In the month of December, I’ve wanted to try putting together an alternative Christmas Menu that calls upon traditional flavours, but with a modern twist. For dessert, I wanted something a bit lighter than the normal Christmas pudding. I’d been thinking along the lines of a plum Panna Cotta or something like that, until Jay (who needs to tweet more) declared “it’s gotta be something to do with Ferrero Rocher!”
Ferrero Rocher has undoubtedly become one of the UKs newest Christmas traditions in the last two or three decades (how long does it take for something to be considered a tradition?), and one that my household certainly embraced. Since I was a little boy, I always received these amazing little sweets at Christmas time. I can remember only one Christmas without them, which brought tears, great heartache, and much questioning over Santa’s existence. It never happened again after that, as let’s face it… nobody wants to see a man in his thirties reduced to tears on Christmas Day.
I can’t take any credit for creating this recipe… I found it on the interwebs, and felt compelled to try it as it was… this is a straight take on that recipe.
Now the original recipe calls this a mousse, but I don’t think my technique was great; I’ve never made a mousse and seem to have battered all the air out of it. It’s somewhat more dense, and has the consistency of a cheesecake without the cheese. That said, it’s still light, but don’t let that fool you! There’s so much chocolate and cream in here that it’s incredibly decadent. It’s so rich that you probably won’t need (or want) a large serving of it, but on the taste and luxury front, it’s a perfect way to round off your Christmas Dinner!
For the Cake:
220g dark chocolate digestives
75g melted butter
3tsp gelatine powder
600ml extra thick double cream
300g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
16 (yes 16!) Ferrero Rocher
For the ganache:
150g dark chocolate
120ml extra thick double cream
This should make enough for 10-12 small portions! Even with my ridiculous appetite, small is good! (Especially after a full Christmas Dinner!)
1. Butter the sides and base of a springform cake tin. Mine was 20cm. About 20 or 19cm is good for a bit of height.
2. Start with the base. Blitz the digestives in a food processor/blender until there’s nothing left but fine crumbs.
3. Pour in the melted butter, and give it another whirl until it comes together as a soft mixture,
4. Press the mixture into the base of the tin, making sure you get right to the edges. I started with the back of a spoon, then finished off with my fingers. Don’t do what I did – make sure your base is the right way round, or it will be difficult to get your cake out with biscuit base attached!
5. Stick it in the fridge for half an hour.
6. While the base is chillin’ like a villain, melt the dark and milk chocolate together in a bowl suspended over some hot water. When it’s completely melted and glossy, put it aside to cool to room temperature.
7. While it’s cooling, heat 60ml of the cream to almost boiling.
8. Also, add 2tbsp of water to the gelatine powder – leave it to gel for the last 3-4 minutes of the cream heating.
9. When both are done, quickly mix the gelatine into the cream, and stir til dissolved completely. Then leave to cool to room temperature.
10. While all this cooling is going on, quickly smash up 10 of the Ferrero Rocher in a plastic bag – it’s best if they’re cool, so the gooey filling kind of holds together rather than just making a sticky mess. Although it’s good to get some chunky bits of hazelnut, try to make sure the case type bit that normally holds the inside bits inside is well crushed – if you leave bits of this too big, they’ll go soggy and unpleasant.
11. Also use this time to whisk the rest of the cream into stiff peaks. I used a stand mixer.
12. Quickly add in the chocolate, and the gelatine/cream mixture, and run the mixer for another 1 or 2 seconds – I think this is where I went wrong, and ran mine too fast for too long. You’re only looking for it all to be about 1/2 combined at this point.
13. Using a spatula, gently fold in the crushed Ferrero Rocher, and bring it all together. If you’re aiming for mousse, don’t overwork it – if you’re happy with the cheesecake consistency (which delighted me) then knock yourself out!
14. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, making sure you get right into the sides. Level out with the back of a spoon, cover, and leave in the fridge to set. This should take about four hours!
15. Just before you’re ready to serve, make the ganache. Heat the cream to boiling point, and pour over the chocolate. Stir continuously until all the chocolate is melted, and the cream is incorporated. Let it cool completely, and whisk to a stiff consistency.
16. Dust the cake with some cocoa powder (I also used a “holly” stencil and some icing sugar, but it didn’t really come out properly). Pipe some ganache swirls on top, and set a Ferrero Rocher on each. The recipe calls for six, but I only used four.
17. Get stuck in!
Well the star of this show is the Ferrero Rocher, so maybe it’s no surprise that today’s results match the prices the big four are respectively charging for them.
Tesco win this week, with a very competitive £12.48. It was the price of their chocolate and the Ferrero Rocher itself which made the difference. Asda followed at £13.57 with Morrisons and Sainsbury’s some way off at £17.26 and £17.45.
Don’t like Fererro Rocher? You’re mental! There are some great tweaks you could make here without losing festive charm though! What about replacing the milk chocolate with Terry’s Chocolate Orange, leave out the FR altogether, and top with segments of Chocolate Orange? Would Chocolate Orange spread instead of ganache be too much?
You could do something similar with mint flavouring, to make an After Eight Version – I wouldn’t crush any inside, as I don’t know what would happen with the fondant, but it could work. They’d look pretty on top, in any event.
Baileys could also be an option!
It’s probably acceptable to use crushed hazelnuts on their own inside the mixture, rather than go to the expense of actual Ferrero Rocher. You could also potentially add some Nutella in the mix to boost the flavour – this approach would get rid of the potential for soggy bits that I mentioned above.
I’d like to try making mousse again, and see how a lighter, airier version would work out, but I was still over the moon with this accidental cheese-cake like tweak. Give it a go, and share your experiences (and pictures) on Facebook and twitter!