I was feeling in a bit of a holiday mood again this week and thought that I would make one of my favorite Christmas desserts, Scarlet Empress. I think I enjoy it so much just because of its regal name. It always sounds so impressive when you tell people you have made Scarlet Empress for dessert. It also has a rather regal and grand appearance. At least I think so.
I have made countless variations of this dessert. It is really nothing more than a jelly roll filled with whatever flavor filling you like, sliced and lined into a dome mold and then filled with whatever mousse or bavarian cream you happen to like.
Since I was in a holiday mood I thought that cranberries would be an interesting filling for the jelly roll. For the cranberry filling I simply boiled half a bag of frozen cranberries with 1/4 cup caster sugar until the berries popped. Then I stirred in 1/4 cup raspberry preserves until well combined, pushed it all through a sieve and allowed it to cool.
This time I filled the dome with kirsch scented white chocolate mousse. It is incredibly simple. To 9 ounces of the best white chocolate you can find add 5 Tablespoons of kirsch and 3 Tablespoons of water. Microwave for 2 minutes then whisk the mixture until it is smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Allow it to cool to about 85 degrees. In the meantime, lightly whip 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream (don’t whip it too stiffly). When the chocolate has cooled fold it into the whipped cream and fill your lined mold. Then wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before unmolding.
I make alot of jelly rolls and swiss rolls and I have many recipes for jelly roll sponge but this hot milk sponge is my favorite go to recipe. It stays moist and pliable so there is no need to roll it after it comes out of the oven so it’s great when your pressed for time. It that worries you by all means go ahead and roll the cake warm and allow it to cool rolled up. It works either way. I have made this so many times over the years that I have no recollection of where I got the recipe but here it is.
Hot Milk Sponge:
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 11×17 jelly roll sheet pan with parchment, allowing it to extend over the edge a few inches on each side.
Heat the milk and butter just until the butter has melted, reduce heat to low just keep warm.
Sift the flour and baking powder twice and set aside. In a heatproof bowl combine the sugar, eggs and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk the mixture just until it is lukewarm to the touch. Place the bowl on a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip until the mixture is cool and has tripled in volume.
Sift one third of the flour mixture over the eggs and fold in gently, sift another third of the flour in and fold in followed by the remaining flour. Fold gently. Pour the milk and butter into the batter and fold gently until no liquid remains visible. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, level and bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown and the cake springs back gently when touched.
Cool the cake in the pan on a rack, then run a thin knife around the edge to release the sides, invert the cake and remove the parchment, then invert the cake again so the brown side is on top. Spread the jam evenly over the cake, roll so that you have a 17 inch thin jelly roll. Wrap in plastic and freeze.
I like to line my mold with plastic wrap so that is is easier to unmold. I use an 8 inch wide by 3 1/2 inch deep stainless steel mixing bowl for this.
Slice the jelly roll into 1/4 slices and starting in the center of the mold line the entire mold with slices of jelly roll. Fill with the mousse. Take enough slices to cover the bottom but don’t place them yet. Dice the remaining jelly roll and spread the dice evenly over the mousse. Then place the remaining slices over this to form the bottom. Place a cardboard cake circle or plate over this and press to compact the mold. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.