Payard’s Chocolate Yuzu-Cream Cheese Layer Cake

I promised you yesterday that I'd share a recipe from Pastry Chef Francois Payard's new cookbook Chocolate Epiphany. I learned firsthand how to make, bake, frost, and decorate this fabulous cake from the famous Frenchman at the Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic. To be honest, I don't believe I'd actually be able to recreate his intricate confection (seriously, the directions are intense!), but I sure wouldn't mind eating it again!

Click below for recipe.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Cake:
Vegetable cooking spray, for the pan
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup of water
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder

Ingredients for Yuzu-Cream Cheese Filling:
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 20 pieces
¼ cup yuzu juice

Ingredients for Garnish:
2 white chocolate strips, each 14 inches long and 6 ½ inches wide
6 – 8 white chocolate sticks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Spray the sides and bottom of a round 9-inch cake pan with vegetable cooking spray, and dust with flour, shaking off the excess. Cut a 9-inch round pieces of parchment paper and place it at the bottom of the pan. Set pan aside.

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter turns lighter in color and becomes creamy. On low speed, add the yolks one at a time, waiting until each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next.

Sift the flour and the baking powder together over a bowl or a piece of wax paper. With the mixer still on low speed, add them to the butter mixture. Add the cocoa mixture and mix until it is well incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 35 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides slightly pull back from the pan. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Invert the cake over a wire cooking rack, remove from the mold, and allow the cake to cool completely.

Yuzu Cream Cheese Filling:
Put the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat it on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Turn the machine to low speed and incorporate the confectioners’ sugar into the cream cheese until very smooth.

Replace the paddle attachment with a whisk. With the mixer on medium-high speed, whisk the butter into the cream chees e mixture, 1 piece at a time, until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Add yuzu juice and whip the mixture until light and fluffy. Leave the mixture out at room temperature while you prepare your cake filling.

If necessary, trim the top of the cake with a serrated knife to make it even and flat. Cut the cake horizontally into three even layers.

Invert the top layer of the cake on a 9-inch cardboard cake round or a cake stand, so that it is cut side up. Spread a 1/4 –inch thick later of filling evenly onto the cake. Place the middle cake layer over the filling, and spread a ¼-inch-thick layer of filling on to the cake. Place the bottom layer of the cake, bottom side up, over the filling. With a large offset spatula, spread the remaining filling all over the cake, smoothing it out as much as possible to achieve an even look.

Cover the sides of the cake with the chocolate strips to that their width extends higher than the cake. Push two of the opposite sides of the strips in toward the center of the cake, without pressing them into the cake. Repeat with the two other sides. Four (peaks) will be formed when you do that, which gives dimension to the cake. Top with chocolate sticks, planting them vertically in the cake, facing different direction to add height and dimension. If the cake was not on a cake stand, transfer it to one or to a serving platter. You can make it one ay ahead, and keep it refrigerated.