Sunday, September 26, 2010
I had been baking cupcakes and cakes all summer, some for money, some for family, and by the time late August rolled around I just wanted to make something different, easy, yet impressive. In comes chocolate mousse. Mousse is always elegant - maybe because of its decadent taste and texture - people always assume it's incredibly difficult to make. It isn't and it's too bad more people don't make it as much as other desserts! In a way it's easier than a cake or cookies because you don't have to bake it.
There is some cooking involved, since there are raw eggs here, and lots of whisking. You can use a handheld electric mixer for the first parts of the recipe but I will say I used a whisk and I thought of it this way: if I whisk by hand instead of using a mixer, I can justify eating this mousse... We all make eating excuses like that, but you do burn more calories whisking by hand than by using an electric handheld mixer, right? I'd like to think so.
This recipe says it makes 2 1/2 cups or serves 8 generously but I doubled it to serve 20 people with at least 3 or 4 glasses extra. I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips for the chocolate called for because I was making it for so many people and I have to say I loved it and I won't be snobbish and say to seek out only high quality 66% bittersweet bars or anything like that (although the book does ask for this). I say use what you have - it will still be delicious.
Adapted from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
In the top of a double broiler or in a heat-proof bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and thick, the sugar should begin to dissolve and a ribbon should fall back in the bowl when the whisk is lifted. This could take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes depending on if you're whisking by hand or using a handheld mixer.
Stir in the water. Place over simmering water and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture is very thick and registers 160 degrees F. and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, salt and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate is melted and then continue to stir until the mixture is cool to the touch.
In a separate bowl, whisk the cold heavy cream until it forms soft peaks and gently fold it into the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until cold. Alternatively, spoon the freshly-made mousse into glasses or bowls first and then chill.
I served the mousse with some gluten free shortbread cookies and a dollop more of whipped heavy cream just because I had extra and I felt like gilding the lily. Here's the recipe for the shortbread, although the mousse really didn't need any accompaniment to be honest! These cookies are quite fragile and you need to be careful when taking them off the cookie sheets. The broken ones make great crusts for cheesecake though!
Gluten Free Cinnamon Shortbread
Adapted from 125 Best Gluten Free Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt
2/3 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup butter, very soft
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients besides the butter until well-mixed. Add the soft butter and mix until a dough forms. Pinch into 1-inch balls and place on the parchment-lined baking sheets. You can flatten these with the tines of a fork dipped in sugar or I used the bottom of a glass dipped in cinnamon sugar.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until very lightly golden brown on the bottom edges. Transfer the sheets of parchment to a cooling rack to cool completely and then take the cookies off the paper carefully.