Dreams in chocolate
All of us have passions of one sort or another. Sometimes they become obsessions or addictions. One of mine used to be collecting clothing, especially shoes, and jewelry. Thankfully, I finally got all of that out of my system and can some day be a very ancient lady, festooned with bracelets, necklaces, and rings, maybe with my hair in a knot. I am looking forward to that.
Meanwhile my other thing is sugar. I don’t know if I will ever eliminate it altogether but I have been working on getting it under control. As a little girl I loved all the worst kinds of sweets, like cotton candy (OMG) and my all time favorite, French creams, which are sold in very few places now. There was a shop on the boardwalk in New Jersey where my parents had a summer house, that made French creams in all flavors. I think they may still sell them. French creams are made with a ‘secret’ formula and require a copper still, of all things, hence their rarity. They are usually shaped like fruits or flowers and have the consistency of maple sugar candy but are rarely maple flavored, curiously. I have to admit, whenever a French cream is available, my discipline goes out the window.
Anyway, I have always loved chocolate too, but am not fanatical about it. Maybe one reason is that a lot of the chocolate we get is of such poor quality. I think if we had only pure unadulterated dark chocolate, minus all the additives, we would all find it addictive. Luckily studies show that dark chocolate (72% cacao) is healthy and even beneficial. So, that’s a good thing!
I have already mentioned that I love baking and once apprenticed in a bakery. So, I want to share some of my best chocolate dessert formulas. None of them require wheat flour. All of us should cut way back on gluten consumption. I try to minimize it myself for a lot of reasons, even though I love bread. It is really easy to avoid it and many recipes/formulas (the latter is how the pros refer to them) can be modified with the addition of a gluten-free flour. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand (in fact, that line has so many fabulous mixes and products. I get mine at Whole paycheck but it is available directly from Bob’s — a great company by the way — and through Amazon. I think it is also sold in some supermarkets. Our Kroger sells it in the specialty section.)
My chocolate cookies, cakes and desserts can use almond or coconut flour (when flour is required for body) instead of wheat and come out just as well. When I finally get around to it, my book of master formulas will not only be a handy reference for the basic, classics but they will all be easy to make. The way I see it, you should be able to turn out professional, delicious products in almost any small, simple kitchen. I don’t want to make anything that is very involved, requires fancy expensive ingredients (well maybe a few) or elaborate equipment. It should be simple. None of us has time unless we are hyper-rich and then we wouldn’t be doing it ourselves anyway, we’d be filling out a menu sheet each morning with breakfast in bed and sending it down to the kitchen staff. 😉
The things I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks or so (not all in a row – I don’t want to be tedious) are all dream desserts, so I will do them one at a time, because I think they deserve it.
The first of these is my absolute favorite. It is the kind of thing you can make in about 15 minutes. It is then refrigerated to firm it up, but making it is a snap.
It is simply the best chocolate mousse you will ever have unless you go to Paris and have the ones at the two famous, old Montparnasse restaurants Le Dôme or La Coupole. Both cafes are renowned for the luminaries who have frequented them over the last century and authentic French mousse, which is the dark, dense, complex kind, not the light, fluffy German variety.
This is exactly the same kind of French mousse, but with a fraction of the effort or cost.
(This is just a regular recipe format, I am too lazy right now to use percentages, grams and formulas, even though I should. It won’t matter. If you just follow these directions, it will come out perfect every single time, effortlessly, and it tastes incredible, trust me.)
Beth’s Favorite French Chocolate Mousse
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate*
- 2 tablespoons Kahlua
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
*I use Trader Joe’s chocolate chips. If you get yours at the market, use Ghirardelli. The darker chips make a more authentic dense French mousse and it will taste better. Please whatever you do, never ever use unsweetened ‘Baker’s chocolate’ . In fact if you have any, discard it. It is barely chocolate at all. If you are really into chocolate, get Guittard, Valrhona or Scharffen Berger, 55% is fine.
- Melt the chocolate in the Kahlua and orange juice over very low heat (top of double boiler is one good way to do it). Set aside.
- Pour the egg yolks and eggs through the top of a blender with vanilla and sugar.
- Blend for 2 minutes at medium high speed.
- Add the heavy cream and blend for another 30 seconds.
- Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a bowl or small individual cups (small, like 4 oz ramekins are perfect for this or little pyrex glass bowls). Don’t fill the cups or small bowls/ramekins right to the top, unless you are serving it within a couple of hours.
- Refrigerate. If you will be keeping it in the refrigerator for more than an hour, cover carefully with plastic wrap, making sure not to allow the plastic to cling to the mousse. Eat within 24 hours or wrap carefully with two layers of plastic and freeze.
This makes 3 servings. Do this twice for more servings. Don’t double the recipe.
It is quite rich, so a little goes a long way. When I make it for us (at some holiday, usually) I don’t garnish it but if you want to, lightly place one small unwashed raspberry (or a shaved twist of orange peel) in the middle of each one just before you refrigerate the cups. Another fantastic thing to do is serve it with Crème Anglaise on the side or hard sauce, but let’s not get crazy just yet. Back in the days when I entertained and used linens, china and all that stuff we often use when we are first married, I would put one candied violet in the middle of each ramekin – but that means keeping candied violets on hand!
Afternoon update: If anyone is interested in making French creams at home, which supposedly can be done, here is a website that explains the procedure. That way you can flavor it yourself and not have to put up with those in the assortment that you don’t like when you buy the expensive small box (I have had that particular and only version, I think it comes from one factory in the Midwest and then is sold in a variety of places but it is prohibitive for the few little creams you get, imho) — like the wintergreen, for me, which I end up eating anyway because I hate to discard even one (and the SO can’t stand them):
Images: kingseeds.co.nz, frenchocolate.co,lacoupole.com,foiledagainchocolate.com