably why I decided that after our initial candid affair on the path of baking, it’s time we take a step ahead and move on to gateaux and tortes.
To begin with, Black Forest Gateau (British English) or Black Forest Cake (American English) is a chocolate sponge cake with a rich cherry-filling based on the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, which is literally ‘Black Forest Cherry-torte’.
In simple words, Black Forest Gateau is a light and aerated sponge soaked in either rum or cherry liqueur with Maraschino cherries and whipped cream and decorated with shards of chocolate. And no, I did not just describe the following picture. In Black Forest Haven already?

The science of baking: 3 types of sponge
1. Cold method (Pâte à biscuit): Normally used for sponge fingers or firm sponge products, making this sponge is actually pretty simple. Kick-start by separating the eggs and 3/4 whipping the whites.
Fold in half the sugar and whip the mixture till it forms a meringue. Meanwhile, whip together the yolk and remaining sugar until stiff. Fold in the meringue mixture carefully into the egg yolk mix followed by folding under the flour. Voila, there you go!

2. Genoese method (Pâte à génoise): This one is a little tricky despite of the method being super quick! Whip together the eggs and the sugar over a bain-marie to blood temperature. Place this into a machine and whip it to sabayon stage. Post this, fold under the flour. I would suggest you add in butter! Not only will this help you with additional moisture but it will also increase the shelf life. Say hello to timeless indulgence!

3. Stabilised method: However simple, quality concerns restrict this kind from entering my kitchen! After all, these are commercial premixes available in the market with glycerin and additives giving it a prolonged shelf life .
Essentials for that delightful chocolate sponge !
• Even aeration
• Firmer structure

Essentials for that delightful jaconde sponge!
• Rich batter
• Contains almond meal
• Moist texture

The big old battle : Vanilla v/s chocolate:
• Reduce the flour by 20% and substitute with cocoa powder.
• To avoid a not-so-happy ending with a dry sponge, increase liquid or fat by the same percent..

Chef’s secret for a shiny glaze: (Sshhh!)
• Add 1 presoaked gelatin to the ganache.


Black forest gateau

100g (80+20 g) flour + cocoa powder
100g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
whipped cream
100g dark chocolate (chopped)
50ml cream
For cherry compote
100g cherries
80ml water
50g sugar

1 In a bowl, sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder (dry ingredients).
2 In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar till sugar melts.
3 Add dry ingredients and eggs into the creamed butter alternatively along with vanilla essence.
4 Pour the batter in the cake mould and bake in a pre-heated oven.

Baking temperature: 170C
Baking time : 20-25 mins

For dark chocolate ganache
1 Heat the cream and bring it to a boil.
2 Pour the hot cream over the chopped dark chocolate and mix properly.
3 Sieve the ganache when it is hot.

For cherry compote
1 In a pan, take fresh cherries, sugar and water and heat them.
2 Keep heating the mixture and keep stirring till the mixture gets thick.

1 Cut the sponge in three layers.
2 Take one layer to begin with, add the chocolate cream on top. Spread cherry compote over it.
3 Add another layer of sponge. Repeat the process.
4 Finish the cake with the final chocolate cream icing. Decorate with chocolate shards, chocolate curls and cherries. Dust with cocoa powder and relish!

Chocolate raspberry delice

Chocolate Genoise Sponge
100g melted butter
2 eggs
100g sugar
80g flour
20g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp baking powder
Raspberry Compote
100g raspberry
100g sugar
80ml water
Chocolate Ganache
100g dark chocolate
50ml cream
Raspberry Chocolate Mousse
100g whipping cream
50g ready ganache
3g gelatin
Raspberry Compote
as required (as per flavour)

For Sponge Cake
1 In a bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together and keep it aside.
2 Take the egg and sugar together
3 Start whisking till it becomes pale, light and fluffy.
4 Add vanilla essence into the mixture. Mix well.
5 Fold the flour mixture slowly to the batter.
6 Pour the melted warm butter on top and mix it well.
Baking time: 20-25 mins
Baking temperature: 170C

For Raspberry Compote
1 In a pan, take raspberries, sugar and water and boil them.
2 Keep it on heat, till it gets thick.
For Chocolate Ganache
1 Heat the cream.
2 Pour the hot cream over chopped dark chocolate and mix well.
3 Sieve the ganache when it is hot.
For Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
1 Soak the gelatin in cold water. Keep it aside.
2 Take the whipping cream. Fold the ganache and raspberry compote. Mix well.
3 Melt the gelatin in a microwave or double boiler. Temper it with the cold mixture of chocolate mousse and fold it into the entire mixture. Mix well.
1 Cut the sponge into two layers.
2 Soak in regular sugar syrup.
3 Spread chocolate mousse over it. Freeze for 30 minutes. Add another layer of sponge. Spread chocolate mousse over it and ensure that the layers are equal in size.
4 Freeze for 2 hrs.
5 Cut into pieces and spread the raspberry compote on top. Garnish with Chocolate shards.

Rakhee Vaswani is a culinary expert and a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who is successfully leading Palate Culinary Studio and Academy, an international state-of-the-art culinary entrepreneurial center. She has hosted a variety of TV shows and has also published her first successful cookbook called Picky Eaters.

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