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I think we would all agree that there is nothing as luscious as a spoonful of deep chocolate mousse. Ingredients used are more important than techniques. Use only the best chocolate you can find and you will have a fabulous chocolate mousse, whether you use a simple recipe or produce an extraordinary Tiramisu.
I have found that the supermarket brands of baking chocolate just don't contribute much to a mousse. The granular texture of the products, while fine for cookies and cakes, is emphasized in a cream concoction. The small particles seem to "grow" when combined with cream or butter, lending a gritty consistency to the final product. So please look for a better chocolate at a local chocolate shop or specialty food store.
For a very simple chocolate mousse take a basic ganache recipe (see Lesson #2), add flavoring such as a couple of tablespoons of coffee or your favorite liqueur, whip the mixture until it is light and fluffy, chill, and serve.
For the more adventurous, I have included below my favorite dark, rich mousse recipe from the venerable Julia Child. It has wowed many guests over the years. The second recipe is the for the dessert of the moment: Tiramisu. This is a wonderful coffee, mascarpone, and chocolate concoction.
Have fun and, again, use the best chocolate for the best results.
For 4.5 cups, serving 8 people
Julia Child, Julia Child & More Company, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979, Page 103.
12 oz/340 gm Best quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 oz/45 gm Unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 teaspoon/12 ml Plain unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons/45 ml Dark Jamaica rum, Cognac or bourbon whiskey
3 Large eggs
2 Egg whites
1 1/2 cups/3/5 dl Heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons/25 ml Pure vanilla extract
Large pinch of salt
3 tablespoons/45 ml Sugar
Flavor Note: This is a very strong, rich, dark, very chocolatey mousse, on the bittersweet side. It consists only of melted chocolate that is folded into a rich custard sauce, and is lightened by beaten egg whites, yet given body with a little gelatin.
Break up the two chocolates and set in a small covered saucepan. Bring 2 inches (5 cm) of water to boil in a larger pan; remove from heat. Cover chocolate pan and set in the hot water. Chocolate will melt while you proceed with the rest of the recipe. Renew hot water if necessary; chocolate should be smoothly melted and darkly glistening.
Measure gelatin into a bowl of cup, pour on the rum or other liquid, and let soften.
Separate the eggs, dropping the whites, plus extra whites, into a beating bowl, and the yolks into a stainless-steel saucepan. Set whites aside for later. Beat the yolks for a minute with a wire whip, or until thick and sticky; then blend in the cream. Stir rather slowly over low heat with a wooden spatula or spoon, reaching all over bottom of pan, as liquid slowly heats. (Watch it carefully, and do not let it come to the simmer.) Bubbles will begin to appear on the surface, and in a few minutes the bubbles will start to subside. Then watch for a whiff of steam rising -- this indicates that the sauce is thickening. Continue for a few seconds until the sauce clings in a light layer to the back of your spatula or spoon. Immediately remove from heat, and stir for a minute or so to stop cooking.
At once stir the softened gelatin mixture into the hot custard, stirring until the gelatin has dissolved completely. Stir in the vanilla, then the melted chocolate.
Set the egg white beating bowl over the hot water that melted the chocolate, and stir for a moment to take off the chill (egg whites mount faster and more voluminously when slightly warmed). Beat at slow speed until they are foamy, beat in the salt, and then gradually increase speed to fast until egg whites form soft peaks. Sprinkle in the sugar, and beat until egg whites form stiff shining peaks. Fold them into the chocolate, then return the whole mixture to the egg white bowl, cover and chill. Turn the mousse into an attractive dish or individual pots, and serve with bowls of chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
6 oz/200 gm Mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons/45 ml Cocoa powder
2 tablespoons/30 ml Icing or Confectioners Sugar
5 tablespoons/75 ml Kahlua, any coffee flavored liqueur or very strong coffee
1 teaspoon/5 ml Pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup/125 ml Whipping cream
12 Lady Fingers
Beat the cheese, cocoa powder, icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of the Kahlua, 1/2 teaspoons of the vanilla extract in a large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended.
In another bowl whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture.
Combine the remaining Kahlua and vanilla in a small bowl.
Cut the lady fingers in half length-wise. Using either a 1 quart glass dessert bowl or 6 individual glass bowls, place one layer of lady fingers on the bottom. Brush with some of the Kahlua/vanilla mixture. Spoon 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the lady finger layer. Repeat two more times until there are three layers of both lady fingers and cheese mixture. If there are lady fingers left, use them to decorate the top of the dessert, drizzling any left over Kahlua/vanilla mixture over the fingers.
Dust the top lightly with cocoa powder and serve with sweetened whipped cream if desired.