Happy Birthday, Leon!

Three layers of flourless pecan cake, two layers of chocolate mousse, a chocolate  frosting, and praline crunch (Marzipan plaque with “Happy 8oth Birthday Daddy!”). This would be great for Passover (scaled back down, of course!).

The cake: Helga’s Cake (adapted from Gesine Bullock Prado’s recipe)

I had to double the recipe for the cake, and I baked it in three half sheet pans:

Put the nuts, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until it is ground to a fine meal:
19 ounces pecans
5 ounces hazelnuts
8 ounces sugar
1 tsp. salt

Add the yolks and whole eggs, plus the vanilla and baking powder to the ground nuts and process until you have a smooth paste:
16 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
2 Tbl. vanilla
4 tsp. baking powder

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add the remaining sugar, whipping until stiff and shiny:
16 egg whites
8 ounces sugar

In another very large bowl, spoon the nut paste. Fold in a portion of the whites (large blob) to lighten the nut mixture a bit and to make it easier to incorporate the rest of the whites. Fold in the rest of the whites (gently!).

Spread the batter evenly in three half sheet pans (mine are about 12×16) lined with greased parchment paper. Spread the batter to an even thickness (the batter does not flow and even itself out, but stays where it is put). Bake it at 325 degrees until the top is springy. (I don’t have in my notes how long that took. The original recipe, for baking half the above amount of batter in three 8″ pan, called for baking for 30-45 minutes.  I think maybe I checked at 15-20 minutes. Maybe it took 25 minutes?)
The Mousse (adapted from a method by Francois Payard):
14 ounces truffle chocolate (Rosemarie hazelnut)
3 pints pareve whip

Melt together the chocolate and 1 pint of cream. Cool completely. Whip the remaining cream and fold together the ganache and the whipped cream to make the mousse filling.

The Frosting (kind of inspired by Julia Child’s Riene de Saba cake glaze and kind of inspired by the original Helga’s Cake frosting):
12 ounces chocolate, finely chopped
20 ounces margarine
3 ounces coffee

Put chopped chocolate in blender with a stick of margarine and the hot coffee. Blend until smooth, adding margarine.

praline:
10 ounces, mixed pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts
16 ounces sugar
caramelize the sugar, stir in the nuts, spread on a greased sheet, let cool and break up.

Marzipan plaque: roll out 2-4 ounces of marzipan into a rectangle, mark with design, and pipe on lettering using excess chocolate frosting.

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