For home bakers and dessert lovers a tram ride to Acland St, St Kilda, Melbourne is comparable to a trip to the spiritual homeland. While many restaurateurs over the years have helped to build the reputation of St Kilda as a café district, four cake shops in particular (Monarch, Le Bon, Europa and Acland St Continental Cakes) have long formed the foundation of the distinctive Acland St experience. These cake shops are even colloquially referred to as ‘the famous four’.
In the context of modern Australian café culture, Acland St represents somewhat of a step back in time by offering an authentic post-war dining experience. While many cafes are replacing rich sweets and cakes with low fat and gluten-free options in order to meet the changing tastes of consumers, Acland St continues to provide an indulgent array of afternoon tea treats, served at small modest tables, with original lino floors still underfoot. And while there is evidence of concession to modern fashions (new cakes and biscuits do appear on the menus), traditional European baking traditions are preserved. These cake shops continue to provide the distinctive kaleidoscopic cake display windows which have earned Acland St culinary fame. Traditional polish cheesecake recipes, mousse cakes, strudels, gugelhopfs and poppy seed desserts all continue to take centre stage, even if they do occasionally now have to share window space with a newcomer like a red velvet cup cake, or a fuchsia pink macaron.
Our follow recipe for chocolate mousse cake represents littlebaking’s humble tribute to Acland St. We select this cake for three reasons. Firstly, we believe chocolate mousse cake is a signature dish of Acland Street because it represents part of the unique shared heritage of this café district. While not every café on Acland St may make a cheese cake, or a rum baba, they all have some version of a chocolate mousse roll, cake or slice. Littlebaking have also deliberately selected chocolate mousse cake because we believe it has experienced somewhat of a decline in popularity in recent years. And to be honest, it’s not hard to see why. Traditional mousse cake recipes have high quantities of butter in the cake batter, even more butter in the icing, and mousse fillings can be cheaply made using large amounts of cream which has been either whipped or incorporated with gelatin to create a thick texture. In conducting research for this recipe, we sourced one chocolate mousse cake recipe which included almost two litres of cream, and close to half a kilogram of butter. While any foodie would argue that occasional indulgence has it’s place, this seemed to us, sheer gluttony. Which comes to our third reason for developing a chocolate mousse cake recipe. We wanted to develop a cake recipe which offers a creamy and delicious texture, but a more health-conscious profile for our diabetic followers. While there are a lot of eggs in this recipe, and therefore may not be suitable for all diabetics (depending on the G.I philosophy you tend to follow), it has the benefits of no butter, oil or fat, and few refined ingredients (very low sugar levels, and no flour).
1 & three quarter cups of almond meal
3 eggs separated
Half cup of boiling water
Half cup of cocoa
Half cup golden caster sugar (low GI sugar)
Ingredients (mousse topping)
100g dark chocolate (70%)
1 generous tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of butter
Half cup of boiling water
2 teaspoons of agar agar
4 egg whites
Lightly grease and line a round cake pan. Fill the kettle and boil it. Preheat oven to 200C. Get deep cooking tray, half fill with boiling water, sit in the oven ready to receive the cake.
Measure cocoa for cake. While half cup of cocoa is still in measuring cup, add boiling water slowly to make thick chocolate paste. Keep adding boiling water slowly until cup is full and you have a smooth chocolate slurry. In a mixing bowl, put almond meal, egg yolks and sugar and beat with an egg whisk (or an electric mixer). When intense heat leaves the cocoa slurry, add this to almond/yolk/sugar mix. Beat all of these ingredients together until smooth and shiny. In a separate bowl, with a clean egg whisk or electric mixer, beat 3 egg whites until light and fluffy (stiff peak stage). Fold in chocolate/almond mix into beaten egg whites gently. Pour into prepared cake pan, and put into tray with hot water. Bake in oven for approximately half an hour (until skewer comes out clean). Texture of cake should be soft and delicate, but firm. Remove pan from oven and let cool a little before turning out. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack, but do this with paper still on bottom of cake (do not cool cake face down, as it is too delicate and will stick to the rack).
Prepare mousse topping now and allow time to set in fridge. In a saucepan, put broken pieces of dark chocolate, honey and butter. Melt ingredients on a low heat, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick. In a coffee cup, put 2 teaspoons of agar agar. Add half cup of boiling water and beat agar agar until dissolved. Add agar agar/water mix to melted chocolate mix. Mix well over low heat. Turn off heat. In a bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peak stage. Add chocolate/agar agar mix gradually to egg whites and continue to beat until a light fluffy mix. Put into fridge and let set for about an hour. The mix should remain very soft but still retain volume.
Add a thick layer of chocolate mousse to cake. Ice sides and top, or just top (depending on your preference). Once cake is iced, store in fridge.