Dining In 4 minutes 10 May 2018

Recipe: The “After Eight” Dessert

This treat served at The Clocktower in NYC is a modern take on the mint chocolate U.K. favorite.

chocolate dessert recipe

Everyone loves a dish that can transport them back to a particular date or time, evoking fond (or sometimes, not so fond) memories of yore.

At The Clocktower in New York City’s Flatiron District, executive pastry chef Brian Yurko creates those feelings through his confections. Sounds of the neighborhood ice cream truck and thoughts of sunshine and a summer breeze could be felt when tasting all the elements together in his “Creamsicle,” a dessert offered on last winter’s Restaurant Week menu.

The “After Eight,” a modern take on the wildly popular wafer-thin mint chocolates, is a star on the dessert menu, featuring a crunchy-meets-silky chocolate mousse that’s paired with devil’s food cake, chocolate crumbs and a mint ice cream. Like its creamsicle brethren, the tasty after-dinner mint comes to mind when eating all of the components together. (Though, we can assure you that eating the components separately is both equally delicious and certainly acceptable.)

Here’s how to make it.

The "After Eight"

Recipe Courtesy of Executive Pastry Chef Brian Yurko, The Clocktower, New York City

Yield: 16 Servings

For the Crunchy Chocolate Mousse:

125 grams milk chocolate, 40%
50 grams dark chocolate, 70%
24 grams pâte cacao, 100%
67 grams whole egg yolks
60 grams granulated sugar
15 grams water
310 grams cream, whipped
150 grams dark chocolate pearls

1. Combine the milk and dark chocolates and pâte cacao in a bowl; microwave until melted; reserve somewhere warm.

2. In a stand mixer, whip the yolks until light in color and ribbon-y. Meanwhile, place the sugar and water in a small saucepot over high heat and bring to a boil; cook to softball stage (245˚F or 118˚C).

3. With stand mixer still running, very carefully stream the sugar into the yolks; keep whipping until fluffy but still warm.

4. In a large mixing bowl, quickly fold the whipped yolks with a quarter of the cream into the chocolate, being careful to keep the chocolate from seizing. Fold in remaining cream until the mousse is streaky. Fold in the dark chocolate pearls to finish the mousse. Reserve in the refrigerator.

For the Mint Marshmallows:

5 gelatin sheets
Nonstick cooking spray
20 grams mint leaves, picked, blanched and shocked, with excess water removed
114 grams egg whites
228 grams granulated sugar
2 grams mint extract

1. Soak the gelatin sheets in an ice bath for until soft, about 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and reserve in a cool place.

2. Prepare a quarter sheet tray with nonstick cooking spray and parchment paper; reserve.

3. Combine the mint, egg whites, sugar and mint extract in a blender; blend on high until mint is broken down and the mixture is green in color. Transfer to a bowl and place over a saucepot filled with an inch of water (a bain-marie); warm to 140˚F; add the gelatin.

4. Once gelatin is melted, pass the mixture through a fine chinoise (making sure to press out as much liquid from the mint as possible) and add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on high until fluffy, just before it starts to ribbon. Pour into prepared quarter sheet tray and refrigerate until set.

5. Using ring cutters, punch out quarter-sized discs and reserve.

For the Devil’s Food Cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
95 grams all-purpose flour
0.5 grams baking powder
2 grams baking soda
28 grams cocoa powder
1 whole egg
116 grams granulated sugar
80 grams mayonnaise
95 grams water

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

2. Prepare a quarter sheet tray with nonstick cooking spray and parchment paper; reserve.

3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder together; reserve.

4. Place the egg and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; whip until pale and ribbon-y; add the mayonnaise and whip until well combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until batter comes together. Add the water and mix to combine.

5. Using a rubber spatula, pour the batter into the prepared tray. Bake in the oven for until fully cooked, 12 to 16 minutes. (The cake should pull away from the edges of the plan slightly.) Let cool at room temperature.

6. Using ring cutters, punch out quarter-sized discs and reserve.

For the Mint Chocolate Spray:
250 grams cocoa butter
250 grams dark chocolate, 70%
6 grams mint extract

In a bain-marie, melt the cocoa butter and chocolate; add the mint extract and emulsify with an immersion blender. Keep warm.

For the "After Eight" Stones:

1. Using a pastry bag, divide the Mousse between 16 molds. Push in one of the discs of Mint Marshmallow followed by a disc of the Devil’s Food Cake. The cake should be flush with the top of the molds. Scrape off any excess mousse and freeze overnight.

2. Unmold the next day and reserve the stones in the freezer until you are ready to spray with the Mint Chocolate Spray.

3. Place the unmolded stones on an inverted sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

4. Strain the spray through a fine chinoise and pour into the reservoir of a chocolate sprayer or paint gun.

5. Quickly spray the stones until they take on a velvet appearance. Return the stones to the freezer to store them or place them in the refrigerator to thaw for plating.

For the Chocolate Sponge Cake:
80 grams whole milk
160 grams egg whites
60 grams blended oil
2 grams salt
120 grams granulated sugar
50 grams all-purpose flour
40 grams cocoa powder
8-ounce paper cups, as needed

1. Combine the milk, egg whites, oil, salt and sugar in a blender and blend on high until smooth; carefully add in the flour and cocoa powder and blend until well combined. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Pour the cake batter into a whipped cream (siphon) gun; charge with two whipped cream chargers, shaking the canister between each charge.

3. Using a knife, make a slit in the bottom of the paper cups; fill cups one third of the way full with cake batter from the siphon gun. Microwave each for 30 seconds.

4. Immediately invert the cups as they come out of the microwave so they don’t collapse; leave to cool at room temperature.

For the Chocolate Crumb:
120 grams all-purpose flour
30 grams cocoa powder
100 grams unsalted butter
60 grams granulated sugar
40 grams brown sugar
1 gram salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together; reserve.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and salt together. Carefully add the flour mixture, mixing well until a dough forms. Break up the dough onto a sheet tray lined with a silicone baking mat. Bake the dough, breaking it up with a spatula every 5 to 10 minutes until fully cooked; let cool to room temperature.

4. Grind in a food processor to a sandy consistency; reserve.

For the Branca Menta Ice Cream:
450 grams whole milk
150 grams cream
400 grams condensed milk
3 grams salt
60 grams Fernet Branca Menta

Combine the milk, cream, condensed milk and salt in a saucepot and bring to medium heat, continually stirring so the condensed milk doesn’t burn. Transfer pot to an ice bath and chill; add the Branca Menta and pass through a fine chinoise. Freeze until needed.

For the Mint Oil:
150 grams mint leaves, picked, stems discarded
100 grams spinach
300 grams canola oil

1. Blanch the mint and spinach leaves in a pot of salted water for 2 to 3 minutes; shock in an ice bath and squeeze out any excess liquid.

2. Place the greens and canola oil in a blender and blend on high until steaming; pass through a strainer lined with a coffee filter into a clean container over ice. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and reserve in the refrigerator.

For the Chocolate Sauce:
140 grams cream
70 grams whole milk
35 grams glucose
200 grams dark chocolate, 70%

Combine the cream, milk and glucose in a pot and bring to a boil; pour over the dark chocolate and emulsify with an immersion blender. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and keep warm.

For Assembly:
Mint leaves, preferably chocolate mint, for garnish

1. Using a cake wheel, or by hand, pipe rings of chocolate sauce towards the outer rim of a plain, round plate. Drizzle some of the mint oil along the rings. Place one of the finished "After Eight" stones on the left side of the plate. Tear off 3 pieces of chocolate sponge cake, and place 1 below and 2 above the mousse.

2. Using a spoon, place some of the chocolate crumb cake around the mousse and sponge cake; gently place a quenelle of Branca Menta ice cream onto crumbs next to mousse. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of @andrewhektor.

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