the appetizer:

Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum, includes recipes like Le Succès; Double Chocolate Valentine; and The Bostini (Boston Cream Pie).


Le Succès

Serves: 12

Le Succès

Baking Time: 15 to 20 minutes

When I was translating La Passion du Chocolat I asked "Papa" (Maurice) Bernachon which was his favorite dessert. I suspect he said he loved this recipe because his mother made it for him when he was a child and he enjoyed its simplicity, along with the perfect marriage of almonds and dark chocolate and the beauty of its clean and elegant lines. The Bernachon tea ganache provides a sharp floral background flavor against the dark chocolate. This ganache is thicker than usual, using a little more chocolate than cream; it blends better with the texture of the thin layers of the succès (souk-SAY), making it seem almost like a candy. You can substitute Raspberry Ganache (page 191 of the book), and in berry season you can top it with fresh raspberries instead of cocoa.

Plan Ahead
Make and compose the cake 1 day ahead. Make the ganache several hours before using.


  Volume Weight  
sliced almonds, blanched 2 cups 3 ounces 180 grams
superfine sugar 3/4 cup plus 2-1/2 tablespoons, divided 3 ounces 180 grams
7 large egg whites at room temperature 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 fluid ounces) 7.5 ounces 210 grams
cream of tartar 1 teaspoon    

Special Equipment
Two 17-inch or larger flat baking sheets or inverted 17-1/4 by 12-1/4 by 1-inch half-sheet pans, buttered and floured or lined with parchment coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray or baking spray with flour, or lined with a nonstick baking mat such as Silpat. | Pastry bag fitted with a large plain 1/2-inch pastry tube or a resealable plastic bag with one corner cut off in a curve to make a round opening for the pastry tube.

Mark the Circles
You will need to mark the pans with three 8-inch circles. One of the pans will hold two circles, the other will hold one. If using parchment, use a pencil or pen and the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan to trace the circles. Turn the side with the markings over to face the pan. Attach it to the pan with a little shortening or a light spritz of nonstick cooking spray. If using a nonstick baking mat, mark the 8-inch circles by placing some flour or unsweetened cocoa powder on a plate and lightly dipping the rim of an 8-inch round cake pan or cake ring into it. Firmly tap the cake pan down on the mat to mark the circles and lift it straight up.

Preheat the Oven
Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C.

Grind the Almonds
In a food processor, process the almonds and 3/4 cup of the sugar until very finely ground.

Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 2-1/2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. (If the whites are not very stiff, the succès will spread slightly during baking.)

Detach the whisk beater and remove the bowl from the stand. Using the whisk beater or a large balloon whisk, quickly but gently fold in the grated almond mixture in three parts, deflating the meringue as little as possible.

Pipe the Disks
Fill the pastry bag or resealable plastic bag with meringue and pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheets to form three 8-inch circles, starting at the perimeter and spiraling inward toward the center (see page 265 of the book, piping spirals with batter for ladyfingers—it's the same technique). Because the disks will puff and expand up to 1/2 inch in diameter when baking, take care that you do not pipe them too close to the edge of the pan to avoid spreading over the edge. Use a small offset spatula to fill in any gaps with leftover batter and to smooth the surface. Pipe all three circles, then set aside the pan with only one disk while the first pan bakes. The batter will not spread during this time.

Bake the Succès
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the disks begin to brown. Rotate the pan front to back in the oven halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

Cool the Succès
Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and bake the third disk on the second pan.

Loosen the succès from the sheets by carefully running a thin pie server or a long offset spatula underneath them. They will be quite soft at this point and can tear, so be gentle when loosening them. Make sure that you loosen them in the centers, not just around the edges. Allow them to cool completely on the sheets before transferring them to a work surface or serving plate. They will shrink back to their original size or slightly smaller when cooled. They will be approximately 1/8 inch thick. To obtain a perfect circle, if desired, invert an 8-inch round cake pan over the succès and trim any excess with a sharp knife.


Tea Ganache

Makes: 3-1/4 cups/30.5 ounces/865 grams

Tea Ganache

  Volume Weight  
dark chocolate, 60% to 62%, chopped   1 pound 454 grams
crème fraîche 1-2/3 cups (13.2 fluid ounces) 13.6 ounces 385 grams
heavy cream 1/3 cup (2.6 fluid ounces) 2.7 ounces 77 grams
instant powdered lemon tea 4 teaspoons    
unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder (optional)      

Make the Tea Ganache
In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine.

In a 2-cup or larger microwavable cup with a spout (or in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring often), whisk together the crème fraîche and cream and scald it (heat it to the boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor of the food processor running, pour the cream mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Pulse in the instant powdered tea. Scrape the ganache into a glass bowl and let it sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool for several hours, or until the mixture reaches frosting consistency. The ganache keeps for 3 days at room temperature, for 3 weeks refrigerated, and for 6 months frozen.

Compose the Succès
Spread a little ganache on an 8-inch cardboard round or serving plate and set one disk of succès on top. Carefully spread an even layer of the ganache over the top (a slightly rounded 3/4 cup). Place the second disk flat side up on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Spread on another layer of the ganache (again, be careful to spread it evenly) and place the third disk flat side up on top of that. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another hour. Using a long metal spatula, spread some of the remaining ganache in a thin layer around the sides, filling in any gaps as well. Then spread the remainder evenly on top of the succès.

For a decorative design, run the back of a spoon in a circular pattern around the top surface of the ganache starting at the center. If desired, place the cocoa in a fine-mesh strainer and sprinkle it evenly over the top. Slice with a long serrated knife. The succès will keep wrapped airtight for 5 days refrigerated. Allow it to come to room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.


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This page created February 2010