This dessert is perfect for a special meal – dazzle your diners with a large terrarium, or you can make mini individual ones. The edible jelly rocks need to be made several days in advance, although they aren’t essential. If you do make them, they are great to store in a jar, to be used to decorate other baked creations, or just to snack on.
You can really make this into your own dream landscape. It could be purely plant life, or you could feature small creatures of your choice.
For the chocolate mousse:
200g dark chocolate (finely chopped)
120g coconut milk (just the thick cream scooped off the top)
1tsp vanilla bean paste
120ml aquafaba (chickpea water)
1/4tsp cream of tartar
50g caster sugar
For the chocolate cake:
80g caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50g vegan butter
180g soy milk
Pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla bean paste
1tsp white vinegar or lemon juice
115g plain flour
3/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
40g cocoa powder
For the biscuit crumb:
Any pale-coloured vegan biscuit
Green food dye
Different coloured fondant of your choice
Edible sugar rocks
Decorated dinosaur biscuits. Make these using a dinosaur cutter and your favourite homemade biscuit dough. Decorate with royal icing (150g icing sugar and 20-40g aquafaba)
For the kohakutou jelly rocks: (These take several days to form a hard crust, so need to be made well in advance. Or you can just use shop-bought edible rocks)
140g caster sugar
2g agar agar powder
If you want to use jelly rocks, make them first. Add the water, sugar and agar agar powder to a pan. Heat over a medium heat and stir intermittently, until the agar agar and sugar have dissolved. Then turn the heat up to high until the mixture is bubbling. Keep it boiling for three minutes.
Remove from the heat and pour into a wide, shallow dish. Immediately use a toothpick to add blobs of food dye. You can use multiple colours. Spread and swirl the food dye through the mixture. Then chill in the fridge until completely set.
Once set, run a knife around the edges and then turn out on to a chopping board. Use a knife to carve the jelly into rock or crystal shapes. Then place on greaseproof paper and leave at room temperature, exposed to the air. In a couple of days, the jelly will become hard and crunchy on the outside – at this point, turn the rocks over so that the other side is exposed to the air and leave to dry again. Once hardened and crystallised, they are ready to use.
Next make the chocolate mousse. Place the chocolate, coconut cream and vanilla bean paste in a heat-proof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
When this ganache has cooled to room temperature, pour the aquafaba into a bowl, and whisk until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk again. Then add the sugar, one spoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue until the mixture has reached stiff peaks.
Add a quarter of the aquafaba mixture to the ganache, and fold until combined. Add the rest in two more batches, gently folding after each addition to avoid knocking out too much air. The mousse will deflate a little, but you don’t want it completely flat.
Pour the mousse into the glass bowl you want to serve your dessert in. Or you can divide it between smaller glass jars for individual portions. Place in the fridge and leave for at least five hours until set.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate cake. Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/400F/gas mark 6. Grease and line the base of an 18cm cake tin.
Add the sugars, butter, soy milk and a pinch of salt to a pan. Heat and stir intermittently until the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla bean paste along with the vinegar or lemon juice. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder. Whisk to combine. Once cooled for 10 minutes, pour the liquid mixture over the dry, and then immediately whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake for about 20 minutes. A skewer should come out clean when the cake is done. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Then start making the plants using fondant. You can use plunger cutters to stamp out different sizes of the same-shaped flower, then stack them together and curve the edges upwards to make a succulent shape. You can also cut various shapes to create some taller plants. To make the strawberry mushroom, just cut off the stem top of a strawberry and then arrange it on top of a piece of fondant for the mushroom base. You can also use meringue instead of fondant if you have the time.
When the cake is cool, use cutters to stamp out pieces of cake, and then use a knife to carve into the cake. Arrange larger cake pieces and crumbled cake on top of the chilled mousse to create a landscape.
To create the green “moss” place some pale-coloured biscuits into a sandwich bag, seal and bash with a rolling pin until they’re crumbs. Then add a blob of green food dye, close the bag again and use your fingers on the outside of the bag to rub the dye evenly throughout.
For the final decorating touches, sprinkle the green biscuit crumbs over the cake, then decorate with edible rocks, edible jelly rocks (optional), fondant plants, the strawberry mushroom, and dinosaur biscuits (optional). Enjoy!