Flocking is a technique used to create a fine velvety textured coating on desserts. A spray is used to disperse small drops of flavoured, coloured cocoa butter. It is particularly popular with French pâtissiers who create layered mousse cakes known as 'entremets'. The cocoa butter spray not only creates a sophisticated show-stopper dessert but helps the dessert to retain its moisture.
Professional pastry chefs often use their own spray gun and mix the cocoa butter themselves. A more practical and less costly option for those not spraying every day is to use instant sprays which produce a flawless fine mist finish - chocolate velvet spray, white velvet spray, caramel velvet spray, red velvet spray and green velvet spray.
Instructions for use:
Firstly, the dessert that is going to be sprayed needs to have been frozen overnight. It's important that no ice from the freezer falls on the dessert or the spray might crack (as it did in the photo below) - try to cover the dessert in the freezer. The dessert must be sprayed as soon as it comes out of the freezer - it's a good idea to get everything else prepared before taking it out.
Prepare the spray can by immersing it in 50°C water for 30 minutes. This is easiest done in a water bath. Alternatively set an alarm for every 10 minutes and refresh the water. Check the temperature with a thermometer.
Prepare the area in which you are going to spray the dessert - it should be well-ventilated and covered to avoid making a huge mess!
When ready, take the dessert out of the freezer and spray it holding the can 30cm away. Ideally 1 or 2 coatings will suffice - otherwise the coating may become too thick and be less delicate to eat.
After using the spray for the first time store the spray can upside down to prevent the nozzle from becoming clogged.Ideas for using velvet spray
- Chocolate velvet spray - For an alternative finish on the classic Louis XV chocolate dessert, topped with a single hazelnut and a little gold leaf.
- White velvet spray - For a tropical white velvet mousse dessert, see recipe below.
- Caramel velvet spray -For a chocolate orange caramel extravaganza: make the base out of feuilletine, hazelnut paste, milk chocolate and coated popping candy. The main body of the cake is a dark chocolate orange mousse and to set it all off - a fine mist of caramel velvet spray.
- Red velvet spray - For the final element of sophistication on an Isphahan layered cake: lychee mousse, a raspberry coulis insert and a charlotte sponge base soaked in rose syrup.
- Green velvet spray - For a Christmas yule log to remember: wrap layers of plain and chocolate sponge around each other with chocolate buttercream to keep it all together. Create a grass effect with the green velvet spray and decorate with crumbled chocolate brownie to look like earth and sweet coconut mushrooms.
For the coconut feuilletine base Serves: 4
- 60g white chocolate couverture
- 20g feuilletine
- 10g dessicated coconut
For the passion fruit mousse
For the finishing touches
To make the coconut feuilletine base
- Melt the white chocolate couverture in a bain marie. Add the feuilletine and dessicated coconut and mix together.
- Using a teaspoon, spread a thin layer of the mixture at the bottom of the 4 round mousse rings to form the base.
To make the passion fruit mousse
- Mix the passion fruit paste with the water to form a smooth purée. If the purée isn't smooth, pass it through a small sieve.
- Add the light corn syrup and stir to combine.
- Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes.
- Bring the passion fruit purée to the boil.
- Drain the gelatine and add it to the hot purée, stirring until it dissolves completely.
- Whilst the passion fruit purée is cooling slightly whip the double cream to form soft peaks.
- Using a spatula vigourously mix half of the whipped cream into the passion fruit. Add the second half of the cream and fold gently to combine.
- Half fill each of the 4 circular mousse rings. Push a raspberry into the mousse. Top with the rest of the mousse, filling to the brim. Use a spatula to achieve a smooth finish on the top.
- Cover the mousse rings with a container so ensure ice does not fall on them in the freezer. Freeze overnight. At this stage the mousse can be stored in the freezer indefinitely and enjoyed at a later date.
To assemble the finishing touches
- Use a blowtorch to loosen the edges of the mousse ring. Once the rings have been removed return the dessert to the freezer for a further 1 hour.
- Follow the directions for spraying the mousse as explained more fully above. The spray can must be warmed in 45-50°C water for 30 minutes before use. Use in a well-ventilated area and protect surrounding area with baking paper or a kitchen cloth. Make sure you have everything ready before taking the mousse out of the freezer. Hold the can 30 cm away from the mousse when spraying.
- Use a paintbrush or tweezers to create the gold side of the mousse. Carefully layer on edible gold leaf crumbs or snowflakes, to create the effect you'd like.
- At this stage the mousse cake should be placed in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow it to defrost before eating. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Serve with passion fruit or mango sorbet scattered with freeze dried raspberry pieces.
Nicola is co-founder and CEO at Sous Chef. She has worked in food for over ten years.
Nicola first explored cooking as a career when training at Leiths, before spending the next decade in Finance. However... after a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant, Nicola saw the incredible ingredients available only to chefs. And wanted access to them herself. So Sous Chef was born.
Today, Nicola is ingredients buyer and a recipe writer at Sous Chef. She frequently travels internationally to food fairs, and to meet producers. Her cookbook library is vast, and her knowledge of the storecupboard is unrivalled. She tastes thousands of ingredients every year, to select only the best to stock at Sous Chef.
Nicola shares her knowledge of ingredients and writes recipes to showcase those products. Learning from Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola writes many of the recipes on the Sous Chef website. Nicola's recipes are big on flavour, where the ingredients truly shine (although that's from someone who cooks for hours each day - so they're rarely tray-bakes!).