12 July 2012

Rigó Jancsi or Hungarian Chocolate Mousse Slices

"This is the best thing to come out of that cafe book yet," said Cody with a mouth full of creamy chocolate goodness.

That's one solid vote for the Rigó Jancsi.
If you like your chocolate sandwiched between chocolate and topped with chocolate, then this recipe is definitely for you.

Yeah, it's decadent.

It's the dessert equivalent of the sexy girl hidden inside the mousey librarian.

The story goes that Rigó Jancsi was the name of a Hungarian gypsy violinist whose playing was so passionate that he successfully seduced a wealthy married woman during one of his performances.  Big scandal.  Must've been an amazing show!! 

Can you imagine having a reputation so fierce that a pastry chef would name their most sinful, decadent dessert after you?  Something for us all to aspire to...

What Happened:
Trying to be sensible with all this baking, or more honestly, panicked about my expanding waistline, I decided to make a half recipe.  All this meant was that I baked the cake in a 1/4 sheet pan instead of a 1/2 sheet pan.  Everything else remained the same.

The idea for the dessert is that there are two cake layers with a thick, creamy, chocolate mousse between them.  There is a secret weapon though--a thin layer of apricot glaze tucked inside.

All the elements are easily prepared and didn't take too much time really.  I found no pitfalls or temperamental steps in the recipe. 

One surprise was the oil in the cake given that the dessert is supposed to date back to the late nineteenth century.  The oil makes it a quasi-chiffon cake (quasi because you don't beat the egg whites separately and fold them in), and they weren't invented until the early part of the twentieth century.  But what do I know?  Although, a cake that is to be refrigerated has a better texture when it's made with oil instead of butter.  Butter cakes get stiff when chilled.

Things I Would Change:
  • I probably would slice the cake differently just to up the level of presentation.  Instead of cutting the pieces into rectangles I might cut them into "pie" slices.  It's a prettier shape and I'm known to be fussy about these things.  Or, I would garnish with a flower or a long chocolate curl.
The Result:
I already spilled the beans on this one:  Cody loved it.

Me?  I was surprised.  When I tasted the elements separately, the mousse, the cake, I was sure it wouldn't be my cup o' tea.  Too bitter.  Too earthy.  But when I tasted a finished slice I really liked it.  I couldn't believe the difference in flavor. 

The mousse played off the cake and the cake married with the chocolate glaze and, per usual, the apricot made it all work together.  It was complex and more importantly, it was complete.  Not bitter.  Delicious and well-balanced.  If you need a chocolate fix, Rigó Jancsi is definitely the ticket.

I will make this again, but I'm sure I'll try to make it look less Plain Jane.

Rigo Jancsi
makes 9 slices
adapted from Rick Rodgers Kaffeehaus

½ c      flour
3 T       cocoa
¼ t       salt
3 T       milk
3 T       vegetable oil
½ t       vanilla
3          eggs, room temperature
2/3 c    sugar

2 T      golden rum or water
1 ½ t   gelatin
1 t        vanilla
½ c      powdered sugar
¼ c      cocoa
2 c       heavy cream

¼ c       hot water
3 ½ oz  semisweet chocolate (or ½ semi & ½ milk), chopped
1 T        butter, room temperature

1/3 c    apricot glaze*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and make sure the rack is positioned in the center.   

Grease a sheet pan and line with parchment, slashing the corners to make them square.  Lightly butter the paper otherwise the cake may stick to the parchment.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together into a bowl.  Mix the milk, oil and vanilla in a small cup.  Crack the eggs into the bowl of a standing mixer, add the sugar and beat with the whisk attachment until the eggs are light in color and texture--almost to a ribbon stage.   

Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the eggs and fold to combine.  Add half the milk mixture to the eggs and fold.  Repeat with the remaining flour and finish with the milk making sure to keep as much volume in the batter as you can.

Pour into the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly making sure batter fills the corners.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched in the center.  Cool the cake for 5 minutes, then invert pan over a cooling rack and peel away the parchment until completely cooled.  (You can stick it in the fridge to speed up the cooling.

*While the cake is baking make the apricot glaze.  In a small saucepan heat ½ cup of apricot preserves with 2 teaspoons of golden rum.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring the whole time.  Allow it to boil until it gets thick and sticky and the last bits are reluctant to drip from the spoon.  Keep it warm.

While the cake is cooling make the filling.  Put 2 tablespoons of rum (or water) in a glass measuring cup.  Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the rum and let it sit for 3-4 minutes until it has “bloomed” (softened).  Then heat the gelatin in the microwave at 10 second intervals stirring between each, until dissolved, but don’t boil the gelatin.

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together into a bowl.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream until it starts to thicken.  Sprinkle the cocoa mixture over the cream and continue to beat until it’s barely stiff.  Stir about one third of the whipped cream into the gelatin until it’s thoroughly combined then pour it back into the cream and beat until the filling is stiff.  Don’t overbeat or it will clump up and separate.

Trim the edges of the cake and cut in ½ lengthwise to make 2 long strips of cake of equal sizes.  Place one strip of cake on a baking sheet lined with parchment (to prevent sticking) and spread all of the filling on the cake in a thick, even layer.  Smooth the top and the sides and chill.

For the glaze, cook the water and the chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir constantly (but slowly) until the chocolate almost completely melts.  Off the heat let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts.  Slowly stir in the butter.  Set the glaze aside to thicken and cool slightly.

Place the remaining cake layer, smooth side up, on a cooling rack suspended over a rimmed baking sheet.  Pour all of the glaze over the cake, smoothing the top and sides with a small offset spatula.  Work quickly and don’t try to do too much.  Pop the glazed cake top in the refrigerator to set, about 15 – 20 minutes.

Using a thin, sharp knife rinsed under hot water and dried between cuts, cut the glazed cake into rectangles (9 for the full recipe—6 for half the recipe).  Place the cut pieces in their original order on top of the filling.  Refrigerate until the filling is set.  Cut between the rectangles to make individual servings.  Serve chilled.


  1. sorry but that's not what traditional rico jancsi looks like. This is more decadent then necessary because it looks like you made fudge brownies with mousse in the middle.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I would love to see the more traditional version you are referencing. Everything I have seen looks similar to the one I made, but I want to see what is more familiar to you.

    2. http://joepastry.com/2011/making-rigo-jancsi/ is a perfect photo of what you will find in Budapest. Your americanized version hardly has any cake and the cake it does have looks too sweet rather than balanced as well as your ganache being 'fudge'. This would be better labeled as A chocolate mousse cake but I'm sure it tastes good

  2. The cake may look too sweet to you, but I assure you it was not. And it definitely wasn't like a brownie. As I wrote in the post I was pleasantly surprised how well the components married together to create a complex flavor that was nicely balanced between the earthy cocoa, tangy apricot and milky mousse.

    I agree the cake to mousse ratio should have been more equal. Chalk that up to not having a smaller sheet pan. The recipe I used from Kaufeehaus by Rick Rodgers called for a 15 x 11 inch pan. I used a standard half sheet pan, hence a thinner cake.

    I compared the recipe on the site you referenced with the one I used. There weren't many differences, but three things stuck out to me. One, Joe's Pastry used a lot more eggs in the cake. Separating yolks and whites is essential for that version of the recipe in order to achieve both volume and moistness--this also accounts in part for his taller cake. I'd like to try it next time. Two, Joe's Pastry used chocolate in the mousse. My source recipe quoted Sandro Kovacs of Gerbeaud saying that real Rigo Jancsi always has cocoa, never chocolate. Three, Joe's Pastry used corn syrup in the ganache, like with fudge.

    It was traveling to Budapest and tasting the wonderful and balanced confections there that inspired me to attempt baking some of Hungary's classics. While my kitchen is, in fact, located in America I am in no way attempting to Americanize any of the amazing recipes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague that I explore. How could I learn anything that way? My desire is to bring these desserts to an audience that may only be aware of French pastry.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to look at my blog and open up this conversation. It's good to talk baking again! I've really enjoyed it. Hopefully, once my children are a little further along in their young lives I will be able to devote time to this passion once again.

  3. Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences. Goose down pillow