May 16, 2013


Joconde Imprime Cake

My obsession with french pastry techniques continues with this lovely joconde imprime cake.

Oh boy, did I learn a lot preparing this cake. Mousse. Zut. Shrinking sponge. Zut alors.

I loved the idea of taking some creative liberties with traditional french pastry techniques. I ended up using a fusion of French and North American recipes. Fusion cake? Bleh. Worst term ever. Or is it?.... Extreme fusion cake. Edgy extreme fusion cake. Cool edgy extreme fusion cake. Fo' shizzle my nizzle cool edgy extreme fusion cake! Oh dear.

Joconde Imprime Cake

Joconde imprime cakes are usually filled with layers of mousse, sponge, gelee, meringue and all sorts of other lovely french textural concoctions. I filled mine with layers of white cake, a strawberry curd and a white chocolate strawberry mousse. I used a north american-style white cake instead of an egg-y French genoise sponge because of taste preference.

The outside ring of colourful sponge cake is a traditional french recipe, it is called joconde imprime. This can be translated as almond sponge cake print or Mona Lisa print. You see, the French are much more formal and call Mona Lisa by her married name, La Joconde.

Joconde Imprime

Joconde imprime is made with a thick egg white and flour paste that is stenciled, piped or striped onto a silcone mat-lined cookie sheet. The patterned paste is frozen and then a light almond sponge cake is poured over top. It is baked, flipped, et voila!

Joconde Imprime

The absolute funnest part of making this cake was designing the stencil. I can't take credit for this design, it is inspired by Louis Reith, a fantastic Dutch artist and graphic designer.

Louis Reith in cake. I think I may send him some pictures. He could very well be horrified by a colour-changed and reflected version of his art on a cake. Je suis desolee Louis. Je suis desolee.

Joconde Imprime Cake

What I learned...

Gelatin can be very finicky. I discovered this on my first failed strawberry mousse. I used a fancy recipe that used fancy gelatin leaves and a fancy Italian meringue base. The recipe was not for beginners and the instructions were condensed. Needless to say my sugar syrup for the Italian meringue was practically candy when I poured it into my egg whites and my gelatin leaves got boiled. These are two big fat no-no's that led to a curdled inedible mousse.

I am very happy with the final mousse recipe; it uses the much more readily available powdered gelatin, no egg whites and one of my fave flavour enhancers, white chocolate. Thanks again Martha!

Freeze your sponge. Or work quickly. I lined my cake ring with the joconde imprime and left it out at room temperature covered with a tea towel for perhaps 2 hours and boy did it shrink. It was snug as a bug at first but by the time I began assembling there were tiny spaces between the sponge seams and more disappointingly the sponge had pulled away from the ring so that the top layer of mousse created a ledge. A ledge! Gosh forbid.

I will now attempt a tutorial on how I made this cake. The steps and recipes are in order of suggested preparation. Good luck!

Joconde Imprime Strawberry Mousse Cake

Yield: One 8" X 4 3/4" cake

You will need a few specialty tools to make this cake, an 8" cake ring or a removable-bottom cake pan ring, acetate strips, a silicone baking mat (I use Silpat). The cake layers, strawberry curd and joconde imprime can be made up to 4 days ahead but I suggest you make the joconde imprime the same day you assemble the cake. The strawberry mousse must be made the day of assembly.

1. Make Your Stencil


What you will need:


1.  Using a glue stick, glue the stencil template to your stencil material. (I used a plastic file folder as my stencil material as it was the correct thickness, flexible, durable, washable, cuttable and in my house.)

2. Cut out the white areas and outline of the stencil design using your X-acto knife and self healing mat. Use your ruler for all straight line cuts. You will need to cut out the circles freehand; don't worry it will get easier as you go along. If you make a mistake and cut through part of the stencil just tape it back in place with clear tape and trim off the excess with your X-acto.

3. Remove the stencil template from your completed stencil. Gently wash the glue residue off of your stencil.

2. Make Your Fresh Strawberry Curd
Recipe adapted from: Scientifically Sweet

  • 2 cups (340 g) sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 large (50 g) egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut in cubes


1. Place strawberries in a medium size saucepan and simmer covered over medium-low heat, until liquefied, about 10 minutes.

2. Place a medium bowl with a fine mesh wire sieve near the stove. While the strawberries cook whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch and lemon juice in a medium bowl until smooth.

3. Temper the egg yolk mixture. Gradually pour the hot strawberry liquid into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a spatula. Increase to medium heat and bring to a boil, boil mixture for 1 minute.

3. Strain the mixture through a wire sieve into a medium bowl. Using the spatula stir the mixture to help it flow through the sieve and gently push the curd through the strainer.

4. Gradually whisk in the butter, allowing each addition to incorporate before adding more.

5. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the curd and pierce a few holes to let steam escape. Let cool at room temperature, transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for up to a week.

3. Make Your Cake Layers

1. Prepare a full recipe of this Cake-box Cake recipe and pour it into a 13" x 18" x 1" half sheet jelly roll pan. Using an offset spatula spread the batter to the edges of the pan and smooth the top as much as possible. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 12-16 minutes until the top springs back when lightly touched.

2. Using an 8" cake ring, like a cookie cutter, cut out 2 rounds of cake. Left over cake can be used for immediate or later snacking.

3. Double wrap the cake rounds tightly with plastic wrap and place in freezer. May be kept frozen for up to 4 days.

4. Make Your Joconde Imprime
Recipe adapted from: Accro

I would have preferred a whiter joconde as a 'canvas' for the coloured stencil. I have made notes in the recipe for this revision.

Ingredients for the Joconde Decor Paste:
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (50 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (50 g) icing sugar (confectioners, powdered)
  • 1 (50 g) large egg white, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (4 g) poppy seeds
  • Pink, Teal, Yellow, Black & Ivory gel food colouring

Ingredients for Joconde Sponge:
  • 85 g ground almonds
  • 75 g icing sugar (confectioners, powdered)
  • 25 g cake flour
  • 3 (150 g) large eggs, room temperature (Use 1 egg for whiter sponge)
  • 3 (90 g) large egg whites, room temperature (Use 7 egg whites for whiter sponge)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (10 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, melted (Use 3 tablespoons for whiter sponge)

Instructions for the Joconde Decor Paste:

1. Using your paddle attachment cream the butter and icing sugar at medium-high speed until pale, light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Gradually add the egg whites and beat on medium-high for 3 minutes.

3. Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the flour into mixture and fold until batter is smooth and well combined.

4. Separate batter in to 5 bowls for colouring; sorry I do not have an amount of paste for each colour. You will need a very small amount of pink, about 1 tablespoon. Make the poppy seed paste by mixing poppy seeds into the plain paste. To achieve softer, vintage colours mix tiny amounts of ivory food colouring in with the yellow, pink and teal.

5. Place your silicone baking mat on the back of a half sheet jelly roll pan. Place your stencil near the top left corner of the mat and fill your stencil following your handy colour guide. You are less likely to smudge your design if you fill the colours left to right. I used a tiny 3" metal spatula that came with my gumpaste tool kit to apply and smooth the paste; the back of a small shallow spoon may also work. Use a damp paper towel to clean your spatula between colours. Paste should be about 1/16" thick. Complete two rows of two repeats on your silicone mat.

6. Move your stenciled mat from the back of the pan to the inside of the pan. Freeze for 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Instructions for the Joconde Sponge:

1. Preheat oven to 450° F (230° C) and center rack.

2. Whisk egg whites in a stand mixer until frothy . Gradually add the granulated sugar and whip until you reach firm, glossy peaks. Reserve in a separate bowl.

3. Sift ground almonds, icing sugar and cake flour into the bowl of your stand mixer, no need to clean the bowl.

4. Using a paddle attachment gradually add the eggs into the dry mixture at medium speed. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light on medium-high speed about 2 minutes.

5. Fold in one-third of egg whites into almond mixture to the lighten the batter. Fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks can be seen. Do not overmix.

6. Fold in melted butter.

7. Remove joconde decor paste from the freezer. Promptly pour joconde sponge batter over the decor paste. Using an offset spatula spread the batter to the edges of the pan and smooth the top as much as possible.

8. Bake for 4-6 minutes until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Do not let sponge brown, it should colour just slightly.

9. Cool for 30 minutes and flip onto parchment paper. Remove silicone mat. Cake should be right side up and pattern showing. Admire your work!

10. Cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature up to 2 days or make up to 4 days ahead and freeze tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. To defrost place in the refrigerator overnight and then bring up to room temperature before cake assembly.

5. Make Your Strawberry Mousse

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

  • 1 lb (454 g) fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoon (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 16 oz white couverture chocolate, chopped
  • 5 teaspoons (14 g / 2 packets) powdered gelatin
  • 4 cups (1 L) whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons (30 g) icing sugar (confectioners, powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons ( 15 g) strawberry jello powder (optional, for flavour)


1. Puree the strawberries in a food processor until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of puree. Stir in lemon juice and optional jello powder and set aside.

2. Melt chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth; set aside.

3. Put 1/2 cup of cool water into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over top and stir gently; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir 1/2 cup cream and confectioner's sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and add gelatin. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.

4. Pour gelatin mixture into the bowl of melted chocolate, and stir until smooth. Stir strawberry puree into chocolate mixture.

5. Put remaining 3 1/2 cups of whipping cream into bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Stir one-third of the whip cream into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whip cream until no white streaks remain.

6. Use immediately.

6. Assemble Your Cake

1. Place your cake ring on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Line your cake ring with acetate strips to a height of 4 1/2" to 5". (My acetate strips were 2 3/8" tall so I stacked them 2 rings high.)

2. Trim your joconde imprime to two, 4 1/4" wide strips, centering the design. Line your cake ring with sponge, matching the design across first seam. Trim the length of your joconde imprime to fit VERY tightly within the ring. You will need to adjust and measure this yourself. The design across your second seam will not match up; sorry, I'm not that much of a perfectionist yet.

Joconde Imprime

3. Using this 7 1/2" circle template trim one layer of your frozen Cake-box cake. Place it inside your joconde imprime lined cake ring. It will be an extremely snug fit. Carefully push the cake firmly to the bottom of the cake ring. I then brushed the cake with a vanilla sugar syrup but this is optional.

4. Spread half of the strawberry curd on top of the cake layer and smooth. Then pour one-third of the strawberry mousse, about a 1" layer, on top of the curd. Place the cake in the freezer for 1 hour. Ensure the cake is resting on an even surface.

5. Trim your second layer of frozen Cake-box cake with the circle template. Place it in the cake ring on top of the frozen mousse layer. Push the cake down firmly until it is evenly resting on the mousse. Brush with optional vanilla sugar syrup. Spread the remaining strawberry curd on to the cake. Pour the remaining mousse to the top of the acetate strips and carefully scrape the excess mousse off the top with a large ruler or metal spatula knife. Place the cake in the freezer overnight. Cake will keep in the freezer up to 4 days.

6. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator at least 6 hours before eating. Cake will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Whew! I think writing this post took as long as making the cake!

xoxo Melissa


  1. Wow. Hats off to you, that cake looks amazing!

  2. I return to this post about once a month to admire your cake! I'm trying to work up enough nerve to attempt a joconde imprime and this one is so incredibly well done.

  3. I loved this recipe! How long does the mousse last in the freezer?

    1. Hey Jessica, I wouldn't freeze it for more than a week. If you do freeze it make sure its in the form you want to serve it in ei. in a cake or in serving bowls because once chilled it is set and cannot be transferred. Hope that makes sense :)

  4. This is fantastic! Thank you for teaching!

  5. Hi Melissa, do you do anything special to stick the seams together? Or do they just stick when the cake sets?

    1. Hi! It will just stick, make sure the seams are nice and snug. And once you get the cake placed in the pan/mold make sure to work fast to fill it or at least get it in the fridge. The sponge dries quite quickly and shrinks up which will spread the seams. I need to make another one of these!


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