Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hot Chocolate Mousse

Last weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to make this cake/pudding: we were having Sami's cousin and her son over for Saturday lunch. Sami's cousin is a high school teacher with a lot of personality; her son is her perfect comic foil, with deadpan delivery. We had a lovely long meal with interesting conversations about trade in 19th century Britain and how Tunisians would react to vegetarianism, for example.

I knew this would be a perfect dessert to make for this woman because she loves chocolate. She had hunted down the best chocolatier in Saint-Germain-en-Laye before we moved here, and when we brought her a box of my favorite chocolate, she got excited like a child at Christmas. My kind of dinner guest.

There are a lot of aspects of this recipe that make it great. For one, it's quite simple: once you've separated your eggs, you're home free. You can also make most of the recipe a few hours ahead of time and then finish it and put it in the oven right before you start your dinner. It doesn't fall like a soufflé, so it doesn't matter that you've barely gotten to the cheese course when the cake is ready to come out of the oven.

And let me just say that this is the perfect kind of dessert for a silicon pan like this: I'm not sure whether the cake would have unmolded from a regular Bundt pan.

And the verdict? It was light, fluffy, and very chocolate. It was more a cake than a mousse, really, but with whipped cream, it was a really excellent end to a fun meal.

Here's the recipe. Make it for chocolate-loving friends.

Hot Chocolate Mousse

5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped relatively fine
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter, room temperature
1 c. (8 oz.) boiling water
8 eggs, separated
3/4 c. (5.25 oz.) sugar
(optional: about 1/2 t. vanilla)
Pinch salt

If you're going to bake the cake right away, heat the oven to 350. Get out a Bundt pan and a baking pan (probably a 9x13 pan) that can hold the Bundt pan and some water. Butter the Bundt pan, even if it's nonstick, and sprinkle it with sugar.
In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup put the butter and chocolate. Add the boiling water and let stand for a minute or two. Stir until smooth. If it's not quite smooth, give it 30 seconds or so in the microwave. Let cool and then freeze for 15 minutes until quite thick. Whisk well and set aside.
In another medium-large bowl put the egg yolks and beat then just until mixed. Gradually add 1/2 cup (3.5 oz.) of the sugar (and the vanilla, if you want) and beat at high speed until thick and pale, 10 minutes (mine didn't take quite that long to reach that stage). Gradually fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. You can let this sit for a couple of hours now if you need to.
Add the salt to the egg whites in the big bowl of a mixer (with a whisk attachment) and beat until they start holding a soft shape. Turn down the mixer and gradually add the remaining sugar. Turn the speed up and beat until the whites hold a stiff peak. Gradually fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
Pour the mousse into the prepared pan--pour into one side and then into the other. Carefully smooth it out. Put the Bundt pan in the larger pan. Put the pan in the oven and then carefully pour hot water into the large pan until it's about 1 inch up the side of the Bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes (check after 30 minutes and cover with foil if the cake seems too dark).
Remove cake from the oven and then the water-filled pan; let stand 5 minutes. Then reverse onto the serving platter but do not remove the cake pan. Let stand for 15 minutes, then remove the pan. While the cake is standing, make some whipped cream:

1 c. whipping cream
2 T. powdered sugar
1 T. each Cognac and rum (or Grand Marnier), or 1/2 t. vanilla

(The quantities given here are half those Maida gives. She probably likes whipped cream more than I do--there's always way too much.)
Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whip until the cream holds a soft shape. I put the cream in the center of the Bundt ring, and it looked pretty. Eat soon and with gusto.

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