Friday, October 23, 2009

An easy and fancy weekend dessert

On the last day of our pastry "bonanza," our class focused on egg white foams -- mousses and souffles. What is a mousse, you ask? It is simply a flavored base (like chocolate...or grand marnier, fruit, etc - usually a meringue or pate a bombe base) lightened by both whipped cream and egg whites, and then chilled. It is similar to a souffle, in that both are lightened by egg whites, but a souffle is baked, further aerating the dessert, and served hot, while a mousse relies on the addition of whipped cream for further lightening and is served cold.

I have a complete weakness for chocolate souffle, with vanilla ice cream. But, I've never really fallen in love with chocolate mousse. Of course, that isn't to say I haven't met a real chocolate dessert I haven't liked (unadulterated chocolate - no raspberry chocolate, no orange chocolate, etc. Real dark chocolate).

In class that day, we were assigned to whip up chocolate mousse first thing in the morning. Although it was a bit early for chocolate, I was immediately smitten. Luck be it, Chef decided that afternoon to challenge us: he listed the ingredients for a mystery dish. We had to figure out the technique and then make it. What was it? White chocolate mousse!!!

These are perfect twirled in a champagne flute lined with chocolate swirls (get a small cornet of melted chocolate, an twirl the flute on its side, swirling chocolate. Chill) - just pipe each flavor into separate pastry bags, or swirl in one together. Enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse - 4 servings

150 g (5 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
400 ml (13 oz) heavy cream
3 egg whites
30 g (1 oz) granulated sugar
flavorings (optional)

1. Chop chocolate and place in a bowl. Melt in double boiler over simmering water. Stir til melted. Remove from heat.
2. Beat cream over ice to soft peaks. Set aside
3. Make French meringue: Whip egg whites til frothy, and add 1/2 of the sugar. Whip until soft peaks, and add the rest of the sugar. Whip on high until stiff peaks.
4. Pour warm chocolate into clean bowl. Lighten with 1/4 of the meringue. Fold in the rest of the meringue, making sure to clean the bottom of the bowl. Fold in the whipped cream.
5. Cover and chill in fridge, at least 3 hours, until ready to serve.

White Chocolate Mousse - 4 servings

225 g white chocolate, chopped
2 gelatin leaves
375 ml heavy cream
75 g granulated sugar
25 ml water
1 egg
1 egg yolk

1. Melt chocolate in double boiler over boiling water until halfway melted. Remove from heat and let sit til fully melted.
2. Bloom 2 gelatin leaves in cold water
3. Bring sugar and a bit of water to a boil and cook to softball stage (235-240) as egg yolk and whole egg is stirred in a mixer til combined. Once hot sugar is ready, add to egg yolks while stirring to make a pate a bombe, and whip until it gains volume and cools to just a bit warmer than skin temperature.
4. Add gelatin to warm pate a bombe and whip til blended. Run through a sieve to remove particles, and then fold in warm chocolate (fold quickly and avoid clumping).
5. Whip heavy cream over ice and fold into chocolate mixture.
6. Chill, covered, in fridge until ready to use, at least 3 hours.

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