This Chicken Avocado Sandwich Cake is the latest edition in my sandwich cake obsession. I am also combining it with my curiosity about edible flowers.
This made this sandwich cake in honour of my Mom. She loved pansies and went for a pansy figurine or motif any time she saw one.
Sandwich Cakes are great for any occasion. They need 8-24 hours for the sandwich layers to ‘rest’ in the fridge to ‘set’ so they are perfect make ahead for any entertaining menu. They are perfect for summer garden or patio parties, brunches, luncheons, showers – you name it!
I am a fan of pansies but for different reasons. I like them because they are one of the first annuals that we can plant after our long, drab winters. They will take a frost and even a snow!
And now, I am about to add the peppery, lightly herbal flavour to the list of their attributes!
Every article about edible flowers will tell you to either a) buy them from a commercial seller of edible flowers or b) use ones from your own garden that you know are pesticide free. So… disclaimer… check! You could substitute chive blossoms, lavender sprigs if pansies are not available. Check out this article and list of edible flowers from West Coast Seeds. You may be surprised at how many there are- lilac, rose, nasturtium to name only a few.
Many sandwich cakes have 3 very different layers of salads, like ham, chicken and egg. That just seems to busy for my taste buds so I try to focus the flavour a bit more.
I was going for chicken and avocado as complementary flavours. The tendency of avocados browning was as potential issue so I hit on the idea of making an avocado mousse to prevent browning and give the avocado enough structure that it wouldn’t make the bread soggy and in the hopes of being able to pipe it or cut it for decoration.
Chef’s Tips for Chicken and Avocado Sandwich Cake with Pansy Trim
- Plan to make this over a 2 day period ie. Start the day before you plan to serve it. You can make the chicken salad and the avocado mousse a day ahead or start early in the morning. The mousse needs about 4 hours in the fridge to truly set. The assembled cake with the layers (before frosting) also needs at least 8 hours overnight in the fridge to ‘set’.
- You will need about 4 cups of cooked chicken breast for the 2 generous chicken salad layers. I like to give my chicken salad a bit of flavour boost with this chicken salad recipe. Only do step one in cooking the chicken with cream cheese and tarragon. You can also use plain cooked chicken breast or your favourite chicken salad recipe. The point to remember is you don’t want it to be too moist or it will make the bread soggy. So use only enough mayonnaise to make it hold together and avoid pickle juices or other watery ingredients. The ‘frosting’ will provide the flavour that your mayonnaise and condiments would normally add to a chicken salad.
- You will cut the avocado mousse to the shape of the bread rectangle you are using. Handle the excess gently and you can cut out shapes with little cookie cutters to use as part of your decorating. I used a small butterfly cookie cutter. Then , you can put what is left into a piping bag and it pipes nicely for stems or leaves or florettes.
- I found the Tramezzini bread (rectangular slices with no crust) at Food Basics. I was thrilled so I bought a few and froze them. Some bakeries sell sandwich bread that you can cut horizontally and then remove any crusts. Failing that use thin, white, square sandwich bread, trim off the crusts and pinch 4 slices together to form a rectangular piece of bread. Some people use a rolling pin to help secure the overlap. For more detail see how it is done here.
- For the ‘frosting’ I used a combination of light cream cheese and Icelandic Yogurt with a bit of mayonnaise to smooth it all out. A package of dry Ranch dressing provides the overall flavour.
- Pansies and chives for stems came from my garden. You can pipe the avocado mousse into florettes to trim the ‘cake’ or cut shapes from the mousse. You could use other edible flowers for decoration ex. chive flowers, nasturtium.
Wine Pairing for Chicken Avocado Sandwich Cake
I chose a dry Rosé with a hint of savoury herbalness. It matched well with the savoury avocado. A Sauvignon Blanc would work as well.
The flavours here are fairly neutral so a Pinot Grigio, a Viognier or Chenin Blanc would work as well. Think unoaked, light to medium body.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cooked. About 4 cups.
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pkg plain gelatin 1 1/2 tsps
- 1 cup cold water divided 1/4 + 3/4
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 3 Tbsps mayonnaise
- 2 avocados
- pinch of black pepper
- 12 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 6 Tbsps thick yogurt like Greek or Icelandic (drain any obvious liquid)
- 3 Tbsps mayonnaise
- 1 oz pkg dry Ranch Dressing
- edible pansies, flower only or chive flowers or nasturtium
- chive stems
- 4 slices crustless rectangular bread 11" X 4"
- Pulse cooked chicken in food processor in 2 batches. Make a fine dice. Stir in mayonnaise. Use only enough mayonnaise so chicken holds together. You do not want it to be too moist.
- Line an 11 X 7" pan with plastic wrap and smooth out the bottom and the corners.
- Sprinkle gelatin over the 1/4 cup of cold water and allow to stand about 5 minutes til water is absorbed. Add the salt and boiling water and stir to dissolve the gelatin. Add the remaining cold water. Refrigerate about 30 minutes until gelatin is thickened. You want it to wobble when moved but still pour. Alternatively place gelatin in freezer for 15 minutes or so. Check it periodically so it doesn't get too jelly like.
- While gelatin is thickening, split avocados in half lengthwise. Remove pit and scoop the flesh out into a blender. Add the mayonnaise, lime juice and black pepper. Blend till smooth.
- When the gelatin is thickened add it to the avocado mixture in the blender. Blend lightly just until evenly mixed. Do not overblend. Pour about 1 cup of mixture in a cup (for piping later)and pour remainder into the 11 X 7" pan.
- Allow mixture to set completely in the fridge, at least 4 hours.
- Beat cream cheese, mayonnaise and yogurt together until smooth. Beat in Ranch Dressing package until evenly incorporated and smooth.
- Working on a flat surface take the first bread rectangle and spread 2 cups of chicken salad evenly over it ensuring you go right to the outer edges.
- Cut the mousse to the size of the bread rectangle and even 1/4" smaller. Lay the bread on top of the mousse and invert the bread and mousse onto a flat surface. Gently pull away the plastic wrap and portion of the mousse that is not needed. Try to keep the unused strip of mousse flat in case you want to use it for cut outs to decorate with. Transfer the bread, mousse side up, on top of the chicken salad layer.
- Top the mousse layer with another bread rectangle. Carefully spread with another 2 cups of chicken salad. Try not to apply so much pressure that the mousse squeezes out the side. Top with final bread rectangle.
- Line a 9 X 5" loaf pan with plastic wrap with a few inches of overhang all around. Smooth plastic wrap to the bottom and sides. Place loaf pan upside down over the sandwich loaf. Place the loaf pan over the sandwich loaf. Use an offset spatula or large knife to support the sandwich loaf. Invert the loaf and loaf pan so the sandwich loaf is now sitting inside the loaf pan. Use the plastic overhang to seal the top of the sandwich loaf. Place a weight on top of the sandwich loaf and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. The loaf will compress and become sturdier.
- When ready to frost carefully remove the sandwich loaf from the loaf pan and transfer to a flat surface. Spread the top and all sides with cream cheese 'frosting'.
- Center a pansy blossom on one end of the loaf. Use cut chives to form a stem and other flower bud stems. Cut out mousse decorations if using. Pipe avocado mousse 'leaves' or trim with piped florettes. Add extra pansy blossoms if desired to long edge of loaf.
- Loaf will keep refrigerated a day once frosted. Leftovers keep well refrigerated for a couple of days