[Michel Bras Recipe] Thanksgiving special – SQUASH CAKE WITH COFFEE NOUGATINE


Bring a touch of fun and magic to Thanksgiving, with a mellow cake topped with a crispy caramel nougatine and a dash of chocolate ganache.

In fall, potimarron squash is colored in shades of orange and brown. According to ancient texts, squash was a staple of the American pre-Columbian diet. The texture, density and sweet taste have inspired me to create this playful recipe. Enjoy the surprising harmony of flavors and contrast between textures. The crispy caramel crust unifies all the flavors, just like a magic wand…

To be prepared in advance.



81/2 oz. (240 g) Potimarron squash (you can substitute Hubbard, Buttercup or Turk’s Turban squashes)

1/2 vanilla bean

3/4 cup (195 g) heavy cream

1 gelatin leaf

4 tbsp. (45 g) sugar



3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

4 tbsp. (20 g) powdered toasted almonds

1 tsp. (5 g) instant coffee




1 oz. (30 g) chocolate couverture

1/2 cup (100 g) heavy cream

2 tbsp. (25 g) butter

coffee extract

EQUIPMENT : electric mixer, parchment paper, 4 ring molds, 21/2 in.×11/2 in. (65 ×40 mm), steamer, baking sheet, spatula.



Potimarron squash cake: to be prepared 5 hours ahead



With a sharp knife, cut the skin from the squash. Cube the squash. Steam for about 20 minutes. Cool. Remove 6 oz. (165 g) of squash.

Split the vanilla bean pod and let the halves steep in 1/4 cup (65 g) hot cream for 10 minutes. Soften the gelatin leaf in cold water, dissolve it in the vanilla cream.



In a bowl, mix the cooked squash, sugar, and vanilla cream until thoroughly blended. Set in the refrigerator.

Whip the remaining cream. Whisk the squash batter and then gently fold in the whipped cream.

Put the 4 ring molds on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Fill each one with batter. With a spatula, smooth the surface of the batter in each ring and allow to set in the refrigerator for 4 hours.


Coffee Nougatine: the most delicate step

Add 3 tsp. (150 g) of water to the sugar. Caramelize the sugar until it is golden. Add the powdered almonds and the instant coffee dissolved in a few drops of brandy. Blend thoroughly. Roll the mixture out as thinly as possible on a greased baking sheet, with a greased rolling pin Or roll it over another layer of greased baking sheet. Roll it fast while hot, or reheat the mixture in the oven to make it more pliable. With your fingers, pull the caramel into thin and translucent ribbons. Set aside in a dry place.


Chocolate Ganache with Coffee

Boil the cream and butter, add broken chocolate pieces. Add a dash of coffee extract, stir to blend. Chill.



Gently place each cake off center on a plate. Remove the rings by warming them with your hands. Spoon ganache next or on top of each cake. You can drizzle a line of coffee extract too. Put 1 to 3 pieces of coffee nougatine ribbon on top of each cake.





The Nougatine is the hardest part of the recipe, but it is also what brings magic to it. A good caramelization along with a fast rolling out before it hardens, are key to succeed.