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Chocolate Mousse Napoleons
I had a wonderful Creme Brulee Napoleon at a restaurant recently and decided that the technique could easily be used for a great chocolate dessert. What I was really looking for was something that could be made ahead easily and then assembled at the last minute to retain the crispiness of the layers. I tried it out on a group of friends, getting them involved in the process of assembly as part of the dessert course. We had a great time and the dessert was a hit.
We are going to combine two recipes that can all be made up to a few days ahead. We will make a classic chocolate mousse and a crispy wafer with nuts made out of easy to use filo dough. Then at the last minute you can whip cream to very soft peaks for the sauce. Don't hesitate to add a sprinkling of shaved chocolate, chopped nuts or fruit if you want to augment the presentation.
Makes 6 desserts
If you have the time, knock 'em dead with Julia Child's Chocolate Mougins. Or just use the following simple recipe that is packed with flavor.
12 oz Heavy cream or whipping cream
1 tbsp. Real Vanilla Extract
8 oz Semisweet chocolate or couverture
Place cream in a saucepan over high heat and bring just to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Meanwhile chop chocolate into small pieces. Place a damp towel on your counter. Place a pan of hot cream on the towel, and then add chopped chocolate to the cream. Beat chocolate and cream vigorously with a wire whisk until thoroughly mixed -- add vanilla and continue beating until mixture forms a smooth fluffy consistency. The mixture will solidify as it cools. Depending on the room and pan temperature, the time it takes to become fluffy will vary. If you are making it ahead you can leave it slightly soft, as it will become firmer in the refrigerator. Spoon the mousse into a bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use. You may need to let the mixture come to room temperature so you can whip it again just before using.
Crispy filo layers
1 pkg Frozen filo dough, thawed as per the instructions on the box
1 cup Nuts, finely chopped, use whatever is your favorite
1 cup Unsalted butter, melted
1 cup Granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 300† F. Place sheets of thawed filo dough on your work surface, covering them with a slightly damp towel to keep the layers from drying out. We are going to make a wafer out of three sheets of filo layered on top of each other with butter, nuts and sugar inbetween. Have butter, sugar and nuts close by. Take out one sheet of filo dough from under the towel and brush lightly with melted butter, covering the whole sheet. Sprinkle sugar and nuts in a thin layer over the buttered filo sheet. Take out another filo sheet and lay it over the dressed sheet, carefully pressing it into onto the sugar, nuts and butter. Then butter that layer and sprinkle with nuts and sugar. Repeat the process with the last layer making sure that the nuts and sugar lightly cover the whole surface as this will be top of the wafer. Working quickly cut the rectangle of into 12 pieces. I did 2 cuts down the length of the sheet dividing it into three ribbons and three down the width of each ribbon for a total of twelve squares.
Carefully place the squares on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile make two more batches of wafers or as many as you have nuts, sugar and butter. These are fragile so a couple may crack or break. You will only need 18 for 6 desserts so don't hesitate to test the rejects.
The last recipe you'll need to make is a very soft whipped cream.
1/2 pint Heavy or whipping cream
1 tsp. Real Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp. Granulated sugar
Place the cream in a cold bowl and whip until frothy. Add the vanilla and sugar and whip only until soft peaks form. You want the cream to flow down the side of the dessert not just sit on to top. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Assembling the Dessert: Place a filo nut wafer on each dessert plate. Spoon a portion of the chocolate mouse onto the wafer. Top with another wafer, pressing lightly to center it on the mousse. Spoon another portion of mousse on that wafer and top with another wafer, again pressing lightly. Drizzle the softly whipped cream across the wafer and over the edge. Serve immediately and look for a big smile from the recipients.