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.

le-dome-paris

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.)

dark-chocolate

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.

coupole

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

French chocolate mousse

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Pour the egg yolks and eggs through the top of a blender with vanilla and sugar.
  3. Blend for 2 minutes at medium high speed.
  4. Add the heavy cream and blend for another 30 seconds.
  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend until smooth.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

candied violets

SCROLLWORK SPACERS

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):

http://jellypress.com/article/french_creams_and_a_little_candy_history/

Images: kingseeds.co.nz, frenchocolate.co,lacoupole.com,foiledagainchocolate.com

POST A DAY 2013

10 Comments on “Dreams in chocolate

  1. Sounds good! I have never heard of French creams, must go Google them now.

    Ice cream is my weakness. Used to be anything cake-y, but I do not bake because my husband doesn’t like sweets and I’d end up eating the whole thing myself, and gluten-free cakes are too hard to find and the pre-made ones often taste terrible. So now, it’s ice cream. I really can’t keep any in the house anymore because I will eat it all up in no time.

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    • I wonder if you would like them. The underlying attraction to me is their sugary-ness and the texture, so like maple sugar candy.

      You sound like someone for whom the creamy aspect is more key than the sugary (albeit, ice cream is sweet, of course). I like ice cream but given that it is dairy, I avoid it for health and ethical reasons. However, if you do like ice cream, it is super easy to make. I have an ice cream maker and I can produce incredible ice cream in an hour, with all the things in it that I like.

      I also love divinity, meringue and macaroons – all are sweet and chewy but not a great idea for teeth and keeping slim, both of which are super important to me. I keep my BMI below 20 and if I were to eat the sugar products I love, I would be twice my weight.

      Anyway, it is one of the happier topics in life so I enjoy thinking, talking and doing desserts! 🙂

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    • You know what, Barbara – I love chocolate and mint together. I used to love York’s Peppermint Patties, but since I could mainline them, I gave them up. I particularly like chocolate and peppermint in ice cream too. 🙂

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  2. I love French creams (and maple sugar candy- it’s a Canadian thing, we sort of have to like them). Too funny you mention cotton candy… hadn’t had it in decades, then had some as part of a fancy cocktail at a lovely restaurant a few months back (they also leave a bowl on the table to enjoy with your coffee- decadent!) and one of my partners in cottage crimes brought a bucket of the stuff to share. It was horribly nostalgic- soooo sweet. My teeth hurt just remembering!
    Will certainly have to try your mousse recipe- looks great!

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    • Oh wow! How amazing is that! It has come back around to the point that it would show up on a fancy table. I love it! I cannot eat it myself either – too much of a blood sugar spike for me. I need to judiciously allocate my indulgences, LOL. BUT, Maple Sugar is one of my true passions. I LOVE that stuff. I am from the Northeast and my grandmother grew up in Massachusetts so we have a maple tooth in our family. How I wish we could get it without paying a fortune. You are sooooo lucky to be in Canada – one of my dreams is to retire to a snowy, woodsy place and that would be high on the list :-).

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      • LOL. I’m okay with the ‘woodsy’ part and I can handle the snow for, oh, about a month, but winter REALLY is not one of my favourite things about Canada.

        Fortunately Toronto winters generally aren’t all that terrible (when there is a ridiculous amount of snow we tend to resort to calling in the National Guard for help…) but I remember all my winters in Ottawa with something VERY far from fondness. Snow is one thing- but I cannot STAND crazy-low temperatures. The cold is not my friend.

        The new crop of maple stuff is just one of the many wonderful things that come with springtime hereabouts. Visits to the sugar shacks mean that the snow is finally melting and that warmer weather is on its way. There’s nothing like real maple syrup/sugar. This is for sure.

        The restaurant is Trevor Kitchen and Bar- on Wellington across from the Gooderham Flatiron Building. Lovely, historical part of town, good food/cocktails AND cotton candy!

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  3. Pingback: My chocolate muse | Beth Byrnes

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