It is often the most unusual or memorable moments in my life that inspire me to create. Since childhood, I have been infatuated with the enigma and sheer brilliance of Agatha Christie. Her deep understanding of the human psyche as told through her ingenious plots and narrative talent, truly helped shape my moral compass and personality. To say that I am simply an Agatha fan would be quite a massive understatement.
Agatha’s elaborate mysteries (which rival the sales of Shakespeare and the Bible) have sold billions of copies world-wide. Her best-selling novels, in particular contain the infamous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot… commonly known for his impeccable moustache, perfectionism and little grey cells.
I was always drawn towards the character of Poirot… so when I recently met with extraordinary character actor, David Suchet, who is accredited for bringing the much loved moustached detective to life – I was in a state of shock and awe.
Words cannot describe the incredible meeting that I shared with David; who played Poirot for over 25 years. However, after the encounter I was left with an unusual sense of melancholy and nostalgic yearning for my little Belgian friend. I had become inspired and had to release these emotions by using my creativity as an outlet.
This Belgian Mocha Mousse Layer Cake is a homage to the infamous moustached detective. The cake is comprised of four layers of vanilla sponge soaked with chocolate liqueur, two layers of dark mocha ganache and one thick layer of white chocolate mousse (all the chocolate is Belgian, of course!).
The flavours of the light white chocolate mousse and dark mocha ganache contrast perfectly with the chocolate liqueur soaked vanilla sponge cake. The cake is also covered in a thick mocha glaze that drips beautifully down the sides, showing off those incredible layers. It is wickedly delicious.
This cake is particularly special as it is a celebration of my little Belgian friend. Many have bid adieu to Poirot as last year marked the end of the great detective’s story. But for me, the character continues to remain very much alive. This Belgian Mocha Mousse Layer Cake is incredibly rich, intense and decadent… oh, so good and so ideal for perfectionist, Poirot.
- 12 eggs
- 130g caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 340g plain flour
- 240g butter, melted and cooled
- Chocolate liqueur to soak the layers (I used mozartkugeln liquer)
- 125g white chocolate, chopped
- 180ml thickened cream
- 1 gelatin leaf, softened in cold water
- 1/2 egg, beaten lightly
- 230g dark chocolate, chopped
- 170ml pouring cream
- 30ml espresso coffee
- 3 egg yolks
- 40g caster sugar
- 220g caster sugar
- 30ml espresso coffee
- 160g dark chocolate, chopped
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until pale and tripled in size (8 minutes). Sift over flour in batches and fold in with a rubber spatula. Fold in melted butter. Divide evenly among 4 greased and baking paper lined baking trays. Bake until light, golden and centre springs back when pressed lightly (8-10 minutes). Set aside to cool before assembly.
- Melt white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stir until smooth and melted, set aside. Bring 50ml of the cream to a simmer in a separate saucepan. Squeeze excess water for gelatin leaf and add to the cream, remove from heat, stir and then fold into white chocolate. Whisk egg in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until thick and pale (2-4 minutes), fold through chocolate mixture and set aside. Whisk remaining cream with beaters until soft peaks form, fold through chocolate mixture. Refrigerate mixture for up to 3 hours or set.
- Combine dark chocolate, cream and espresso in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stir until melted and smooth. Set aside. Whisk yolks and sugar over a saucepan of simmering water until thick and pale (5 minutes), fold through chocolate mixture then whisk in an electric mixer until ganache is cooled at room temperature. Place in fridge until assembly.
- Cut and trim sponge cake layers into four 12cm x 23cm rectangles (or desired loaf pan size, my pan was 12x23, 6cm high). Place a sponge rectangle in the base of a greased and baking paper lined tin. Lightly brush the bottom layer with chocolate liqueur. Spread over half the mocha ganache and smooth top. Top with another sponge rectangle. Spread with white chocolate mousse, smooth top. Repeat layering with another sponge rectangle lightly brushed with chocolate liqueur and remaining mocha ganache. Top with remaining sponge rectangle, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 5 hours, or preferably overnight.
- Melt dark chocolate in a bowl over boiling water until melted. Set aside. Combine sugar and 60ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook until dark caramel in colour (5 minutes). Remove from heat and add 100ml water (be careful, it will spit). Return to heat, add espresso and melted chocolate, stir until smooth and combined. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Turn cake out of mould, slice and serve with mocha glaze.