Pierre Herme's Faubourg Pave, or is it Rondelle?
Chubby Hubby and his fabulously sexy gourmand of a wife, S, are coming over for dinner tommorrow. When it comes to cooking for company, I am a big believer of the do-ahead - anything and everything that can be prepped ahead of time means less time spent slaving away at the stove while everyone's at the table (not that I mind in the least; in fact, far from), and more time actually at the table.
For several reasons, I made the Faubourg Pave from the Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme book today. I know C.H. and S are, like myself, major fans of the genius otherwise known as the Picasso of Pastry. Also, my ambition in life as of late (in case anyone hasn't noticed...) is to cook my way through the two Pierre Herme books I own. Typically, I'm not being very methodical about it. Instead of systematically working through the cake chapter, the cookie chapter, the tart chapter and so on and so forth, my approach (if one can call it that) has been one of random selection, depending on what sounds particularly enticing on any given occasion.
Named for the Faubourg Saint-Honore (the luxurious locale of the original Laduree tea salon, for which the cake had been dreamt up by Pierre Herme when he first took its helm), and shaped like a pave (paving stone), layers of caramel syrup-drenched chocolate cake and onctueuse chocolate caramel ganache hide a layer of tangy macerated apricots. The background note of salt (the signature Herme touch when it comes to all things caramel) is courtesy of the judicious use of salted butter (I used beurre d'Echire demi-sel, the fabulous high-butterfat AOC stuff that I know S loves). The fine balance of flavours is in no small part due to the chocolate used - a mixture of Valrhona Grand Cru Manjari 64% and Jivara Lait 40%. As with each and every of his recipes that feature chocolate, Pierre Herme specifies his preferred choice of Valrhona chocolate (and he only uses Valrhona). This may seem fastidious, but is actually critical in striking the said balance, particularly when unusual flavour combinations are in question. Manjari, blended from specially selected Criollo and Trinitario beans from Madagascar, is an alluringly aromatic chocolate that's not in the least harsh, making it the ideal chocolate for preparations with acidic notes.
The only thing I did differently was the presentation - individual portions shaped using my little oval rings rather than a whole rectangular cake, making the result more a Faubourg Rondelle rather then a Pave!