The Beau Soleil (Beautiful Sun) is certainly beautiful and it truly delivers on its name. It is truly a beautiful taste of sunshine. I was hell-bent on making this cake for one reason and one reason only…Peaches. There is just nothing as delicious as a fresh ripe summer peach and this cake is loaded with that heavenly peach flavor.
The cake is composed of a Hazelnut Jaconde base with an orange soaking syrup. On top of that is a Mascarpone cheese mousse, Peach curd, Hazelnut Praline and whipped cream. Now I ask you, does it get any better than that. No it certainly doesn’t and I don’t think anything can touch this cake as far as taste goes. It is just indescribably delicious and well worth every minute you put into making it. While all of this may sound daunting and is a bit time-consuming there is nothing about the cake that is at all difficult.
The Jaconde base is a firm and rather dense cake but surprisingly light. It is a dream to work with as far as torting the layers go. It slices like a dream and holds its shape extremely well. It has a mild nutty flavor by way of almond flour and hazelnuts but isn’t at all heavy. The orange soaking syrup is a perfect complement to the nuts.
The mascarpone mousse is sinful, silky, sensuous, ethereal, dreamy and just plain good. It is so smooth and silky it practically disappears on your tongue and if you didn’t want to bother making the cake this mousse is good enough to stand up as a dessert on its own.
The peach curd is more of a chunky peach conserve. Part of the peaches are cooked in butter and brown sugar to caramelize them. Then the rest of the peaches are cooked with granulated sugar until they are just tender and then the caramelized peaches are stirred in. The aroma in the kitchen was more than I could bear. Total heaven this. This curd would be great on morning toast or English muffins. It would also be great stirred into homemade vanilla ice cream with a handful of hazelnuts or simply poured over store bought ice cream.
While I was making this cake I kept thinking that these components could easily be assembled as a Peach Trifle for a summer buffet table or afternoon tea.
To assemble, the cake base is torted into three layers, the first layer goes into the mold and is drenched with the orange soaking syrup, next comes a layer of the mascarpone mousse and then a layer of peach curd. Onto the curd a mild honey is drizzled and then a layer of sweetened whipped cream. Next the ground hazelnut praline is scattered and then the second cake layer is added and the process continued until the final layer is added. This layer is brushed with the soaking syrup and a final layer of mousse is added to the top. The entire cake is then covered with sweetened whipped cream. The sides are covered with more ground hazelnut praline and the top is covered in thinly sliced peaches to resemble the sun. The peaches need to be ripe but firm freestone peaches. I found that slicing the peaches on a mandoline worked very well for getting them thin and evenly sliced.