HomeRecipesChocolate Chess Board by Sean Dwyer

Chocolate Chess Board by Sean Dwyer

(This recipe appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

This dessert was inspired by my grandfather, who taught me how to play chess. It was a tradition to play chess with family and friends during the Christmas holiday, so I used warm flavors that were inspired by the season in this cake.

Yield: 1 cake

Special Equipment: Patelai silicone chess mold (8.1ʺ x 3.3ʺ/20.5 x 8.3 cm)

Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 ½ sheets gelatin (silver)
  • 135 g half-and-half
  • 175 g Cacao Barry 64% Extra-bitter Guayaquil Chocolate
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • 270 g cream whipped to soft peaks
  1. Soak gelatin in ice water until softened, squeeze out excess water and set aside.
  1. In a pot, bring the half-and-half to a boil; add gelatin and stir to dissolve. Pour half-and-half over chocolate and whisk until smooth and emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure that the wrap is touching the ganache. Cool ganache to 104˚F (40˚C), then fold into whipped cream.

Spiced Caramel Sauce

  • 1 sheet gelatin (silver)
  • 162 g heavy cream
  • Ground cinnamon, to taste (optional)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 g salt
  • 110 g glucose
  • 115 g granulated sugar
  • 53 g unsalted butter, cold
  1. Bloom the gelatin.
  1. Bring the cream, cinnamon, vanilla bean and salt to a boil; set aside.
  1. In a pot, caramelize the glucose and sugar to a light amber color. Whisk in with cream. Add the gelatin and let cool to 140˚F (60˚C). Burr-mix the cold butter in. Let chill completely in the cooler.
  1. Pipe a thin layer of caramel sauce on top of the frozen Praline Cremeux and set in the freezer.

Praline Cremeux

  • 1 sheet gelatin (silver)
  • 30 g egg yolks
  • 35 g granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 145 g heavy cream
  • 10 g glucose
  • 45 g praline paste
  1. Bloom the gelatin.
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and vanilla bean.
  1. Bring the cream and glucose to a boil. Temper into yolk mixture and cook to 180˚F (82˚C). Add the gelatin and praline paste. Pour into 5 1/2ʺ (14 cm) square mold and freeze.
  1. Once frozen, trim to 5ʺ (12.7 cm) square. Keep frozen.

Hazelnut Dacquoise Cake

  • 250 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 250 g hazelnut flour
  • 300 g egg whites
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  1. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and hazelnut flour; set aside.
  1. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high speed, adding sugar slowly and whipping until stiff peaks have formed. Fold the hazelnut and confectioners’ sugar mixture into the whites until smooth. Bake in a half sheet tray at 350˚F (177˚C) for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Freeze and cut into a 5ʺ (12.7 cm) square.

Feuilletine Crunch

  • 40 g milk chocolate
  • 20 g praline paste
  • 30 g feuilletine
  1. Melt chocolate and stir in praline paste. Mix in feuilletine until smooth. Spread a thin layer on top of the hazelnut cake and freeze completely.

Chess Pieces

  • Tempered dark chocolate
  • Tempered white chocolate
  1. Fill silicone chess mold (made by Patelai, the entire mold measures 8.1ʺ x 3.3ʺ/20.5 x 8.3 cm, and is available on Amazon) with chocolate. Let set completely.
  1. Unmold chocolates and then connect them together by melting the flat side of the chess piece with a flat hot surface such as a knife or steel pot. Then press the two sides together. Do this with both dark and white chocolates.

Chocolate Icing

  • 226 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 226 g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 99 g cocoa powder (22-24% fat), sifted
  • 42 g hot water
  • 7 g vanilla extract
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and cocoa powder until smooth. Add the hot water and vanilla slowly and mix until smooth. Put in a piping bag fitted with a #860 French piping tip.

Bronze Chocolate Side Panels

  • Cocoa butter
  • Dark chocolate, tempered
  • Edible bronze powdered color
  • Acetate strip, 5 ½ʺ long and 2 ½ʺ tall (14 cm x 6.3 cm)
  • Marble slab
  • Paint brush
  1. Melt cocoa butter to 113˚F (45˚C), then add bronze powder to desired color. Using a damp towel, wipe the top of marble slab to wet it slightly, then place the acetate strip on top, making sure it is smooth and connected to the marble. Brush a thin layer of bronze cocoa butter on top of the acetate, using long continuous strokes until it has set (this way it is tempered). Spread a thin layer of dark chocolate on top of the bronze, and let set with something flat on top to make sure it keeps a flat shape and doesn’t curl upwards. Allow to set completely for 24 hours for best results. Repeat until there are four perfect pieces.

Chocolate Checker Board Squares

  • Tempered dark chocolate
  • Tempered white chocolate
  1. Spread a thin layer of dark chocolate on top of acetate and let set slightly. Using a rolling dough cutter, cut out 1.125ʺ (2.8 cm) squares. Put something flat on top of chocolate squares to make sure they stay flat, and let set overnight for best results. Repeat the process with white chocolate.


  • Gold dragées
  1. In a 5 ½ʺ x 5 ½ʺ x 2.25ʺ tall mold, pipe 400 g of the Chocolate Mousse. Insert the frozen Hazelnut Cremeux with caramel sauce on top, with the caramel side facing down. Pipe 175 g of the Chocolate Mousse on top of the hazelnut insert. Place the hazelnut cake with feuilletine in the mousse, with the feuilletine facing down. Freeze completely.
  1. Unmold the mousse onto a plate. Place the bronze chocolate pieces on the sides of the cake. Pipe icing borders on the bronze pieces with chocolate icing. Place 16 chocolate chess board squares on top of the cake, alternating dark and white. Place the chocolate chess pieces on top of the squares. Place gold dragées on the corners of the cake.

About Sean Dwyer

Sean Dwyer is the pastry chef at Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club in Naples, FL. His signature style is a blend of classic and contemporary. He loves creating new desserts that look clean and creative but still have a great balance of flavors, wonderful texture, and elegance.

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