Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nectarine Mousse Cake (Page 730)

  • Date: Monday, May 1, 2006 - 9:30am
  • Location: Cambridge, MA (MIT!)
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Mike, Tim, Pam, Bridget, Haynes, Mark, Big Mike, Vigleik, John, Charles R, Mike's Parents, Matt, Ricky, etc...
  • Recipe Rating: B-
Mike chose this as the cake he wanted for his post-thesis defense celebration. It wasn't bad, but I wasn't too impressed by it. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of mousse cakes in the first place, but even for a mousse cake I didn't really like it. I think it suffered from two big problems: one, the ratio of mousse to cake was way too high! The instruction to cut the cake in thirds and use one of the thirds for the cake crumbs masking the sides seems like a bad one. I had tons of leftover cake crumbs and couldn't help but wish those pieces of cake hadn't been wasted. If I did it again, I would cut off maybe the top sixth of the cake for the crumbs and then cut the remaining cake in half for the cake layers. Problem number two was that it was so one note: cake soaked with peach syrup, layered between nectarine mousse, and covered with peach glaze. It was too much! I think even having the syrup be made with an alcohol other than peach schnapps would have been enough to make it less overwhelming, but as it was it was just so intensely peachy that I found it unappealing. Another minor complaint: the mousse was a little too gelatinous. That's always a problem though when trying to make a mousse that has enough integrity to be a structural component -- maybe that's why I don't like mousse cakes. On the up side, it was pretty, and the cake soaked with the syrup was nice and moist. I should document my changes: nectarines are out of season, so I made the puree for the mousse with frozen peaches instead, which worked perfectly fine. The decoration on top of the cake was not part of the recipe. I just dyed a little bit of the glaze, and after the glaze on top had set a bit, I used the dyed glaze to decorate. In summary, I wouldn't make this one again, but it was pleasant enough...

I have gotten various comments lately on my recipe grading. Some people seem to think I am way too harsh. Others think I am too nice. Someone today commented that my grading seems to be getting easier. So, I figured now might be a good time to explain my grading criteria. A recipe earns a B+ or above if I would make it again. It earns an A- or above if I would also be willing to serve it to people other than myself. An A recipe is truly exceptional. I haven't given any A+'s yet, but I am open to the possibility of it. The grades B and B- are reserved for things which I wouldn't make again, but which I enjoyed eating. Recipes in the C range and below are things which I didn't particularly want to eat and D and below are things which I actually wouldn't eat.

Now, sometimes I alter my grading for one of two reasons: one, if other people eat with me, and their opinions disagree with mine, I will adjust my grading a bit to take their opinions in to account. Two, if I feel that the recipe came out particularly badly in part because of some error, or adjustment that I made, I will be more lenient in my grading. It's not fair to fault the recipe for my mistakes! Other than that, I try to be pretty consistent with the above guildines!

1 comment:

Mike Hill said...

I loved this cake! I actually preferred the mousse to the cake, so I was fine with the ratios, and I don't think you can ever have too much peachy goodness! I gave this cake an A, not a lousy B-!