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November 28th, 2010Uncategorizedeataduckimust 73 Comments

Pumpkin Mousse Cake (entremet)

Grown men. Bawling uncontrollably. Over failed pastries.

Is that what happened to Jared this week?  I half wish it was true because it would have made for a great story, but alas no.  I speak of none other than our first inspiration for this cake challenge- Kings of Pastry, the incredible documentary that followed several contestants as they prepared, practiced and competed tirelessly for the ultimate title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF).  While many other international competitions such as the World Pastry Cup have been aired on television, the quest for the MOF has never been filmed before, giving the audience an exclusive window into this intense competition.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check here to see if there is still a small screening at a theater near you.

While this documentary did not have us running to join The French Pastry school, we certainly gained a deep respect for those in the business of pastry, especially finely hand-crafted french pastries.  Lucky for us we have yet another source of masterful French pastry craftmanship in Chicago.  Dimitri Fayard (part of the World Pastry Champion team 2008, also a finalist for the 2011 MOF competition!) and his wife Keli, run Vanille Patisserie.  Here, we discovered and fell in love with the most delicious pastry on the planet: the entremet (mousse cake).  We aren’t normally big on desserts, but we can’t stop talking about these entremets.  And every chance we get, we make a trip to their little shop in Lincoln Park to pick up a couple favorites as well as any new seasonal entremets they’ve dreamed up.  I’ve never met an entremet at Vanille Patisserie I did not love.  Seriously.

Vanille Patisserie Entremets Some of our favorite entremets from Vanille Patisserie

When realized we made into the 8th round of Project Food Blog, Jared immediately thought of attempting an entremet.  Now, I don’t typically like to send praises his way, but I was truly impressed with the amount of work, patience and thought that Jared put into this project. We certainly aren’t a household of bakers.  Heck we rarely even toast bread. And then for a while we thought we could just get by this challenge with something a lot simpler.  But seeing that we were this far into the competition thanks to all the love and support of our tiny number of dedicated readers (we’re pretty sure we can count them all on one hand, hi Mom!), he did not want to disappoint them.  He spent hours pouring over recipes, coming up with different layers of pumpkin and practicing his sponge cake before he got the right density.  And what he ended up with was a gorgeous entremet filled with heavenly layers of pumpkin.  This is his first and probably last ever entremet, so let’s just call it his pastry pièce de résistance!

Sugar and Kabocha Pumpkins

Sugar and Kabocha Pumpkins

The mousse cake starts with a moist sponge cake on the bottom.  You can also use a graham cracker crust to give it some extra crunch.  The layer directly above the cake is a kabocha pumpkin gelee.  The kabocha variety has a deeper pumpkin flavor than a sugar pumpkin, so Jared chose that as a platform for the gelee.  The gelee adds a chewy texture right over the sponge cake.  The third layer is the vanilla bean poached sugar pumpkin.  And surrounding everything is a luxuriously rich pumpkin spiced mascarpone mousse.  The light fluffy mascarpone cream is not overly sweet and goes perfectly with the light flavor of the pumpkin.  And finally, a white chocolate glaze is dyed with a tiny bit of orange color to continue with the pumpkin theme and is drizzled over the mousse cake to help hold the shape.  And to top it all off, roasted pumpkin seeds are placed on the top to add both a crunchy texture and a bit of salinity.

Pumpkin Mousse Cake, Entremet

the anatomy of jared’s pumpkin entremet (mousse cake)

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

3 large eggs, room temperature
65g sugar
40g cake flour
20g unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. Line a 8″ square jelly roll pan with parchment paper, set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using a hand mixer, whisk eggs and sugar on HIGH speed for about 5 to 7 mins, until the batter has doubled in volume and is ribbon-like. Turn to LOW speed and whisk for another 1 to 2 mins. This helps to stabilize the air bubbles in the batter.
  3. Sift the cake flour into the batter in 3 separate additions. With each addition, use a rubber spatula and gently fold in the flour until well blended. Be careful not to deflate the batter.
  4. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, fold with spatula until well blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the tray. Spread and smooth out the batter evenly. Bake for 10-15 mins, until the surface turns golden brown or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove the tray from oven. Remove sponge layer from tray (with parchment paper still in tack), and leave it to cool.
  7. Once cooled, use a ring mold to cut out the cake
  8. Slice the cake in half (lengthwise) and set aside

Vanilla Sponge Cake

vanilla sponge cake, and what looks to be a product photo of his new whisk :)

Kabocha Pumpkin Gelee Recipe

½ Kabocha Pumpkin
heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoon sugar
2g gelatin powder


  1. Cut the kabocha pumpkin into quarters, remove the seeds and roast at 350°F for 20 mins or until the flesh is soft enough to scoop out
  2. Scoop out the flesh and simmer in a pot of heavy whipping cream for another 20 mins
  3. Soak the gelatin in some cold water to help it dissolve
  4. Strain the pumpkin and reserve the cream.  Using a hand held blender, blend the pumpkin until a creamy puree is achieved.  Add a little bit of cream at a time to help with the blending.
  5. Add the sugar and gelatin and mix until all the gelatin has dissolved
  6. Pour it into a shallow container and let it set in the fridge until firm
  7. Use the same ring mold as the cake and cut the gelee out

Vanilla Poached Pumpkin

1/2 sugar pumpkin
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
3 tablespoon sugar


  1. Remove the skin from the sugar pumpkin and cut into large chunks
  2. Add the pumpkin, sugar and water into a small pot
  3. Split the vanilla bean length wise and scrape the seeds from the pod.
  4. Add the seeds and bean into the pot
  5. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  6. Simmer for 30 mins or until the flesh is soft

Pumpkin Spice Mascarpone Mousse Recipe
adapted from our favorite sweets blogger Venus Wei

Mascarpone Mousse Filling

240ml whipping Cream
185g mascarpone cheese
120g granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8g powdered gelatine


  1. Soak the gelatine in some water to help it dissolve.
  2. Add water to a small pot and bring it to a simmer.  Place a heat proof bowl on top and add the egg yolks and sugar.  Using a hand mixer, beat until the egg mixture is pale yellow and slightly thickened.
  3. Add the gelatine and mix until dissolved
  4. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until it is incorporated
  5. In another bowl, whip the cream until you reach a soft peak.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.  Follow by folding in the rest of the whipped cream.
  7. Spoon the cream into a piping bag.
  8. Since there is gelatin in the cream, DO NOT LET IT SIT as it will set.

White Chocolate Glaze
adapted from our favorite sweets blogger Venus Wei

240g quality white chocolate, finely chopped
200g whole milk
80g corn syrup
7g gelatin leaf
orange icing color


  1. Soak the gelatin, set aside
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl then place it over a pot of simmering water, stirring constantly until completely melted
  3. In another pot, bring the milk and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Pour the hot milk into the chocolate and stir
  5. Add the gelatin and mix until fully dissolved
  6. Take a toothpick and dip it into the orange icing color.  Add coloring to the chocolate mixture and mix well.
  7. Remove the chocolate from the pot and stir with a rubber spatula until the desired glazing consistency.

Pumpkin Mousse Cake, White Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Mousse Cake, White Chocolate Glaze
These shots of shaving white chocolate bring back memories of running a truffle business many years ago.  But that’s a very long story for another time…

Pumpkin Mousse Cake, White Chocolate GlazeTempering Chocolate – Getting the right consistency for this glaze is not an easy job!

Assembling the Pumpkin Mousse Cake

  1. Using the ring mold previously used for the cake, place the cake at the bottom
  2. Brush the cake with the poaching liquid
  3. Add the gelee layer into the mold, over the cake
  4. Remove the poach pumpkin and cut into thin slices.
  5. Add the pumpkin into the mold over the gelee and using a small spoon, press down to pack the pumpkin in
  6. Remove the ring mold and place a large diameter ring mold around the cake
  7. Carefully pipe the mascarpone mousse around the cake and above the cake.
  8. Using a offset spatula, level out the cream
  9. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  10. Remove the ring mold by wrapping a warm paper towel around the mold for a few seconds.  Carefully lift the ring mold off.
  11. Cut a disk from cardboard slightly smaller than the ring mold and slide it under the cake
  12. Refrigerate the cake and make the white chocolate glaze
  13. Once the glaze is of the right consistency (like syrup), remove the cake and place it on a cooling rack.  Place the rack in a sheet pan.

Glazing the entremet (mousse cake)

  1. Carefully pour the glaze over the cake and let it run off to the side.
  2. Lift one side of the pan and gently drop it.  This will cause the glaze to smoothen out at the top and remove any air bubbles.
  3. Do not touch the top, use a spatula to fill in the side if necessary.
  4. Refrigerate the cake until the chocolate outer layer has hardened.
  5. Carefully remove the cake from the cooling rack and remove the cardboad underneath the cake
  6. Decorate the cake with chocolate curls, roasted pumpkin seeds and a dusting of cinnamon

Pumpkin Mousse Cake, Entremet

Chef getting a taste of the whipped cream

Pumpkin Mousse Cake

Enjoy your hard work as it is well worth it.  But in Jared’s case, this reminds him of a saying of those who climb Mount Fuji (which he has actually climbed!).  A wise man climbs Mount Fuji once in his life; only a fool climbs it twice. ;)

Pumpkin Mousse Cake, Entremetentremets (mousse cake)- a labor of love

one last gratuitous photo

* Photography sidenote: We’ve been experimenting with a new made up lighting technique this week, but rest assured these are all taken via natural light. *
Related Posts with Thumbnails

  • Kokken69blog

    Hi Alice/Jared, I am reading this in and sending you applause from New York. I have lusted after the gorgeous photos of many entremet in cookbooks and would usually already feel worn out by the many components one needs to prepare. Hence, Jared has my full respect for creating this. Maybe I should also try to attempt once ….at least once….

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I would try it once and never again if you have access to great entremets. It is rewarding when everything comes together though.

    • Anonymous

      btw, thanks again for your help. i’m going to tuck that recipe away for another time. we really appreciate it! -alice

  • http://juniperandsage.typepad.com/smallthings Erin@ small things

    How beautiful! I live in Evanston and have heard of Vanille Patisserie, but have never made it in…now i must! My vote is for you all this round!

    • Anonymous

      Next time you are in Lincoln Park, do stop by and try it. You won’t be disappointed!

  • Anonymous

    Wow you guys really don’t mess around do you?;-P Call me intimidated, especially since we took similar paths (though mine is much more rustic).

    • Anonymous

      That is too funny. We even made sponge cake as the bottom layer as well. Good luck this round.

  • Jackie

    The two of you never cease to astound and amaze me. Honoured to be in this competition with such a pair of incredibly talented and wonderful people! Good luck guys, you are amazeballs.

    Jax x

    • Anonymous

      thank you so much for the kind words, though ours doesn’t seem as magical as yours!! =P -alice

  • Joan Nova

    Really fierce competition in this challenge. The few I’ve seen so far are pretty spectacular and this ranks right up there with them. Beautiful job!

  • Jia

    This cake has the look and composition of an amazing pastry. I can not praise you guys enough for a job well done. I love the delicate flavor of pumpkin; add that to vanilla and mascarpone… I think it is a MASTERPICE of flavor. I wish I can get a slice of this! I can’t wait to vote. You guys really are amazing!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, though I am not sure if I will ever make this again for you guys to try.

  • tater

    OMG. that looks freaking amazing. jared, you are ridiculous. that cake is oozing with creativity. and the photography is phenomenal. my favorite images are the action shots of the glazing process. and that shot of chef is frame worthy. i hope people checking this blog out can appreciate the different layers of art (like the cake!) at play here. from the historical narrative of pastry to cinematic influences to photography to design and composition to cooking and relating it all back on life.. this blog shows how creativity can be holistic. i’m not sure what more one could ask for in a ‘food blog.’

    • Anonymous

      taters. gonna. tate

    • Anonymous

      tater, youz my favorite.

  • http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    Absolutely gorgeous. In awe!

  • Amelia from Z Tasty Life

    oh my!!! Alice and Jared: you’ve done it again! stunning, poetic, terribly well photographed, incredibly creative, and I am sure delicious. Start practicing restaurant reviews!!!

  • Ashley

    Ummm, can I begin with a “holy craaap!” Congrats on making it to round 8. I am so so so excited that you guys are still in it. I really don’t even know what to say about this dessert. The colors + layers are outstanding. Your description left me salivating. I love the photo + text combo that you used in the middle of the post and obviously love all of the photos. You have left me utterly amazed!

  • http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com Winnie

    I just love how you tackled this challenge head on- created something spectacular and documented each aspect so beautifully. LOVE it. I am so over pumpkin for the season but somehow I still desperately want some of your cake…now.

  • http://theveggie.wordpress.com Veggietestkitchen

    This is awesome. Thanks for bringing us this how-to that we’d probably never get otherwise, at least not as thoroughly laid out. I can’t wait to try to make this once in my life =) …and to vote you into the next round. You guys are not letting us down. I can’t wait to see what you put out next!!

  • amy (melanie’s roommie)

    to all your readers out there, vote for this because i can finally say i’ve actually tasted this and it’s AMAZINGGGG <3

    gosh, i was so starstruck this weekend :)

    • Anonymous

      it was nice meeting you this weekend, i hope you will still check our blog after our meeting. =) we can meet up again next time you are in town.

  • amy (melanie’s roommie)

    o and we did make it to vanille and it was DELICIOUS. i brought some macaroons home :)

  • http://messycook.blogspot.com Isabelle

    Oh my… talk about a labour of love! This is definitely one of the more inspired entries I’ve seen so far for this challenge, not to mention one of the prettiest.
    Great job. You’ve got my vote!

  • Sandra

    Wow..what a treat! Wonderful photos, presentation, and it just look so delicious!

  • http://chiknpastry.com heather @ chiknpastry

    YUM! you had me at pumpkin, but the mousse part isn’t bad either. i need to head to lincoln park again, just to go to VP.

    good look you two! (and jared, you’d never know you hate baking by the look of this cake !).

  • Trish

    Looks as delicious as it does beautiful. I love the creativity – would never thought about doing this with pumpkin.

  • Seattlepastrygirl

    I loved your last video post and didn’t think you could out do that one but you did-gorgeous and sounds incredibly delicious -good luck you have my vote. And your results are by no means amateur.

  • Lisa

    Simple beautiful and well done guys! Love it (=

  • hatas gonna hate

    The photos alone deserve to be in a cookbook or magazine. The level of creativity, brain power, and skill involved here just kills me! When you two set your mind to something – you do it for reals. You go all out – all the way. Absolutely beautiful and complex. Voted – for life.

    • Anonymous

      hatas, youz my favorite too ;) -alice

  • Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot

    Looks absolutely gorgeous! Truly a work of art. Maybe even too good to eat! Good luck to you!

  • Cary

    OH MY GOD! this is BEAUTIFUL!

  • Leila @ My Barbarian Table

    superb, stunning, totally took my breath away with this one!

  • http://www.foodwedsherbs.blogspot.com Pcrocker

    beautiful! ya got my vote!

  • Ling kung

    A M A Z I N G. I can’t wait til the Zhaos open a restaurant :) hint hint.

    • Anonymous

      ling, are you backing us financially???

  • Sarah Ly

    Looks great! How come I didn’t see that at Thanksgiving? haha

  • http://twitter.com/riceandwheat angi c

    I’ve never heard of an entremet but I now believe I desperately need one in my life. Do you guys deliver?? Are you sure Jared’s not a pastry chef in a past life? :)

    • Anonymous

      how about if you come to chicago, we’ll take you to Vanille Patisserie :) I actually think the world of pastry is a perfect fit for Jared’s OCD personality, but he also likes to freestyle his savory dishes. either way, i think i win. hahahaha


  • Colin

    Alice, where is my cut??????

    • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    That is a breathtakingly beautiful dessert! Kudos to Jared for all the time he took researching this recipe. Your end product looks amazing.

  • Momgateway

    Such a beautiful creation…so time-consuming but the results are outstanding! Would love to try this!

  • Oui, Chef

    Love the way you stretched for this entry, a lot of work beautifully executed. Bravo! – S

  • http://thesweetspot.com.my Swee San

    Wow, it looks very pretty and good job! voted for PFB! Good luck :)

  • Susan

    I am impressed, but saddened to hear you aren’t going to make me any :( Guess I will actually have to try out one of your recipes! ($0.26)

    • Anonymous

      or you can give me $5 and i can bring you some vanille

  • http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

    So pretty and snazzy!! This looks delicious — GREAT job on your recipe!

  • Anonymous

    Your entries are always beautiful and so refined. I’ve also never heard of entremet, but this post tells me that I need it in my life…

  • http://prettypeasrecipes.blogspot.com/ Heather

    Absolutely stunning–not at all amateur looking.

    I went to the French Pastry School about a month ago for a tour/demo and was very impressed all around. I am looking forward to seeing that documentary! :)

    • Anonymous

      are you thinking of attending? did you get to meet jacquy (the star of the documentary?) i didn’t realize they did tours, maybe we should go for fun!

      - alice

  • http://wildeinthekitchen.blogspot.com Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen

    Way to take on something so challenging, it looks amazing! I love French pastries too, but they are just so much work, thanks for the step by step directions. Great job on the challenge and good luck this round!

  • Diana@Spain in Iowa

    This is absolutely divine. The care and energy you took to create a piece of artwork is beyond words.

  • Margaret @ Savory Sweet Living

    I’m really impressed with how this cake looks especially when it’s made by a non-pastry chef. I love the different texture and layers you used. Bravo!

  • Hot Polka Dot’s Mom

    Amateur? Mais non. Objet d’art? Certainment!

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    I so want to see that movie. I’ve heard so many great things about it. I’ll have to see if I can get it on Netflix. Then, I’ll have to pick up some pastries — rather than popcorn — to enjoy it with. ;)

  • http://www.tastewiththeeyes.com/ Lori Lynn

    Another masterpiece! Good luck, looking forward to your restaurant post!

  • http://www.queenofcuisinepcs.blogspot.com Lisa

    Your sous Chef is as cute as mine when she has whipped cream on her dog nose!! I loved that pic. Also, I linked to your blog from mine because I put information regarding Kings of Pastry on there. Really want to see that film!!! Great post, great blog. I sent you a vote.


  • http://www.weekofmenus.com Joanne_choi

    your photography continues to stun me week after week. You have my vote.

  • http://www.wheelsandlollipops.com/ Wheels and Lollipops

    Stunning photography ! I have to admit that through this challenge I’m definitely learning about all these wonderful recipes for pumpkin.

  • http://www.completelydelicious.com Annalise

    What a beautiful work of art, you have my vote!

  • http://frombatoparis.blogspot.com Frombuenosairestoparis

    Making an entremets is always a challenge…that you seem to have overcome gracefully! Congrats!

  • Stay-At-Home-Chef

    Your photos are stunning…well done! Recipe looks delicious.

  • Susan

    I just bookmarked your blog on my phone. Does that earn me some entremet!? ($0.14)

  • Bunkycooks

    This is a lovely dessert. I certainly understand why you have advanced to the next round. Congrats! :)

  • http://noodlenthread.wordpress.com angie

    this dessert is sooooo pretty! and i bet really tasty! never had them before though.. i’m really missing out. haha

  • Cynthia

    Amazing and temptingly delicious! We need to make another run to Vanille soon!!! Else, I will deliver them to you!

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  • HaveSporkWillTravel

    This is amazing!!!! Wow – I’m sure it’s better than the Vanille cakes for sure! Jared – is there anything you can’t cook?!! Lucky Chef (and Alice!). I’m jealous :) Beautifully presented and skillfully prepared! You’re a genius and a perfectionist.

  • HaveSporkWillTravel

    Only a few more rounds! Congratulations for making it so far! Your photos and your technique have gotten exponentially stronger since the first one!!!

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  • shyanne oh

    love the look of the cake!
    but may I ask for the glaze, does it withstand in room temperature?
    or if I were to refrigerate it, does it sweat/melt upon bringing out from the chiller?
    thank you!