The traditional presentation is to scoop three balls of this dessert into a bowl or on a plate, dollop with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate sauce. A modern presentation is to cut it into squares so the different layers are evident. Rum is traditionally used in the simple syrup and chocolate sauce, but it can be omitted.
1 recipe *Vanilla Pastry Cream
3 recipes *(Combined for Plain Sponge Cake, Cocoa Sponge Cake, and Walnut Sponge Cake.)
1 recipe Rum simple Syrup
1 recipe Rum Chocolate Sauce
*Rum Simple Syrup:
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 (3-inch) strip orange zest (optional)
- 1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest (optional)
- 1/3 cup golden rum (optional)
- 1/3 cup apricot preserves
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup golden or dark raisins
- 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder for garnish
*Rum Chocolate Sauce:
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons golden rum (optional)
- 6 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Sweetened whipped cream
- Prepare *Plain Sponge Cake Recipe, Cocoa Sponge Cake Recipe, and Walnut Sponge Cake Recipe.
- Prepare *Vanilla Pastry Cream Recipe.
- Meanwhile, make the *Rum Simple Syrup by stirring the sugar, water, and orange and lemon zests, if using, in a small saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Continue to boil without stirring until the syrup has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely and stir in the rum, if using, and remove the zests, if using.
- To assemble: In a small saucepan, boil apricot preserves over medium heat and keep warm. Combine walnuts and raisins in a small bowl and set aside.
- Place walnut sponge cake in the bottom of a 13×9-inch rectangular pan. Brush with 1/3 rum simple syrup, then spread with warm apricot preserves. Spread 1/3 *vanilla pastry cream over the preserves and 1/2 the walnut-raisin mixture.
- Next, place the cocoa sponge cake in the pan, pressing down lightly. Brush with 1/3 rum simple syrup and 1/3 pastry cream. Sprinkle remaining walnut-raisin mixture on top
- Top with plain sponge cake, pressing down lightly. Brush with remaining rum simple syrup and remaining 1/3 pastry cream. Sift 3 tablespoons cocoa powder over top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- To make the *Rum Chocolate Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring 3/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons rum (if using), 6 ounces chopped chocolate and 3/4 cup sugar to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and cook at a brisk simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm.
*PLAIN/WALNUT/COCOA SPONGE CAKE
- 3 large room-temperature eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cake flour
- (1/3 cup ground (not chopped) walnuts for Walnut Cake) [OMIT FOR PLAIN SPONGE CAKE]
- (2 tablespoons Cocoa for Cocoa Cake) [OMIT FOR PLAIN SPONG CAKE]
- Pinch salt
- Place rack in middle of oven and heat to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13×9-inch pan and line with parchment.
- Combine eggs and sugar in stainless-steel bowl or stand mixer bowl. Place over (not in) a simmering pot of water on medium heat, whisking constantly, until eggs are warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute.
- Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or electric handheld mixer on high Meanwhile, combine flour, (ground walnuts) or (Cocoa) and salt. In two additions, sift the flour-walnut-salt mixture or flour-cocoa-salt mixture over the egg-sugar mixture, carefully folding it in so as not to deflate the batter.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake about 12 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and cool in pan 3 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the sponge cake to loosen it. Then cover the pan with a sheet of parchment paper and another baking sheet and invert the sponge cake. Lift off the 13×9-inch pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely.
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 12 large egg yolks
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- Have ready a large bowl filled 3/4 full with ice and covered with ice water. In large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk and vanilla bean to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let vanilla steep in milk for 10 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.
- In small bowl, gradually sprinkle gelatin over cold water and set aside to soften.
- In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with granulated sugar for about 1 minute to combine. Gradually pour in hot milk, whisking continuously.
- Return mixture to saucepan and, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until sauce has thickened and is 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, being careful not to over cook or you will have scrambled eggs! Turn off heat.
- Immediately stir softened gelatin into pastry cream until dissolved. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into medium bowl. Place bowl of pastry cream into bowl of ice water and stir frequently until it starts to cool and thicken. If not using immediately as part of a layered dessert, chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.