I may be failing slightly in my commitment to Vegan MoFo but it’s all for a worthy cause – conceiving and creating my first birthday cake. I considered attempting one of Fragrant Vanilla Cake’s beautiful creations, or trying my hand at the equally luscious raw cakes by the Nouveau Raw. Yet somehow I knew I would not be satisfied by just following someone else’s recipe; it had to be an expression of my creativity, and of course, feature my favorite ingredients. Hours of brainstorming and kicthen labour later, this baby was born: Lemon & Rum Durian Mousse with Dark Chocolate Sherbet Surprise.
In the making of this cake, I unearthed some unexpected discoveries and acquired new kitchen knowledge. Like where to find the cheapest nuts (Albert Centre Food Market, Level 3; sold in bulk) and cheap durian (a makeshift stall opposite Bugis Market). Threateningly huge Mao Shan Wang (Cat Mountain King) durians sold at $15 per durian – can you beat that?! To put that in perspective, two durians yielded three large boxes, all for $30, and all of premium quality – small seeds with undulating layers of potent creamy rich non-fibrous bittersweet deep yellow flesh. In terms of culinary skills, it was the first for many firsts – making coconut whipped cream, homemade ice cream/sherbet, using xanthan gum and chocolate art. All in all, making this cake was a pretty insightful experience.
Oh yes, and a spanking new Bosch food processor as a birthday gift from Mum! Although KitchenAid is by far the most popular in the (American) market, it is unfortunately not sold in Singapore and I was put off by the hassle of shipping it. Nevertheless, this multi-function Bosch food processor packs quite a mean punch too – it comes with multiple attachments including the S blade, cutting disc, shredding disc, slicer, grater and dough hook, as well as juicer and blender. In fact I’m not sure if I’m ever going to utilise all its functions! So far it works like a silent workhorse and I’m more than pleased!
So back to the cake. This completely vegan, almost raw frozen cake is full blown TREAT. YO. SELF. birthday territory. The ingredients are decidedly luxe with durian (a whooping 800g), copius coconut milk, dark bittersweet Valrhona, and lots of nuts. It’ll take a bit of time, with multiple washing of the processor after making each layer, manual stirring the sherbet every so often (no ice cream machine), messy drippy chocolate and more washing of various kitchen equipment. But it’s my birthday and an excuse to create my ultimate birthday cake and have fun in the kitchen!
I understand that durian is not a readily accessible fruit, but at least you can learn some chocolate art, the resource and links which I have put up below. Believe me, waking up at 6AM to pipe chocolate on templates is very therapeutic.
I’m a pretty visual person, so I like to plan recipes visually. The crust is a basic nut/date crust but with cacao added in. The durian mousse is separated into two contrasting flavours: a lower boozy rum/vanilla layer and an upper zesty lemon layer. Sandwiched in between the two creamy durian layers is an icy bittersweet dark chocolate sherbet “surprise”. Indeed, there is a lot going on here but the play of flavours and textures all works out beautifully. The subtle hint of tartness of the lemon durian mousse provided just enough to cut through richness, while the creamy-icy-creamy-nutty mouthfeel was simply delightful. As for the cake decoration, I got my inspiration from the breathtaking delicate chocolate art from 100daysofevelyn, or more specifically her chocolate cage cake. However as a beginner I went for a simpler design of flower ornaments.
I had so much fun making [and eating] this no-holds-barred dream durian birthday cake. The texture of the mousse layer could certainly be improved (it was a bit icy rather than moussy); otherwise just treat it as a giant ice cream cake!