These past few weeks I’ve been busy flexing my pâtisserie muscles and playing around with chocolate. Chocolate sponge, chocolate ganache, tempered chocolate, painted chocolate, salted chocolate and my favourite: chocolate glaze, super shiny chocolate glaze (or as the French call it “miroir”).
A miroir is a molten chocolate cake-covering containing gelatine that is poured in one shot with the aim of fully coating the top and sides of the cake. Once cooled, the gelatine acts to set the miroir leaving you with a beautiful, smooth mirror (making sense now?) finish.
For a long time the chocolate miroir has been my nemesis. During my first attempts I didn’t have enough of the miroir to fully coat the cake in one shot and so ended up with ugly ripples and dimples as I tried to patch up the gaps. Then there was the “skin” that forms as you wait patiently for the glaze to reach the required temperature range (27°C – 29°C, yes I have the patience of a Saint waiting for the temperature to drop by almost 40°C!) which then spoils your finish completely if allowed to drop onto the surface as you pour. And then there are the pesky air bubbles to contend with that form as the glaze cools leaving behind pockmarks in the otherwise perfect covering as they burst. Perhaps you don’t feel my pain, but after hours mixing, baking, cooling and assembling the oft multi-layered cake to then not achieve the desired finish is a crushing feeling, especially for a perfectionist like me.
Sure, I can hide those unsightly dimples and splodges, no-one would know…no-one except me that is and that’s enough for me to get crazy angry at the situation. That’s when normally cool as a cucumber me gets real mad. I know, I know, what’s the big deal? Get over it! Well, hopefully I won’t have to worry about that anymore since I think – no, wait! Shhh, don’t tell anyone otherwise it’ll be jinxed – I think I’ve cracked it!
The key to sucess?
Firstly, make a big effort to very neatly cover your “naked” cake with a thin layer of ganache to provide a smooth surface onto which the glaze will be poured. This can be tricky and takes practice (you can find tutorials online…maybe one day I’ll get around to posting one) but is so worth it as the final finish will only ever be as good as your foundation.
Secondly, make sure there is PLENTY of excess glaze to hand, take a deep breath, pour, then very swiftly poke at those pesky bubbles with a sharp needle.
Finally, leave well alone until fully set, preferably under a cake dome to keep the dust off. Et voila!
Recipe (makes enough to confidently cover a 6″ cake in one-shot with plenty of leftovers for use at a later date)
60g cold water
2tsp powdered gelatine
130g caster sugar
30g glucose syrup (or golden syrup)
65g cocoa powder
75g double cream
• Sprinkle the gelatine into the 60g cold water and leave to moisten for a minimum of 5 minutes.
• In a small saucepan whisk together the sugar and 80g of water over a medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the glucose (or golden) syrup and cocoa powder until smooth. The mixture will be glossy. Stir in the double cream.
• Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boiling point (around 88°C). Strain the mixture into a large bowl.
• Allow the mixture to cool to 50°C – 60°C (will take around 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen) before stirring in the gelatine until dissolved and no streaks remain.
• Allow the mixture to cool until the temperature is between 27°C and 29°C (lay a piece of cling film directly on top of the mixture during this waiting time to prevent a skin from forming which will spoil your perfect glaze). If you want to speed up the process a little gently stir the mixture every now and again but be careful not to introduce too much air which will form those pesky air bubbles I spoke of earlier. This step can take an AGE (around an hour) so give yourself plenty of time and be patient.
• Once at the correct temperature, place your ganached cake over a tray (to catch excess glaze), take a deep breath and then go for it! Pour the glaze onto the centre of the cake and, as the glaze starts moving down the sides of the cake, pour about 1” from the edge to help it along its way to fully cover the sides.
• Immediately pop any air bubbles with a pin, then leave to set for around 2-3 hours before moving to a serving plate. The glaze will be at its shiniest within a few hours of pouring but will still look mirror-like by the following day. It will dull if stored in the fridge but will still impress all your friends and family if you really must put the cake in the fridge!
• Any excess glaze can be scooped up and stored in the freezer. To re-use, gently reheat in a bain marie to around 37°C to 40°C until the glaze is molten again, pass through a fine-mesh sieve, allow to cool to between 27°C and 29°C and away you go!
• Bon courage!