Outdoor Dining for My Brother's Birthday Dinner

Mini yuzu chocolate (Valrhona Caramelia Milk Chocolate & Le Noir Dark 61%) cake
The birthday cake

The past weekend, I celebrated my brother’s birthday with our family by cooking and baking a storm for him. The one of the highlights of this meal was the birthday cake you see above, a dark chocolate yuzu Valrhona Caramelia mousse cake. Sounds awesome, right? A thin dark chocolate cake base (chocolate biscuit; not the buttery, flaky Southern biscuits you’re thinking of), lightened and sweetened by the Caramelia chocolate chantilly, contrasted with the bracingly tart yuzu cream. If you have some basic baking techniques down and have some time, you can make this cake. I’ll give you the recipe toward the end of this post.

As for the rest of this meal, please keep on reading after the jump.

Dinner is almost served The flowers and wine
Most of the spread and the table set with a large crystal vase with fresh cut flowers from my garden and chilled wines in my Mauviel Hammered Oval Champagne Bucket

The table was simply yet elegantly decorated with a large crystal vase with fresh-cut flowers from my garden, the tableware, and a bottle of Devaux Champagne Cuvée D and B.R. Cohn 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The former wine was chilled in a beautiful, spacious Mauviel Hammered Aluminum Oval Champagne Bucket (the Cab was briefly chilled since red wines should be served around 65 degrees F.).

Glazed chili honey pork tenderloin My portion of glazed chili honey pork tenderloin
Glazed chili honey pork tenderloin in Mauviel’s stainless steel-copper roasting pan (left) and my portion

I served a 6-pound pork tenderloin that was marinated overnight with a rosemary, lemon thyme (those herbs were from my local Greenmarket) rub, then seared it with sublime spicy-sweet Cloister Honey based in North Carolina, and roasted in a gorgeous, yet heavy duty Mauviel copper and stainless steel roasting pan (measured 15.7 x 11.8 in). Using the best ingredients from marinating to roasting and using an amazing pan, it created one of my best roast pork tenderloins! The Mauviel M’150c copper and stainless steel roasting pan conducted and retains heat well and distributes it evenly that my pork remained incredibly moist without having dry or burnt spots that my less expensive pans would do.

Crustless quiche
Crustless quiche in an Emile Henry apricot baking dish

Since my family loves eating eggs, I ended up baking a crustless quiche in an Emile Henry baking dish. As much as I like quiche with a crisp crust, the best part tends to be the custardy filling speckled with any vegetable or meat I am craving. This particular “quiche” was simply made of eggs, half and half, sour cream, sautéed onions, ham, diced fresh tomatoes (from my garden, with the seed pulp squeezed out), fresh thyme, grated Woolwich goat’s milk mozzarella, salt, pepper and a hefty pinch of Piment d’Espelette. It came out puffed and beautifully golden, and yes, the “quiche” was delicious.

Pan seared scallops on a bed of sauteed mushrooms Baked lobster with cheese
Seafood dishes: Baked lobster with Grand Cru Gruyere and Pan seared scallops

The seafood portion of this dinner was Baked lobsters with Grand Cru Gruyere and pan seared scallops on a bed of sautéed mushrooms. Simple dishes that doesn’t require a lot of time. Only be careful of the lobsters, as you split them in half.

Watermelon juice and gin-based cocktails

As for drinks, it’s seasonally inspired since I had a couple of whole watermelons in my refrigerator and ended up making a watermelon juice-based cocktails. One is a watermelon basil gimlet (equal parts watermelon juice and basil-infused gin (we’re relative lightweight drinkers), a splash of sugar syrup and lime juice; shaken in ice), and watermelon yuzu gimlet. The non-alcoholic drink was straight watermelon juice. All were refreshing, cooling, and on the sweet side, as my family likes their drinks.

We all had a great time celebrating my brother’s birthday, eating the entire evening away, as there were plenty of food to go around for seconds and thirds.

Recipe for the Chocolate Yuzu Cake
Adapted from Cannelle et Vanille

Chocolate Biscuit
Yield: 2 half sheetpans

285 grams egg yolks
240 grams sugar
275 grams egg whites
2 grams cream of tartar
55 grams sugar
95 grams cocoa powder
135 grams flour
95 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Whip the egg yolks and the sugar to a thick ribbon.

2. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until almost fully whipped. Sprinkle in the sugar and whip until a firm peak forms.

3. Lighten the egg yolk base with a fourth of the meringue. Sift the dry ingredients into this base and fold gently. Fold in the remainder of the meringue.

4. Add the melted and cooled butter and fold.

5. Divide the batter between two half sheetpans lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake at 375F for about 10 minutes.

Yuzu Simple Syrup
50 grams water
50 grams sugar
Yuzu juice (optional)

Cook the sugar and water together until sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup cool and then add the yuzu juice, if desired.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

2.5 sheets gelatin
40 grams granulated sugar
10 grams corn syrup
15 grams water
50 grams egg yolks (about 3 medium)
175 grams dark chocolate (I used the Valrhona 61% Le Noir baking bar), coarsely chopped
350 grams heavy cream

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water.

2. Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white). Cook the sugar, corn syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.

3. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.

4. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 30 grams of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.

5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir 100 grams of whipped cream to temper. Add the pate a bombe. Add in the rest of the whipped cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Yuzu Cream

215 grams eggs
75 grams sugar
215 grams yuzu juice
300 grams butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, juice and zest. Place this bowl over a double boiler and cook while whisking until the custard thickens (about 84C).

2. Immediately, strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Let the custard cool to about 55C. It will be warm to the touch but not too hot that when we add the butter, it will melt right away. We want to create an emulsion with the butter that’s why the temperature it’s very important.

3. Once the custard has cooled, start adding the butter and using a hand held immersion mixer or blender, blend the cream. Continue blending until all the butter has been incorporated.

Caramelia Chantilly

260 grams heavy cream
90 grams Valrhona Caramelia, chopped into small pieces

Boil the cream and pour over the Caramelia. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Let this ganache rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then whip it as whipped cream.

Assemble the Cake

1. Turn over one of the chocolate biscuit sheets. Peel off the parchment paper. Flip it over again and place it on a clean sheet of parchment on a sheetpan.

2. Make the chocolate mousse right when you are ready to start building the cake. Place a 14″x14″x3″ square mold on top of the chocolate biscuit. Press down so that the frame cuts all the way to the bottom. Save the scraps for something else. This is where we will build the cake.

3. Soak the cake with the yuzu simple syrup. Spread the chocolate mousse evenly on top of the biscuit. Let this harden in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

4. In the meantime, make the lemon cream. When the chocolate mousse has harden, spread the lemon cream evenly on top of it. Freeze the cake overnight.

5. To remove the mold/cake ring, make sure the cake is frozen so the layers stay intact. Cut around the cake with a knife (close to the edge) and lift the frame up.

6. Cut the cake when it is semi frozen. Pipe the milk chocolate chantilly over the lemon cream and top with a tempered chocolate rectangle or circle (depending upon the shape of your cake). Serve immediately or you may thaw it for 10 minutes (depending how warm the room is).

To see the rest of the photos of this dinner, please scroll through my slideshow below:

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To get more information of the products used in this post:
Mauviel 1830 http://www.mauvielusa.com
Emile Henry http://www.emilehenryusa.com
Valrhona http://www.valrhona.com/us
Cloister Honey http://cloisterhoney.myshopify.com
Emmi Roth http://www.emmirothusa.com


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.

    1. Tina says:

      Tres Delicious Thank you for visiting and for commenting. Yes, it’s a great way to show someone you love by cooking for him/her.

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