When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

White chocolate mousse cake with summer berries July 20, 2008

Filed under: All-occasion cakes,Birthday cakes — crummb @ 12:23 am
Tags: , , ,

I’VE had it with whipped cream. Why is it so difficult to make? All it takes is one stroke of the whisk to turn what promises to be a luxurious, velvety cream into a grainy puddle.

It happened again today when I made this cake for R’s birthday party.

The white chocolate mousse frosting seemed so easy to make. Just bring double cream (which has a sinful, artery-clogging 48% of butterfat) to a boil, pour over white chocolate chips, stir till smooth, chill and whip.

I was so determined not to overwhip and curdle it that I used a hand-whisk. After every few strokes, I would stop and bring the bowl up my eyes to check for signs of curdling. If it looked okay, I’d carry on whipping, then stop to check again. When the cream formed soft yet firm peaks, I told myself to stop. This is it. Time to slap it on the cake.

But then, it looked just a little too soft. It may not be thick enough to spread on the cake. So, what the heck, I gave the cream one more swirl of the whisk. That should do it.

Suddenly, the cream appeared a little dull. There was no more of that wondrous sheen that was there before. Then, right before my eyes, it started to sprout a million little dots, like confectionery rashes. Dem.

To see if the entire bowl had curdled, I gave it a stir to bring up the bottom, inadvertently whipping it some more. If it wasn’t curdled then, it sure was curdled now. Dem dem.

It was too late (and too expensive) to go out and buy another three tubs of double cream. Since R and almost everyone else at the party were close friends, I went ahead and used the curdled mess. They’d be forgiving.

But what about the photo for this blog entry? I wanna show everyone what happened, but not so explicitly that y’all would stop regarding me as a baking genius in the making.

So when husband/photographer Z came home from his weekly bike ride, I showed him the cake – frosted with the grainy mousse and sitting in the fridge – and asked: “Can you somehow shoot it without showing how grainy it is?”

“Can,” he deadpanned. “I shoot this lah,” he said, randomly pointing to a space outside the fridge.

“Tsk. How about focusing on the berries so the mousse is all fuzzy and no one can see?” I persisted, pointing to the berries drying on the kitchen counter.

“Can. I just shoot the berries lah. The cake stays inside the fridge.”


In the end, the graininess was ironed out a little. When the cake was taken out of the fridge, the chilled mousse could thankfully be smoothened slightly with a palette knife. So the final photo turned out quite well.

But graininess was the least of my problems. There were more setbacks to come. By the time we lugged this cake to the party venue, the sides of the cardboard box had dredged two clumps out of the cake. Then, after R blew out the candles, bits of mousse on top melted. And to top it all off, when I removed the berries so the cake could be cut and served, they dragged away chunks of mousse, leaving behind huge potholes.

It was seriously the ugliest cake I ever saw.

Our friends, as always, still had nice things to say about the cake. But I just sat glumly in one corner and thought, Not only have I made what is possibly the fattiest cake on earth, it looked a right Quasimodo too. Unhealthy and unappetizing.

I am so not making this again. Hmph.


5 Responses to “White chocolate mousse cake with summer berries”

  1. zann Says:

    i demand a photo of quasimodo! there is too much perfection on this site! hahahaha

  2. crummb Says:

    And let you put it on Youtube when I’ve become the Martha Stewart of Singapore?! Hell no.

  3. Sooch Says:

    Hey, you should so try making Rose Beranbaum’s creme ivoire, if you haven’t already! I promise you, it eventually stiffens so well (yes, even in our climate) no cake box etc is going to drag a hole in it. And the taste is pure white choc…. Here’s to more perfection on this site!

  4. crummb Says:

    hi sooch, been wanting to say hi for a long time… but i’ve been busy fighting cake disasters! haha. creme ivoire – i’ve always wondered about this one, but i was put off by it cos the recipe requires 100 eggs or something… now i’m really keen to try it! do keep in touch. do you have a blog too? kisses from my En to your En 🙂

  5. Sooch Says:

    Hi Hi! No lah the recipe is really simple, the only finicky part is stirring and stirring and stirring some more over icy water without the bottom or sides hardening up first! So you put your mixing bowl in and you put your mixing bowl out, and you stir it all about, that’s what it’s all about…
    Hai I no time to do blog now lah, got full time job still. But soon! 🙂
    Kisses to your En too. So much joy and fun at this stage hor? We’re so blessed.

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