May 26, 2013

Oh Ohs with Chocolate Biscuit

We are almost done with the cakes chapter, and I can think of no better way to wind down than with this fun and challenging recipe. Oh Ohs are Thomas Keller's version of everyone's childhood favorite, Ho Hos. The original Ho Ho was created right here in San Francisco in 1920. Hostess, the company that made them, has had financial problems lately, but thankfully, now we can make our own at home.  The chocolate biscuit recipe, along with sweetened whipped cream, are rolled up and dipped in luxurious melted chocolate. Our bakers stepped back into their youth when making these, and the results were deliciously nostalgic.

Metric measurement, Standard bake

I really didn't eat Hostess Ho Hos until I was an adult. My first experience was when I had an assignment to do a photo shoot of the dress designer for the Empress of Iran shortly before the Islamic Revolution. She invited me into her home and I was served Persian tea with sugar cubes and two Ho Hos wrapped very much like the way Bouchon Bakery sells theirs in gold wrap. I had no idea what they were until I unwrapped one and saw it was encased in chocolate. I felt like a barbarian sitting next to her as she was very prim and proper as I tried my best to hide my delight of enjoying the treats. I think she was amused. Nonetheless, I clearly remember they were heavenly along with the tea.

My bake: I made the chocolate biscuit and was pleased I didn't have to do any freezing until after the rolling of the Oh Ohs. The only thing is that the biscuit came out a little thinker than what the photo in the book shows. I made the sweetened whipped cream and used stabilizer. Rolling the biscuit and whipped cream was a bit of a challenge. I finally was able to tighten the roll once they were rolled in a sheet of parchment paper before freezing.

I didn't have Brune pate a glacer so I used 70% melted chocolate. I used gloves to dip the oh ohs in the bowl and did use a hot knife to cut the edges off that stuck to the silpat when the chocolate dried.  Once again, my family approved. I cut a small slice to taste and was impressed. I saw the swirl and the cake compressed and was just as thin as in the book. I followed the directions to pull back on the roll from time to time. This gave the uniform shape of the ho ho. They tasted just like the one I purchased at Bouchon Bakery on our tour of the shop. Another success!

standard measure, standard bake
ingredients: Valrhona cocoa powder, Guittard 72% chocolate, Valrhona chocolate pearls
I admit, I was intimidated by this recipe. I remember eating Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls in grade school. If you could peel the roll all the way apart, layer by layer, you were super cool in the 2nd grade. So I sure didn't want to mess this one up. I haven't had much luck with roll cakes in the past. I also didn't have much time to set aside this week, so I made it in parts. 
Chocolate Biscuit: Easy enough, especially after last week's recipe. I used Valrhona cocoa powder. The cake is super spongy. I was concerned that if I didn't roll it right away, it would be difficult later, but I wrapped the cake and put it in the fridge for a day, and had no problems later.
Assembly: Made the whipped cream, spread it thinly on the cake, took a deep breath and started to roll. It was way easier than I expected! Or maybe I'm just getting better at this. After wrapping the rolls in parchment, the instructions say to tape it shut, but I didn't have any tape that would stick to the parchment paper. So instead I wrapped it again in plastic wrap to keep it tight. The roll could have been tighter, but I was happy with the result.
After freezing for a few days, I was ready for dipping. I used 72% Guittard chocolate. I was nervous about dipping cleanly and coming out with pretty results, so I devised a few techniques. First, I used a potato masher, placing the cake on the grates, lowering it in the chocolate, and gently pushing the cake onto wax paper. But then the chocolate got too low for that, so I hand dipped the bottom and sides of the rolls, then placed them on a cooling rack set over a sheet pan, and spooned chocolate over the tops to coat and cover. Both methods worked, but I think I need more practice. 

PS- I went to Bouchon Bakery yesterday and made sure to get an Oh Oh to compare. Mine tasted just as good, and according to my husband, "even better". Success!


I was really excited about this recipe because I love buche de noel and the technique is basically the same. I did have a few minor issues but they didn't affect the final product. My chocolate coating was a bit too thick because I couldn't get the consistency quite right so there was a hard shell around each Oh Oh and also the cake was a little dry from keeping it in the freezer for too long of period. Just little things that I can fix and will make them taste that much better. In comparison to the ones from the bakery, these were pretty much as close as I could have come to replicating them. When I make them in the future, I'd like to wrap them in the foil like they do at Bouchon and give them as gifts. 

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