RECIPE – Le Papillon (The Butterfly) – Chocolate Dome Cake

For any of you out there that watch Masterchef Australia, Poh was the runner-up in the first season. She seems to have scored a better deal than the winner though, she has her own tv show and everything.

Anyway, my dear brother was the one  keen on making this recipe and brought it to my attention. Because I ‘had nothing better to do’, I ought to make it with him (was still on the career break at this point).

This is a chocolate mousse cake with layers of biscuit, poached pears & croustillant (wtf is that?!?) with a chocolate coating outside.

The original recipe (and videos) can be found here:

Just note – when we made it, the quantities seemed to be a bit off for some things. If we had thought about things as we were doing them, we would have been better able to adjust for quantities.

If you’re going to make this, I would strongly recommend watching the video of how they made it in the link above.

This is no walk in the park, it took us 6 straight hours to (leisurely) make this. Started at 9pm – finished at 3am (the joys of being night owls). I ‘borrowed’ my parents’ kitchen for this rather than the dingy one in my sharehouse – I don’t think housemates would appreciate me using every single bowl/utensil/pot/stove/oven, etc for 6 hours straight.

The layers:

Top to bottom (as you will be layering upside-down into your dome)

Inside –

  1. chocolate mousse, poached pear & small biscuit circle
  2. chocolate mousse, poached pear & medium biscuit circle
  3. chocolate mousse, poached pear, croustillant & large biscuit circle

Outside – chocolate nappage, decorated with biscuit crumbs, crushed pistachios & a drawn chocolate elephant

Phew! That’s all there is to it…

Can’t see my layers as I made dark choc mousse

Now for the ingredient list (taken straight from the website but with my comments & substitutions):

My Comment: I used 1kg of 70% dark chocolate (total) for everything & went through a 6 pack of eggs (guestimating the grams of the yolk/whites).

I also only wanted to go to the supermarket to get my ingredients – no fancy specialist stores – so if I couldn’t get something/didn’t know what it was, I substituted it.

The biscuit:

  • 100g almond meal (could only find 110g packet – used the rest in croustillant)
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 50g egg (1)
  • 80g egg yolks
  • 150g egg white
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 62g corn flour
  • 32g cacao powder
  • 35g melted butter

My Comment: This only made 1 tray of biscuit when we did it, so if you’re planning to make 3 (as the recipe states), you may want to consider upping the quantity.

Sugar Syrup

  • 450ml water
  • 600g sugar

This is used in the Chocolate Syrup, Chocolate Mousse & Chocolate nappage.

Chocolate Syrup (for biscuit circles)

  • 250g water
  • 50g cacao powder – substituted with cocoa powder
  • 250g sugar syrup

My Comment: Now this was waaaay too much chocolate syrup – this is only used to brush over the 3 biscuit layers – would have been enough to have just 100ml of liquid max. I would recommend 50g water & sugar syrup & cacao powder to taste.

Middle biscuit disk:

  • 180g raspberry jam (push through sieve so it’ll be smooth and seed free)

Silky smooth jam that has been through a sifter 🙂

My Comment: This is only used to brush over the middle layer of biscuit – 50g should be enough.


  • 100g couverture chocolate Venezuela(72° cocoa)
  • 100g hazelnut (pralin) paste – substituted with a heaped tbsp of nutella (and 10g of leftover almond meal)
  • 100g feuillantine – substituted with a packet of ice cream wafers which we crushed

My Comment: This is the layer with the large biscuit disk – again, I think the quantities were too much – we ended up with heaps of croustillant left over – not that I’m complaining, that layer was super-awesome.

Chocolate Mousse (inside filling):

  • 80g egg yolk
  • 100ml sugar syrup
  • 400g couverture Venezuela – substituted with 70% dark cooking chocolate
  • 850g thickened cream

My Comment: My choc mousse ended up a whole lot darker than Poh’s choc mousse maybe I was supposed to use non-dark chocolate? This mousse (and sabayon) was such a brilliant flavour, if it had been served just as a mousse, I’d still be deliriously happy. Mmmm… dark chocolate mousse.

Poached Pears (or other fruit):

My Comment: They didn’t give a recipe for this part & I had never poached pears before but google is my friend so:

  • 4 pears halved lengthwise (peeled with seed part & ends removed)
  • 500ml water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (or pods, whatever you want)

My Method: Put water, sugar & vanilla in a pot and get to simmer. Once it’s simmering, gently lower pears into pot. Once the pears are soft through & through (stab them with a knife to find out), they’re done. Take them out & when cooled, chop them into bits.

Chocolate Nappage (outside):

  • 500g masse a glacer – substituted with 250g 70% dark chocolate
  • 500g dark chocolate – substituted with 250g 70% dark chocolate
  • 250ml sugar syrup – halved
  • 250ml milk – halved

My Comment: I only bought 1kg of cooking chocolate total, 400g went into mousse and we were saving 100g for the decorations. Hence, we halved this part of the recipe and still had enough to cover our domes.


  • Crumbed macaroons/sweet biscuit crumbs – substituted with crushed Monte Carlo biscuits (opened the biscuits, scraped off cream, ate cream, then put biscuits in sandwiche bag & crushed them)
  • Crushed pistachio
  • Gold leaf – PFFFT!!!! As if I was going to bother to buy gold leaf for this – no idea where I would find some anyway
  • The butterfly – They didn’t state what went into the butterfly so we used 100g  chocolate and that’s it.

The Adventure:

Okay, time to get started. I won’t go typing out everything, the recipe is in the link, but I’ll make my comments & detail my (mis)adventures with this recipe.

The biscuit – had to blanch the dry ingredients – my brother & I had no idea what that meant. I know what blanching veggies is, but I don’t think that was what they meant. We ended up just mixing instead of blanching. We think it’s similar to sabayon where it’s cooked over heat whilst mixing – if anyone knows, please let me know. 😀

Also note, if you don’t smooth the biscuit properly on the tray before ovenising, you’ll have wrinkles on the underside (which we found out when we flipped it over).

Pre-bake & post bake

The sugar syrup & chocolate syrup – straightforward, no comments here (just some comments above – choc syrup = too much)

The Croustillant – double boiled chocolate to melt, then added nutella instead of praline paste. Had bought a 110g packet of almond meal so threw in 10g leftover from that too. We crushed the wafers in a sandwiche bag and that added the crunch to our croustillant.

Croustillant – before smoothed out into thin layer

The Chocolate Mousse – as mentioned, I made a dark chocolate mousse – just read the recipe again and they tell you what the blanch is…anyway, my brother and I thought the sabayon tasted really good & the mousse tasted even better. Supposed to add melted chocolate to sabayon when the chocolate was still warm, but we let the chocolate sit for a bit too long – still worked though.

Assembling – some ingredients we had too much of (croustillant, chocolate syrup, etc) and some too litte (biscuit). We ended up making 2 domes – I made a small one (think rice bowl that can fit comfortably in palm of your hand) and brother made a large one (think pho bowl) – note, his bowl was more flat bottomed which made pouring nappage a bit more difficult than my dome shaped dome.

Was not going to buy football moulds just for this so we used ceramic bowls. Had a thought later that maybe we should have lined them with gladwrap to make the extraction easier.

Ended up removing the domes from the bowls by submerging the bottoms in hot water (we had leftover pots from the double-boiling)

Naked dome – sans nappage (& slightly melted on top)

The Chocolate Nappage – the boiled milk didn’t seem to be enough to melt the chocolate, I had to throw it on the double boiler again before we mixed it with the melted chocolate/sugar syrup part of things.

We were supposed to let it cool to blood temperature (who says blood temperature? Why not say body temperature?) but due to the difficulty in getting the domes out (before the hot water idea kicked in), the nappage got considerably cooler & became a bit gluggy. Back onto the double boiler for a bit – but at this time we were a little impatient so it was still thick when we poured it onto our domes.

Nearly there…

The Decoration – okay, so my brother did the butterfly – non-creative person that he is. I wanted to do something else, something different, something 3D.

My brother’s Le Papillon

We still had the carton from the 6 eggs we used, I turned it upside down and made an M shape with the baking paper. I strapped a rubber band around it to keep it secure.

With this (and  thoughts of halloween next month) I decided to make a spider. I didn’t bother with a stencil, just let my genius work its magic. It was brilliant, stuck it in the fridge, fattened up some lines, stuck it in fridge again.

I was so proud of myself, my artistic ability and my 3D-ness. Still had some chocolate leftover, so I decided to do an elephant just for fun and the trunk would be turned up (more 3D-ness, yay!).

Aaaaanyway, when taking the spider out of the fridge to put it on my domey masterpiece, I flicked the rubber band to get it off and my spider went flying (who knew spiders could fly?) & shattered into a million pieces, leaving me distraught, devastated and rueing my dumbness.


Fortunately, I had a spare elephant lying around.

Cleanage – so many bowls, so many spoons, so many double boilers, etc – we went through all the utensils, had a big clean-up, went through all of them again to finish, then had a final clean-up – very time consuming.

I wouldnt’ be making dome cake every weekend, that’s for sure!

The Verdict:

It was a very, very good cake, extremely rich though (must be the kg of dark chocolate) and one could only eat a thin sliver at a time – it was definitely worth making if you have time & patience (& someone to clean up after you! ;)).

It did take me 6 hours, but I don’t like to rush in the kitchen so I was taking it easy, plus I had to wait for it to freeze so I watched some tv in between. I would recommend doing it over 2 days just to give yourself a break after all that clean-up & let mousse freeze.

It is most definitely worth it though. 😀


If you like this recipe, you may like a few others I’ve tried:

4 Responses to “RECIPE – Le Papillon (The Butterfly) – Chocolate Dome Cake”

  1. Hi, I am the producer of that Poh’s Kitchen episode where Emmanuel went to Paris and learnt this recipe from Master Pastry Chef Denis Ruffel then recreated it in Poh’s Kitchen. You did an absolutely amazing job. It was the most difficult recipe attempted on the program. Your blog gives a good account of the process and it’s fantastic when viewers actually take the time to cook something from the program….especially something as complicated as this and a recipe created by a French MOF. Congratulations from everyone at Team Poh.

    • Hi Keryn,
      Thanks for the comment, it really was my pleasure as it was definitely worth the taste (the clean-ups I really could have done without though). I look forward to seeing more interesting recipes on your show.

  2. hi
    i see u’ve done a great job and it almost looks the same except for the elephant 🙂
    but i wonder what happens when u leave the mousse outside the freezer for some time ,does it melt quickly?

    • Hi Dina,
      Thanks for the comment. The mousse didn’t melt if left out, but it does get softer.
      To be honest, anytime the completed cake left the fridge, it was not long before it was gobbled. 🙂

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