This elegant entremet, although multifaceted in appearance, is surprisingly simple in preparation and presentation. Its appeal derives from a light, sponge-like cake, which features and enhances the natural saccharinity of pumpkin. A layer and topping of cream and mascarpone mousseline juxtaposes the unsuspecting tangy accent offered by the addition of balsamic vinegar. Shaved Belgian dark chocolate adds an additional layer of indulgence.

For the Cake:

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 pound fresh or canned pumpkin purée
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the Pumpkin Sauce:

1 pound fresh or canned pumpkin purée
1⅓ cup powdered confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt

For the Pumpkin Crème Mousseline:

2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
¾ cup mascarpone cheese

For the Garnish:

Belgian chocolate with almonds, shaved and chopped coursely
Balsamic vinegar

Entremet is a French word, which means “between courses”. By the 14th century, the entremet evolved from simple intermediary dish before the next round of courses to elaborate designs and desserts (some completely inedible) that would surprise and delight the guests, including live entertainment with the entremet presentation. In fact, the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” historically tells of an Italian cook in the late Middle Ages who baked a large covered pastry shell and slipped twenty four live blackbirds inside of it through the bottom. When the host cut into the pie, the birds escaped, winging about in a frenzy to the delight of the onlookers. This entremet was popular through the 16th century and has even remained as an British Christmas tradition to pull presents attached to a string and hidden inside a paper pie. In today’s cuisine, the entremet is a presentation for the senses of textures and flavors, usually multi-layered with a cake base and mousse in an entremet form. Once chilled and set, the chef removes the form and the dessert displays its beautifully crafted components. Thankfully, entremets nowadays are edible and will not fly away.

To Prepare the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a half-sheet baking pan (15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch) and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture becomes light colored and slightly thick. Fold into the egg mixture the pumpkin purée, oil, and vanilla extract until well-blended. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sift through a sieve into the bowl containing the pumpkin mixture. Stir together. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly with a rubber scraper. Tap the pan lightly on a surface to pop some of the air bubbles. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the center is set and tests done with a toothpick. Remove the cake to a rack and allow to cool completely in the pan.

To Prepare the Pumpkin Sauce:

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée and confectioner’s sugar until well-blended and smooth. Add the balsamic vinegar, vanilla extract, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Whisk together and reserve ½ cup of the pumpkin sauce for plating.

To Prepare the Pumpkin Crème Mousseline:

In a clean mixing bowl, place the whipping cream and beat to stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, work the mascarpone cheese until it is soft. Blend in the remaining pumpkin sauce until well-combined. Gently as not to denature it, fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin-mascarpone mixture. Cover and chill until the crème mousseline is slightly set and thicker. Set some of the pumpkin crème mousseline aside for piping on top of the finished cakes.

To Assemble the Entremet:

Using 3-inch diameter metal entremet form, place the open cylinder on the cake still in the pan and press down. Leave the cake inside the form and use a spatula to transfer the form to another parchment-lined tray on which to build the entremet. Inside the form, spoon and spread an even layer of chilled pumpkin crème mousseline. Using another entremet form, cut another circle from the cake in the pan, but remove the cut cake piece from the cutter. Place the cake round atop the pumpkin crème mousseline layer, which should fill the depth of the entremet form. Chill for at least 30 minutes until the crème mousseline sets up slightly and will not lose its integrity when the form is removed.

To serve, spoon a few tablespoons of the reserved pumpkin sauce on a plate. Set the filled entremet form to one side of the plate atop the sauce and carefully pull the form off of the dessert. With a piping bag fitted with a large #18 star or #20 plain tip, swirl some of the reserved pumpkin crème mousseline. To garnish, sprinkle with the chocolate pieces. Place 4 consecutive drops of balsamic vinegar at the edge of the sauce. Using a toothpick, drag the tip counterclockwise through the circles to create a pattern effect. Serve immediately.

Yield: This will depend on the size and shape of the entremet forms. The 3-inch diameter rounds, having two layers of cake in each, produced about 6 assembled cakes, cutting them 3 across the 10-inch width and 4 down the 15-inch length with some allowance for cutting space.

Recipe Created and Stylized by R. Shannon Mock
and daughter, Brontë E. Mock


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