Monday, January 21, 2008
El Perfecto Chocolate Mousse
It's my contention that more words have been wasted debating the proper texture of chocolate mousse than that of any other dessert in the known universe. (Well, except maybe cobbler.) Which is why I nearly didn't post a chocolate mousse recipe. For some, the only proper mousse is something that bears a striking resemblance to cotton candy - light, airy, and elusive on the tongue. Still others turn their noses up in disgust at anything that doesn't resemble a texture so dense, it's like a fudge gone wrong – you can literally stand your spoon stick straight up in the middle of it, go dancing around the room in your underwear, and then come back to check and, yup, the spoon's still standing at attention where you left it.
I tend to lean towards dense myself. One, because it means you have to cook the egg yolks – an extra step, I know, but what price extra step if it means the immuno-compromised in your bunch won't fall over dead from salmonella poisoning once the dessert course is finished?
And two, dense means I can scoop the mousse out all pretty-like into melon ball sized servings and hence curtail my normal impulse to ingest an entire martini-glass full of the stuff like the little piggy that I am. Although, yeah, from the photo above, it sure does look like I'm about to ingest more than just a melon ball full, that's for sure. But I'm suffering with the hanta virus crud, and it's now three days into my terrible, terrible sickness, and I am therefore finding that there is little left to live for in this world except chocolate mousse. And Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
Now join me, won't you, in my sickness:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or chips)
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Put the chocolate in a large sized heatproof bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave for about a minute. Stir. Keep melting in minute increments until almost melted. Stir to complete the job.
Whip the cream in a medium bowl until it holds soft peaks. Do not over whip (you'll know you've done so when it begins to look like butter, so stop just at the soft peak stage before complete anarchy ensues). Set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and set on the stove to boil.
Put the eggs, salt, and sugar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer, grab a big ol' balloon whisk and beat until foamy and light, about 30 seconds. Set the bowl over the boiling water (the water should just touch the bottom of the bowl; if not, add or subtract as necessary), and continue to whip with the whisk until the eggs get very fluffy and hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. I know, it's hard, but you must keep whisking briskly, otherwise you'll get scrambled eggs and cuss a blue streak my way, when really, it will be your own damn fault. At any rate, think of it as a bicep workout and suck it up.
Remove the bowl from the heat, attach to stand mixer, and continue beating on high speed with the balloon whisk attachment until a thick ribbon falls from the whisk when lifted out of the bowl, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes more. If mixture is still hot, allow to cool to room temperature. Fold in the vanilla.
Fold about a quarter of the eggs into the chocolate to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the egg mixture. Finally, fold the whipped cream into the entire mixture and fold and fold (or, because I know your arm has just about had it by now, go ahead and just stir and stir – it won't really affect the texture) until everything has been uniformly blended into a smooth, light mousse.
Pour the mousse into 4 serving dishes or wine glasses. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Damn the cholesterol and serve with even more whipped cream on top. And chocolate sprinkles. And/or biscotti. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Alternatively, leave the mixture in the bowl, let set another hour longer in the fridge, and then scoop out with one of those cute melon ball scoopers into small bowls or dishes and impress your friends with the preciousness of it all.