Feb 18, 2008

Cheese & Cake- let's be random today!

Well, this time instead of focusing specifically on a recipe, I thought I would share a maybe not-so-well-known food item. A cheese actually. A cheese that goes under the name of "Mshalalé" which literally means "brades/braded" and originates from certain countries of the Middle Eastern region (around Lebanon, Syria and Jordan).

As you can see, the cheese comes in a tighlty held braded shape, and to eat it you must unbrade it first to obtain seperate strands (as shown below). Traditionally, this cheese is best enjoyed drizzled with olive oil, Nigella seeds, olives, Arabic bread and a cup of black tea. I actually received this cheese from relatives who were in the Middle East... along with plenty of other food stuff! Very typical in my family, you travel with 2 suitcases- one for your personal belongings, and the other empty to be then filled with plenty of gifts and food items to give away upon your return! Maybe it's also a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cultural thing...

Anyway, so apart from cheese, this weekend I whipped up a birthday cake for a chocaholic (like me) and it would had been a crime to make a cake that was not brown and containing tons of chocolate! The cake was a first-time experimentation with blends of caramel (with fleur de sel, I love the sweet-salty combination), crunchy praline and rich chocolate ganache. It turned out to be delicious, rich but also light (I assume the mousse balanced out the richness from the ganache), and was devoured so quickly that I only had the opportunity to obtain one decent photo..the one below! Recipe can be found below.

Recipe for chocolate cake with caramel & fleur de sel mousse:

Ingredients for the chocolate cake:
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g butter + 100 g dark chocolate, all melted together
  • 120 g sugar
  • 90 g flour
  • Baking powder
  • Praline for decoration

Ingredients for the chocolate ganache:

  • 50 g liquid cream + 100 g dark chocolate

Ingredients for the caramel mousse & fleur de sel mousse:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 240 ml milk
  • 240 ml cream
  • 20 g sugar
  • 100 gr sugar (for caramel)
  • 2 tbspoon water
  • 3-4 gelatine leaves
  • Fleur de sel salt

Making the chocolate cake:

Preheat oven to 180C, th4/5. In a bowl, mix the eggs and sugar. Add the melted choco/butter. Follow with the flour and baking powder, mix batter well and pour into a mould. Bake in oven for 45 minutes. When ready, remove from oven, let cool and slice in half horizontally.

Making the ganache:

Place pan with liquid cream on a med-high heat. Let cream heat but not boil! Remove from heat and add chocolate until it all melts into a rich ganache! Make sure to mix well so that texture is smooth with no bumps. Set aside, let cool but do not let it harden (best to leave the ganache for the very end).

Making the caramel-fleur de sel mousse:

Boil the 100 g sugar, fleur de sel with water to prepare the caramel. When ready, remove from heat. Boil milk, then remove from heat, and add the caramel into it. In a seperate bowl, soak gelatine leaves with water for 5 mins, then remove leaves and drain them. Add the gelatine into the cream/caramel mix. On the side, beat liquid cream with 20 g sugar until it thickens like a whipped cream, and add this to the general mix stirring slowly.

Assembling the cake:

Use a cake mould that fits your cake's dimensions (you can use the same one that went into the oven) and place on the bottom the first cake slice. Follow by pouring a layer of the caramel mousse, and cover cake on top with upper layer. Place in fridge for 3 hours. Then use melted ganache (still liquidy, but not too hot) and pour over cake now removed from mould so that ganache can cover sides as well. Sprinkle with praline. Place in fridge for another hour until ganache and mousse are perfectly set.


A. Grace said...

i'm surprised you were able to save even one piece of that cake for a photo! i don't think i would be so strong--i've never been able to resist the chocolate-caramel combination. it looks just decadent, nice job!

Patricia Scarpin said...

That cake is divine! I love caramel and chocolate together...

pom said...

I've had that cheese before a few times when i was younger. It was really delicious, and very salty!

Pam said...

String cheese is a lot of fun to make (possibly more fun than it is to eat) ;)


jasmine said...

Ahh you gotta love the middle eastern relatives that come back with more food than they do clothes. Thanks for reminding me how much I love this cheese! And the cake looks like a mouth explosion!

Kate / Kajal said...

Mariannah , I've been seeing that cheese in the Lebanese supermarket for the past 4 years but haven't had the balls to buy some n try it !!! Only diff s they have it all soaked up in some water , which i presume is saline, and yes they have those seasme seeds n top.
The cake looks fab and cant believe there is some of that cheese in there. this definately has to be good and i'm sure i'll go n buy some now.
The cake really does look gorgeous.

Brilynn said...

That cake sounds absolutely amazing!

Marianna said...

thank you all for the lovely comments!

a.grace- i was surprised myself that i managed to even take a photo of the cake!

patricia- thank you for always leaving such nice comments here!

pom- cool, do you know where you tried it? i only seem to find it in the middle east or speciality shops.

jasmine- i couldn't say it any better, it's always more food then clothes hehe :-)

kate- there is no cheese in the cake! lol i hope i didnt write something silly on my post that created a misunderstanding that there is cheese in the cake... and the water you've seen in the supermarkets, that's completely normal...it's like when you buy mozzarella there's always that water to keep it fresh and w the good texture i guess.

brilynn- thank you!! :-)

Ashley (moonwolfblitzer@yahoo.com) said...

My grandmother used to have this cheese all the time! I havent spoken to her in years now, and havent a clue where I could possibly order any of the cheese from. Do you by chance?

Marianna said...

Hi Ashley- honestly I wouldnt know an exact address to give you, but maybe you could check some M.Eastern food shops? Wish I could help and give you some addresses or names... good luck!