NOTHING TICKLES MY TASTE BUDS more than Chocolate Mousse. I love its light, foamy texture and its rich, out-of-this-world flavor. Furthermore, mousse freezes perfectly well. This means you can schedule it for your very next dinner party.
Need further goading? You’ll probably lose weight while making this bit of French fabulousness. For mousse-making involves much beating with a wire whip. A wire whip you hold in your hand.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 1961, Knopf
Ingredients for about 5 cups, or 6-8 servings
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites (let these come to room-temperature)
3/4 cup instant (or “super-fine”) sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur
6 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
4 Tbsp strong coffee
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
Optional: Sweetened whipped cream
Special equipment – A wire whip; an electric mixer (or stand mixer); a pan of not-quite-simmering water, and a big bowl of ice-water.
1. The egg yolks, sugar and liqueur – Add egg yolks and sugar to a medium-size saucepan or mixing bowl. Using your wire whip, briskly beat until very thick – about 2 minutes. Then add the liqueur and continue to beat for another 2 or 3 minutes, or until the batter forms a lovely long ribbon, as above.
2. Heating then chilling the yolk mixture – Set the bowl or saucepan over the pot of not-quite-simmering water. Continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture becomes very hot to the touch, is slightly foamy, and clings to a spoon, as pictured above. Then carry the pan or bowl to the big bowl of ice-water, and beat for another 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture cools, and it again forms a ribbon. It will have the consistency of a thin mayonnaise.
3. The chocolate sauce- Lay the chocolate squares in a small saucepan, pour the coffee over them, and then cover the pan. If your pan-cover has gone into hiding, as mine did, you can use a dessert plate for a cover. Place the pan of chocolate in the larger pan of not-quite-simmering water. After 5 minutes has passed, grab your wire whisk, and beat the chocolate until it is perfectly smooth. Then gradually whisk in the softened butter.
4. The egg whites – In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites first at low speed, until they foam. Then add a 1/4 tsp cream of tarter, and gradually increase the speed to high. When satiny, soft-peaks have formed, turn the machine off.
5. Folding egg whites into chocolate sauce – Scoop out 1/4 of your beaten egg whites, and stir them into the chocolate sauce to lighten it. Then, push aside the egg whites in your stainless steel bowl to make an opening. Pour the chocolate sauce into the open space, and then fold with a rubber spatula until whites and chocolate merge. Do not overfold, or the egg whites will collapse.
6. Serving the Mousse – Now, decide how you want to present your chocolate ambrosia. If you are serving the dessert the same day, simply refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. As it chills it will thicken. Then you can serve it from a big, beautiful bowl, or you can scoop it into dessert goblets. Or, you can turn it into a ring of fun:
To unmold, first set the ring into a bowl of hot water for not more than 10 seconds. And then…
Run a knife between mousse and ring. Then do the platter-inversion trick once again. Still sticking? Grip the mold with your thumbs, and grasp the platter with your other fingers. Bang the platter up and down while uttering curse words. Eventually the mold will come out, looking, I’ll admit, much worse for your effort.
Just before serving, quickly whip up one pint of heavy cream with a teaspoon of sugar. Scoop this into the center of the mousse-ring, and Voila! you’ve got a dramatic, decadent dessert which is easy to slice.
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