Earl Grey Surprise

It looks deceptively like cheesecake but it’s not!

Surprise, wide-eyed wonder and best of all daggy open-mouth looks were all the reactions I expected when I unleashed this dessert upon my unsuspecting cousins; great entertainment for me! And how could it not be when popping candy’s featured as the hidden surprise! Revisiting Heston Blumenthal’s Popping Candy Cake recipe but leaving out the chocolate mousse and glaze components, I topped that lovely base of toasted hazelnuts, melted chocolate and the featured ‘pop rocks’ with a titillating French Earl Grey tea infused bavarois and an intense orange marmalade gel layer to cut back, NO! more like complement some of that floral creamy goodness. And the rest, as they say is history! This is a no holds barred dessert enjoyment extravaganza.

There was no doubt in my mind that the french earl grey tea infusion would work but what to top it with besides chocolate got me thinking; I wanted something to offset all that cold set cream. And since classic earl grey is composed of citrusy bergamot orange and I spied a jar of home-made marmalade in the fridge, I decided to go with the citrus theme and turn the marmalade into a gel layer. Orange juice just wouldn’t cut it as it doesn’t have the same intensity of juice, skin and pith reduction (not sure if reconstituted orange juice would work..seems like a possible shortcut) but the combination worked and it got my pulse afluttering. I made a batch of orange marmalade several months back as inspired by A Table For Two‘s Mandarin Marmalade recipe but if boiling and simmering jam isn’t your cup of tea, you could just get a jar of good quality marmalade from your supermarket, grocer or farmers market. As my jam was pretty thick and set, I thinned down and simmered it with lemon and orange juice (for more zing!) which is then set with gelatine leaves.

Boing Boing Boing!!! 🙂 I’m definitely making this again and would probably include a macaron or dacquiose layer next time!! Wooohoooo!

  Cross section of the cake

Earl Grey Bavarois and Popping Candy Surprise
(You will need an 8 inch cake ring)

Popping Candy Base
(adapted from Heston Bluementhal’s Popping Candy Cake recipe – the following amounts have been doubled from the original recipe to fit an 8-inch cake ring)

170 g whole hazelnuts
  80 g milk chocolate (I used good quality 70 % dark chocolate)
     4 tsp mixed spice (I used ginger spice)
200 g popping candy (from any local sweet shop or food ingredient shop)

Earl Grey Bavarois 
300 ml   full cream milk
  2 tbsp   French Earl Grey loose-leaf tea
       3        egg yolks
      45 g   caster sugar (for the milk)
      45 g   caster sugar (for the egg yolks)
       4        gelatine leaves, gold strength
300 ml   thickened cream (35% fat)

Marmalade Gel

130 g orange marmalade (130 g net after passing marmalade through a sieve to get a fine puree)
10 ml fresh lemon juice
60 ml fresh orange juice ( 1 small orange)
2 1/2 gelatine leaves, gold strength
(Note: In total, the strained marmalade + juice = 200 ml) 

  1. Place an 8 inch ring mould on a serving plate and line the sides evenly with acetate sheets.
  2. To make the base, preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas Mark 4 and roast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Blend to a paste in a food processor, then set aside. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a basin/bowl sitting atop a saucepan/pot of simmering water – take care that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water; Stir the mixed-spice and popping candy into the melted chocolate. Next, fold in the hazelnut paste. Gently press in the base mixture to a depth of about 1cm (Make sure it is compact and flush against the sides of the lined tin). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until hard.
  3. To make the bavarois, bring the milk,  45 g sugar and tea leaves to just boiling; turn off heat and let stand (to infuse) for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, using a balloon whisk, blend the egg yolks and 45 g remaining sugar thoroughly in a bowl.
  5. Soften gelatine leaves in cold water
  6. Bring the infused milk to just boiling then immediately pour onto egg yolk mixture; Blend well. Strain the mixture back into the pot (make sure there are no loose tea leaves) and heat gently; all the while stirring continuously until the mixture is cooked and coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 82oC). Immediately take the pot off the heat (you don’t want to overcook the custard – it will split); Squeeze out excess water from the softened gelatine leaves and stir this through the custard to melt. Cool custard to room temperature.
  7. Whip the cream to soft whip point (soft peaks)
  8. When the custard mixture has cooled, fold through the softly whipped cream; pour onto the hardened popping candy base and chill in the refrigerator until set.
  9. To make the marmalade gel, combine the strained marmalade, lemon and orange juice in a saucepan. Bring to the boil; stirring until smooth.
  10. Soften the gelatine leaves in cold water; squeeze out excess liquid and stir through the hot marmalade liquid  to melt ; pour this on top of the set bavarois and chill in refrigerator until set.
  11. You can leave it plain or pipe on some decorative patterns using melted chocolate.
  12. To serve, remove the cake ring and gently peel away the acetate sheets; Use a hot knife to slice the cake (dip the knife in hot water then wipe off excess liquid with paper towel before cutting each slice)
  13. Enjoy with mouth wide-opened for maximum popping volume! 😆


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