Was Palet d'Or originally created by Bernard Serardy in 1898 in the towns of Moulins as legend has it?
In any case this 'golden puck' (no hockey involved) has spanned many versions.
We get a chocolate iteration in Bouchon Bakery (Artisan Books, October 2012) by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.
Devil’s Food Cake (page 116)
0.8 ounce (25 grams) Brune pâte à glacer (see Note) or 55% to 70% chocolate, melted
1 ¼ cups + 3 tablespoons (333 grams) Heavy cream
8.2 ounces (233 grams) 64% chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (50 grams) Eggs
¼ cup + 3 tablespoons (100 grams) Egg yolks
¼ cup + 3 tablespoons (83 grams) Granulated sugar
3 sheets (7.2 grams) Silver leaf gelatin (see Note)
½ cup 2 tablespoons (150 grams) Heavy cream
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (225 grams) Granulated sugar
¾ cup (180 grams) Water
¾ cup + 3 tablespoons (75 grams) Unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder, sifted
Gold leaf for garnishing
The palet d’or—literally, “gold disk”—conforms to my love of both simplicity and elegance. This beautiful cake looks as if it would be very difficult to make, like a cake you’d see in the fanciest pâtisserie, but it’s actually quite simple: two thin layers of devil’s food cake, chocolate cream, and a chocolate glaze. It’s built within a cake ring, for perfectly straight, smooth, uniform sides.
This is a great example of how to make use of the freezer; the cake is essentially encased in cream, cream that would be impossible to glaze if it were not frozen. Once it’s frozen, though, you remove the cake ring and pour the glaze over the cream-covered cake, and it sets up smooth and shiny. The cake can be refrigerated for up to a day and still retain the shine. It’s garnished with a few flakes of gold leaf (be sure to use real gold leaf; imitation is not always edible).
You’ll need an 8-by-1K-inch cake ring and a pastry bag with a ½-inch plain tip. • For this recipe, we use Cacao Barry brune pâte à glacer, Valhrona Manjari 64% chocolate, and Valhrona cocoa powder.
Cut two 7G-inch rounds from the cake. (The trimmings make great snacks.) Using a small offset spatula, spread the pâte à glacer or melted chocolate over each cake round.
Line a sheet pan with a Silpat and position the cake ring toward one end of the pan. Center a cake round (pâte à glacer side down) in the ring. Place the second cake round next to the ring, and freeze for about 1 hour.
For the chocolate cream: Whip the cream to soft peaks; refrigerate.
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Transfer the chocolate to a large bowl and let cool to 100° to 120°F/37.7° to 48.8°C.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in the (clean) top of the double boiler over simmering water. Initially the eggs will increase in volume and foam, but after 5 to 7 minutes, the foam will begin to subside and the eggs will thicken. Watch the temperature closely, as the eggs will begin to set if they get too hot; when the temperature reaches 183°F/83.8°C, immediately transfer them to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed for about 7 minutes, until the mixture thickens. When the whisk is lifted, the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate to combine. Fold in the egg mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Transfer the chocolate cream to the pastry bag.
Remove the sheet pan from the freezer. Pipe a ring of cream to fill the gap between the edges of the cake and the ring. Then pipe a spiral, beginning in the center of the cake and extending to the edges of the pan. Center the second cake layer over the first layer. Repeat the piping, using enough cream to reach slightly above the rim of the ring. Sweep a long offset spatula over the cream from one side of the ring to the other for a perfectly smooth surface. Refrigerate the excess cream.
Place the sheet pan in the freezer. After several hours, check the cake. If the center has dipped, stir the reserved cream to soften it, then spread it over the top and smooth the surface again. Freeze overnight.
For the chocolate glaze: Place the gelatin in a bowl of ice water to soften.
Place the cream, sugar, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the cocoa powder, reduce the heat to keep the mixture at a gentle boil, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by about one-third. Test by spooning a small amount onto a plate: run your finger through it—if it runs together, continue to reduce it until your finger leaves a track. Once it has reached the desired consistency, remove the mixture from the heat. Wring the excess water from the gelatin and whisk it into the cocoa mixture.
To assemble the cake: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set a cooling rack on top. Position the frozen cake, still in the ring, on the rack. Warm the sides of the ring with your hands or with warm towels, if necessary. (Do not use hot water—the cream must remain frozen.) Holding one side of the cake steady, lift up and remove the ring.
Reheat the glaze if necessary until hot, and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a spouted measuring cup or directly over the cake. In one smooth, quick motion, pour the glaze over the top of the cake, beginning 1H inches from the edges, allowing the glaze to flow down the sides and into the center to coat.
Tap the sheet pan against the work surface to distribute the glaze evenly.
Let the glaze set for a few minutes and then, using a cake lifter or a wide spatula, lift the cake from the rack. If there are any drops of glaze clinging to the bottom of the cake, carefully scrape them against the rack to remove them, then place the cake on a serving platter.
tip of a paring knife, lift a piece of gold leaf from the package (gold leaf is
incredibly light and will want to fold onto itself, so keep it away from
drafts) and lower it onto the cake. We like to
leave part of the gold leaf standing up, rather than having it all lie flat. (The cake can be refrigerated, uncovered, for up to 1 day, and the glaze will remain shiny.)
To serve: Run a slicing knife under hot water and dry it well. Slice the cake, heating the knife again as necessary to keep it clean. A palette knife is the best tool for transferring the slices to plates.
Note on pate a glacer: Pâte à glacer, sometimes referred to as compound chocolate, is used for coating. It can be used on fruits or on ice cream bars or cones, or to decorate cookies or desserts. Pâte à glacer is available in three different flavors—brune (dark), blonde (milk), and ivoire (white)—and it doesn’t require tempering.
Note on Gelatin: We use only silver-leaf gelatin sheets. Sheet gelatin comes in bronze, silver, or gold, which have increasing strengths; silver is medium strength. Sheet gelatin has a purer flavor than powdered gelatin and is easier to work with.
Devil’s Food Cake
Makes 1 sheet cake
½ cup + 3 ½ tablespoons All-purpose flour
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (31 grams) Unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) Baking soda
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 grams) Baking powder
3/8 teaspoon (1 grams) Kosher salt
3 ½ tablespoons (56 grams) Eggs
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (126 grams) Granulated sugar
3/8 teaspoon (2 grams) Vanilla paste
¼ cup + 2 ½ tablespoons (86 grams) Mayonnaise
¼ cup + 3 tablespoons Water, at room temperature
This is the ultimate chocolate cake. We use it as the base for the Palet d’Or, but it’s fabulous just by itself with some whipped cream or ice cream. Or use it as a component in a parfait. Or make cupcakes with the batter, piping it into regular liners or holiday cupcake papers.
Sebastien wanted the cake to be moist and rich, but not oily from too much butter. He decided to try mayonnaise instead, and the cake was superb. It was a brilliant revelation! Little did he know that chocolate mayonnaise cake was trendy in America, oh, some eighty years ago. It worked great then, and it works great now.
For this recipe, we use Valrhona cocoa powder.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (standard). Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or spray lightly with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the parchment.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt and whisk to combine.
Place the eggs, sugar, and vanilla paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute to combine. Increase the speed to medium and whip for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then whip on medium-high speed for another 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. When the whisk is lifted, the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
Add the mayonnaise and whip to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the dry ingredients and water in 2 additions each.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, spread it in an even layer, making sure that it reaches into the corners. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched. Set on a cooling rack and cool completely.
Lay a piece of parchment paper on the back of a sheet pan. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it and invert it onto the parchment. Remove the Silpat or parchment from the top of the cake.
Wrapped in a few layers of plastic wrap, the cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours, refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.
If you will be cutting the cake into shapes, the cake should be frozen before cutting. If frozen, and not being cut into shapes, the cake should be defrosted in the refrigerator still in the plastic wrap (this way, any condensation will form on the outside and not on the cake).
(*Excerpted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012. Photographs by Deborah Jones)