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Hungarian Chocolate Mousse Squares
(Rigó Jancsi)



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now and then doesn't hurt!"

~ Lucy Van Pelt, in 'Peanuts' by Charles M. Schulz

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La Belle Cuisine


Hungarian Chocolate Mousse Squares
(Rigó Jancsi)

Exquisite Desserts from the Classic
Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague

by Rick Rodgers, 2002, Clarkson Potter

by Rick Rodgers, 2002, Clarkson Potter/Publishers


The Story Behind Rigó Jancsi

“His gaze was so soulful, it melted the heart of a millionairess. Their passionate affair scandalized the world and inspired the sinful chocolate dessert that bears
his name. He was Johnny Rigó (or, as he is known in Hungary, where surnames
come first, Rigó Jancsi).
It was the end of the nineteenth century, and Johnny was playing the violin at a Parisian hotel. In the audience was Baron Chimay, a Belgian, and his beautiful American wife, the former Klara Ward, a millionaire’s daughter. Klara was so mesmerized with the good-looking gypsy that she slipped her diamond ring off
her finger, and onto the pinky of the violinist! Even in Paris, this was a racy
gesture. Klara soon left her husband and two children and joined Johnny on
his travels. During the height of the scandal, a Budapest pastry chef named
a new sinfully chocolate dessert after Johnny.
Like many superstar marriages, this one didn’t last long. Klara and Johnny separated, and Johnny disappeared from public view. No one knows how or
where he ended, although some people think he came to New York and found
work in a Broadway orchestra. He contributed little to the art of the violin,
but he is immortalized in one of the world’s most chocolate-intense desserts.”

Rigó Jancsi

Makes 9 servings

“Rigó Jancsi is Hungary’s national chocolate dessert, although Somlói
Galuska (Chocolate-Cream “Dumplings”, recipe included in cookbook)
would probably make a strong showing at the polls. Squares of cocoa
mousse sandwiched between chocolate cake are covered with a shiny
chocolate glaze. For years, like many other bakers, I used a recipe for
mousse that was based on bittersweet chocolate. But when I discussed
this dessert with Sándor Kovács, head pastry chef at Budapest’s Ger-
beaud, he said, ‘Whatever you do, remember that the
real Rigó Jancsi
always has cocoa, never chocolate.’ For a contemporary touch, set off
the dark chocolate glaze with a candied violet or rose petal, or even
fresh, edible, pesticide-free flowers like Johnny-jump-ups or pansies.”

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed
[alkalized] cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons golden rum or water
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored
powdered gelatin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-processed [alkalized]
cocoa powder
2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup hot water
3 ounces high-quality semisweet
chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter,
at room temperature
1/3 cup Apricot Glaze, warm
(recipe follows)

1. To make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat
to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 15 x 11-inch jelly-roll pan, and line
the bottom and sides with parchment or wax paper. (Cut slashes in the
corners of the paper to help them fold neatly.) Lightly butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt together into a bowl. Mix the milk, oil,
and vanilla in a measuring cup.
3. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and add the sugar. Using an electric
mixer on high speed, beat until very light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Sift half of the flour mixture over the eggs and fold in. Fold in
half of the milk mixture. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk mix-
tures. Spread evenly in the pan, being sure the batter fills the corners.
4. Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, about 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on a large wire rack. Invert onto the rack
and peel off the paper. Cool completely.
5. To make the filling: Pour the rum into a small bowl and sprinkle with
the gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a skillet of gently
simmering water. Using a small rubber spatula, stir constantly until the
gelatin is completely dissolved, being sure to wipe down any undissolved
gelatin on the sides of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the water, stir
in the vanilla, and set aside to cool slightly.
6. In a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. In a chilled
medium bowl, beat the cream until it just begins to thicken. Sift the
cocoa mixture into the cream and beat until barely stiff. Stir about
one third of the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture, then beat
back into the cream, beating until the filling is very stiff. (But do not
overbeat, or it will separate.)
7. Cut the cake into two 7 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Place one cake on a
baking sheet. Spread all of the filling on the cake in a thick layer,
smoothing the sides. Refrigerate while making the glaze.
8. To make the glaze: Combine the water and chocolate in a small
saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber
spatula, until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from the
heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is com-
pletely melted. Add the butter and stir until melted and combined.
Set aside to thicken and cool slightly.
9. Place the remaining cake layer, smooth side up, on a wire rack set
over a jelly-roll pan. Spread the Apricot Glaze over the cake and re-
frigerate to set. Pour all of the glaze on top of the cake. Using a metal
spatula, smooth and coax the glaze over the sides, smoothing the glaze
on the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, about
15 minutes.
10. Using a thin, sharp knife rinsed under hot water between cuts, cut
the glazed cake into 9 rectangles. Following their original positions,
arrange the rectangles on top of the filling. Refrigerate until the filling
is set, about 1 hour. Cut between the rectangles to make individual
servings. Serve chilled.

Make ahead: The mousse squares can be prepared up to 2 days ahead
and stored under a cake dome in the refrigerator.

Apricot Glaze
Makes about 1 cup

“Fruit glazes – especially prepared from preserves – add flavor, protect crisp crusts from getting soft in contact with moist fillings, and provide a slick undercoat that adds an extra sheen when another glaze is poured over the dessert. Apricot and red currant are the most versatile, as their acidity balances the sweetness of the dessert, but you can use another favorite flavor, if you wish. Just be sure to use preserves, and not jam or jelly, which have different fruit-sugar ratios. The preserves must be simmered for a few minutes to evaporate excess liquid and give a firm, slick finish to the glazed desserts. It’s best to turn an entire 12-ounce jar of preserves into glaze, storing the glaze in the empty preserves jar, so you have small amounts ready when needed.”

1 1/4 cups apricot preserves
2 tablespoons golden rum or water

Bring the preserves and rum to a boil in a small saucepan over medium
heat, stirring often. Cook, stirring often, until the last drops that cling to
the spoon are very sticky and reluctant to leave the spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.
Strain through a wire sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on the solids.
Use warm.

Nothing bad could ever
happen to me in a café...


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