I was fortunate enough to have won the opportunity to buy the chocolate mousse cake pictured above. Yes, won the opportunity to buy the cake. If you don’t already know, you’ll see what I mean when you read on.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the chocolate mousse cake. It was initially introduced as a challenge on Masterchef Australia presented by the now infamous Adriano Zumbo. Then there was the charity auction, whereby you had the chance to bid for a slice of the action, costing up to $125 for a single slice (1/8 of the cake). Between the screening of the Masterchef episode and the auction, a lot of demand was generated for the chocolate mousse cake. This lead to the lottery, which would draw 100 lucky winners from a pool of over 4000 entrants, who would win the chance to purchase the cake at the value of $90, of which 5% would go to the Childrens Hospital, Westmead.
While all that was happening, you had bloggers attempting to replicate the mousse cake by recipe, with varying degrees of success (personal favourite was by Linda from eatshowandtell). Celebrities, such as Kate Ritchie, were also getting a slice of the action as well.
As I said, a lot of hype.
Having been fortunate enough to have been drawn as one of the winners one question I was sure to be asked, and I was asking of myself was whether the cake lived up to the hype, whether it was worth the $90 and how did it actually taste?
I’d picked up the cake, as instructed by email, one Saturday afternoon directly from the Zumbo kitchen. I was handed an individually signed and numbered box (my number was 6), had my name marked off a winners list and I was on my way.
Well, almost on my way.
As precious as the cargo was, and knowing how I drive (I’m Asian, if that helps paint a picture), I’d taken to shooting photos of the cake box and cake before I’d gotten into my car. You know, as an insurance policy in case it never back in one piece.
I must have looked like a right fool, taking photos of a cake on the boot of my car in the middle of an industrial car park. More so when a motorist pulled over to ask for directions. He too had won the opportunity to purchase the infamous mousse cake and was looking for directions to the factory kitchen to pick up his own prize.
What are the odds, huh? :)
You’re right, this is not cake. What you do see before you is the modest dinner that I’d whipped up for the occasion.
Well, the way I see it, there’s a little more to winning a lottery to have the opportunity to buy a $90 cake than, well, a $90 cake. Sharing is caring, so I’d invited a small group of friends interested in seeing what all the fuss was about with this Masterchef cake that they’d heard about.
The meal consisted of some pide bread from the Bucket Cake Shop (67 Rawson St, Auburn; awesome, freshly baked pide!), fatoush salad and hidden away behind the salad was some homemade hommus.
Yes, you read right. Potato.
I know. Potato on a stick seems somewhat odd. However, I had a bunch of spare bamboo skewers which I’d pre-soaked, which I didn’t want to go to waste.
The lamb was seasoned simply with salt, pepper and lemon juice. The chicken consisted of a spice rub of mild paprika, onion powder and oregano and then dusted with flour for extra crunchiness. Everything tasted reasonably nice but the simple flavours of the lamb won me over. Hidden away behind the platter was a tub of creme fraiche with chives and lemon juice, which was a classic pairing for the roasted potatoes.
The video of the chocolate mousse cake in action. Thanks to V for being the lovely knife model.
She was quite nervous about the whole thing. You see, there was the hype. Then, there was my little spin, which consisted of a verbal summary of the hype to date, as well as a screening of the relevant Masterchef episode when the mousse cake was first brought to our attention. Then I’d gotten her to cut the cake, knowing full well that this would be put up the video on the Internet.
Really, no pressure at all…
She did quite well and I’m quite please with how she handled the whole situation. I believe it was her first encounter with a food blogger, so it was probably somewhat of experience for her.
V’s wonderful work aside though, this video doesn’t really do this cake justice.
You see, the cake is made up of layers. However, the layers of (starting from the bottom) cinnamon sable, blackberry chocolate mousse, jaconde, two textured apples, mousse, jaconde, salted caramel, a final dose of blackberry chocolate mousse and then the chocolate spray, as shown in the above image, are not the layers I’m referring to.
When you open up the cake box for the first time, you’re hit with its visual presence. The texture of the chocolate spray, the decorative elements including the wonderful sheen on the brushed white chocolate curls, which I’ve heard from a reliable source was something that was worked on a couple of years in prep for the 2003 Pastry World Cup.
Then you’re hit with the aroma. Oh the aroma! That wonderfully sexy perfume of chocolate; a sirens call to the olfactory senses that compels you to not just savour, but to devour.
The next layer is that of textures. The smooth blackberry chocolate mousse. The momentary texture of the outer layer of chocolate spray which melts away into nothingness in a heart beat. The salted butter caramel that has the tendency to draw itself out into long, gooey strands. The texture of apples and the soft, sponge-like jaconde biscuit layers. The firm but yielding cinnamon sable biscuit base.
Finally, the layer of taste. The chocolate mousse is phenomenal! Absolutely phenomenal! It’s the second best mousse I’ve ever had. Blackberry chocolate mousse is superbly rich with notes of bitterness due to the coat of chocolate spray, which acts to temper the richness of the mousse somewhat. The salted butter caramel has a wonderfully buttery caramel flavour that was also a hit for me. The rest of the cake for me were the filler acts; nothing that was particularly interesting on their own, though overall a necessary component of the show. The apple layers were required to not only offer a contrast in texture but also to act as a foil to the sheer richness of the blackberry chocolate mousse. On their own however, they felt somewhat lacking. Like there should have been more to them but weren’t able to quite deliver. The biscuit base has a nice hit of cinnamon without being overbearing.
So, onto the million dollar question. Well, $90 lottery questions.
Does the cake live up to the hype? For the most part, yes in my opinion. There are elements that could have been better overall but there’s a lot of good things that this cake delivers on that makes it so worth the while. Though I’m by no means the first to have either tried the cake or to blog about how it was, I feel fortunately all the same for the experience, even if I had to be lucky enough to be drawn as a winner to then to only have the privilege to pay for it.
Was it worth the $90? Yes. If I had my way again but with the knowledge of how the cake tasted, I would still do it. However, the reason for my answer has everything to do with the experiences surrounding the cake and not the cake itself.
Would I buy it again if it were available? Unlikely. This might seem like an odd thing to say considering what had just come before. However $90 for a cake for me is quite a steep price to pay. As a first experience, sure. As an ongoing one, I don’t see enough value in it to warrant the cost. Now, bear in mind that this has nothing to do with how the cake is presented or how it tastes. However, it has everything to do with the amount of disposable income I have at hand to spend on such luxuries.
If, on the other hand, I was offered a tart or a smaller cake which consisted of just the blackberry chocolate mousse, the chocolate spray coating and the butter caramel, I’d snap them up as often as I could reasonably afford to.
There you have it. The cake. The hype. The verdict. I’d love to hear about what you thought of the cake and all the hype surrounding it. Do you think that it lives up to the hype and do you think it’s worth the asking price?