1. Let’s start off this recipe by making the very core of the dessert the coffee insert sphere. To make these you will need to use a small half sphere silicone mould. Essentially we are going to make a slightly sweet coffee then set it with agar in the moulds to make a coffee jelly. To begin, in a small saucepan add 100ml of water, 1 tsp white sugar and 2 tbsp of ground Vietnamese coffee. Place onto a high heat and bring up to a boil then when boiling turn down the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute. Next we want to pass the coffee through a fine sieve with a piece of kitchen paper or coffee filter then filter into a fresh saucepan.
2. We now want place the filtered coffee back onto a high heat then add 1g of agar agar. Whisk in the agar then boil the coffee for 1-2 minutes. This will activate the agar and allow the coffee to set. Remove from the heat and pour the coffee into the small half sphere silicone mould. When cool place into the freezer to completely freeze.
Outer Chocolate Shell:
3. For the next stage of the desert we want to make the outer chocolate shell in a large 1/2 sphere silicone mould. To make this we will need to temper the chocolate to give the chocolate a nice gloss and snap. In a small saucepan fill 1/4 of the way with water and place onto a medium heat. Now in a mixing bowl add 120g of dark chocolate and a pinch of salt. Place over the saucepan acting as a ban marie to melt the chocolate. When the chocolate has melted mix well then remove from the heat and we can now temper the melted chocolate by adding raw chocolate in stages. Before we add the chocolate add 1 tbsp of Vietnamese coffee then in 3 or 4 stages gradually add 30g of raw chocolate whilst mixing. What we are looking to do is at each stage of adding the additional chocolate is we want the raw chocolate to combine with the melted. To tell when this process is ready the raw chocolate will find it difficult to melt and at this point our chocolate is tempered.
4. Now that we have our tempered chocolate we want to paint the silicone moulds to create a shell. While the chocolate is still at a more manageable temperature, using a brush paint the chocolate thinly, brush in an upwards motion starting from the centre to fill 8 of the moulds. When all of the moulds are painted place into the fridge for 3-5 minutes to set the chocolate. When set paint again to form another thin layer of chocolate then when ready store in the fridge to completely set the moulds (2-3 hours).
Chocolate Coffee Mousse:
5. To finish the spheres all that’s left is to make the mousse that will bring the spheres together. Start by melting 100g of dark chocolate, a pinch of salt and 2 tbsps of Vietnamese coffee in a ban marie again on a medium to low heat. Whilst we wait on the chocolate to melt we want to make a creme anglais. In a small mixing bowl add 30g of egg yolks and 45g of white sugar then whisk until the egg yolks become light and fluffy. In another separate pan we want to add and heat 25g Condensed milk and 75ml of whole milk. Bring the milk up to a boil then when boiling we want to temper the egg yolks by adding a few drops of the hot milk. Whisk well then add the remaining hot milk to the eggs. Place the egg and milk mixture back into the pan then add 2g of agar agar and cook on a medium to high heat whilst constantly whisking. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the consistency becomes thicker and can coat the back of a spoon. When ready remove the creme anglais from the heat.
6. The next step is to now pass the creme anglais through a fine sieve onto the melted chocolate. Remove the bowl of chocolate and creme anglais from the heat and fold in the creme anglaise until a thick smooth paste is made. When ready place to one side and allow to cool.
7. Whilst we are waiting to cool the chocolate mix, in a large mixing bowl add 250ml of heavy cream and whisk until soft peaks. When the chocolate mix has cooled all that’s left to do to finish the mousse is to gradually fold in the cream to the chocolate. Do this in 3 or 4 stages taking care when folding as we want to try and keep the mousse nice and light. When ready place the mousse into a piping bag and we are now ready to build the spheres.
8. When the chocolate shells are set, the coffee inserts are frozen and the mousse is made we can now construct the spheres. Use a piping bag to pipe into the chocolate shells until they are just about full. Then remove the coffee inserts and place directly into the centre of the piped mousse. Gently push down the coffee insert to allow the mousse to fill out the shell. When ready tidy around the mousse using an offset spatula, then cover the mould in clingfilm and place the sphere into the freezer to completely freeze.
9. When the spheres are completely frozen we now want to remove from the mould and stick them together. Pair two of the half spheres then briefly heat each side in a hot dry pan by placing directly into the pan for a few seconds. Remove from the pan and simply stick the 1/2 spheres together to make a sphere. We can tidy the seal by using an offset spatula and a little melted dark chocolate. When ready place the spheres back into the freezer and we can now move onto making the remaining components of this dessert.
10. Next onto making a few extra elements to highlight the characteristics of Vietnamese coffee. You can leave these out and run with the spheres but I feel these not only add texture to the desert but also balance the dessert. Again we want to make a a simple set coffee jelly that oozes coffee aroma. In a sauce pan add 100ml of water, 2 tbsps of vietnemese coffee and 1 tsp of sugar. Bring to the boil then when boiling turn the heat down to simmer for 2 minutes. Pass the coffee through a fine sieve with a filter then add back to a saucepan. Add 1g of agar agar and again bring the liquid up to a boil. This time boil for 1-2 minutes then remove from the heat. Place the coffee into a small box container and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool place in the fridge to completely set (2-3 hrs).
12. For the last 2 components of this desert we want to incorporate caramelised hazelnuts into them which hit 2 distinct characteristics of Vietnamese coffee. First, simply toast 50g of peeled hazelnuts in a dry pan. Next remove the hazelnuts then in the same dry pan add 60g of sugar. Turn the heat to medium high and begin to turn the sugar into a caramel. This is known as caramel a sec which means without adding any water. Try not to stir the caramel while cooking then when a caramel is formed add the toasted hazelnuts and coat well in caramel. Place the caramelised hazelnuts onto a tray and allow to cool and set.
13. When the hazelnuts have completely cooled we now want to make them more edible by either adding to a blender or by pounding with a pestle and mortar to create ground caramelised hazelnuts. When ready place into a small bowl and we will incorporate this to the last 2 components.
14. This part of the desert is there to mimic the idea of the condensed milk which is usually served with Vietnamese coffee. In a small saucepan add 150ml of milk, 50g of condensed milk, approximately 1/4 of the caramelised hazelnuts and 2 tbsps of agar agar. Mix well then place onto a medium to high heat. Bring up to a boil to infuse then boil for 2 minutes to activate the agar taking care to constantly stir as the milk can burn. Then pass through a fine sieve and allow the mix to cool to room temperature. Place into the fridge to set, then when completely set we want to add to a food processor to pulse until a smooth milk gel is made. (Sorry for the lack of images below on this I simply forgot to snap the rest, my bad!).
15. The final component is the hazlenut soil, again a textured nutty coffee aroma was the plan for this and is super simple to make. In a pan begin by adding 25g of unsalted butter and 30g of dark chocolate then place onto a medium low heat to melt. When melted add 50g of plain flour, 30g of ground almonds (optional), 30g of brown sugar, 2 tbsp of vietnemese coffee and approximately 25g of the caramelised hazelnuts. Mix well whilst still on the heat until all of the ingredients combine together.
16. We now want to finish the soil by adding onto a baking tray lined with parchment and bake in a oven set at 120°c for approximately 15 minutes or until crumbly. When ready place the soil into a container and we are finally ready to plate up this dessert!
17. You can serve the mousse sphere either still slightly frozen to create more of an ice cream or allow the sphere to completely defrost before, it’s completely up to you. When ready begin plating by adding the soil first then top with some of the caramelised hazelnuts if there are some left over. Next place the sphere on top and scatter around some of the coffee cubes, finish with a few dots of the condensed milk gel and nourish! After all the surrounding coffee aromas I still ended up with a cup of coffee on the side! Hope you like my take on a Vietnamese coffee!