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Simplest Chocolate Mouse from James Peterson

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James Peterson calls this the Simplest Chocolate Mousse. No use kidding ourselves. The instructions below are direct but they may not strike you as simple. The truth is that grand mousse has those essential steps that you cannot avoid. Now, Peterson has streamlined the process, made it very clear, and presented you with a pathway that will give you something smooth, chocolate to the core, tender, delightful.

It’s worth every twist of the whisk.

 

Simplest Chocolate Mouse

Yield: 6 portions

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs, allowed to come to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons water or strong coffee
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac, Grand Marnier, marc, kirsch, or any favorite brandy or liqueur (if you don’t want to include this, add 1 more tablespoon of water or coffee to the 2 tablespoons given above)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional if you’re using a brandy or liqueur)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 ounces of the best bittersweet chocolate you can find, chopped coarse
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (unless you’re beating the egg whites in a copper bowl)

 

Preparation:

Separate the eggs, reserve the whites, and combine 4 of the egg yolks in a medium-size heat-proof mixing bowl (stainless steel is ideal) with the water, Cognac, vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. (Save the extra 2 egg yolks for something else or throw them out.) Set the bowl on top of a small saucepan of simmering water, but don’t let the bowl touch the water. Whisk the egg mixture until you begin to see the bottom of the bowl. Be sure you keep the whisk moving over the whole surface of the bowl or the eggs will overheat in those spots not touched by the whisk, and they’ll curdle. Take the bowl off the saucepan, immediately add the chocolate and butter and whisk until the mixture is smooth. If necessary, return the bowl to the saucepan of hot water to fully incorporate the ingredients.

Combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a mixing bowl (if you’re using a copper bowl, skip the cream of tartar). Beat the whites with a whisk (or the whisk attachment on an electric mixer) until the whites are fluffy and have formed soft peaks, 4 to 7 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until the whites are smooth and stiff, 2 to 3 minutes more, depending on whether you’re beating by hand or with the electric mixer. To make sure you’ve beaten them enough, hold the whisk above the bowl. The whites should form a point that sticks straight out and doesn’t sag.

Whisk about one-fourth of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture until the mixture is smooth and you see no traces of white. (This is to lighten the mixture so it will fold more evenly into the chocolate mixture.) Pour this chocolate mixture over the beaten whites and fold together by cutting into the mixture with a plastic spatula, sliding the spatula along the bottom of the bowl (where the chocolate settles), and folding the chocolate over the whites. When the mousse is well combined, with no streaks of egg white, scoop it out into a large, pretty serving bowl or into individual bowls or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap down so that it touches the surface of the mousse (otherwise a dark film will form). Chill the mousse in the refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours. Mousse will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days.

 

Source: Glorious French Food by James Peterson

 

 

 

 

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Coconut Joys

Editted 2013_02_03_0483

 

I have a new proof for the existence of God. It would take such superior designer to come up [and conceal] two very distinct but two very complex nut foods. Foods that are encased so deeply you cannot believe how people ever figured out to use them.

There is coconut, of course. And then there are the cacao pods which are transformed into chocolate only through a series of steps that impossible to have ever been devised. But thanks, perhaps to a gracious God, they were revealed. There are no chocolate atheists.

The combination of coconut and chocolate can be sublime. What better vehicle to transport those flavors to you than a perfect French meringue. I do mean perfect.

As soon as Suzen saw the title, Coconut Joys, she was onto this recipe. Surprisingly, I was entrusted with making them. And this only because in the brilliant new book Meringue by Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner there is the technique for perfect meringues.

You’ll want to use very, very fresh coconut flavor here. So, that half-used package of coconut from last spring that is sitting on your shelf? Use it for the photo. That’s what I did.

Instead of using full-sized chocolate chips, the use of mini-chips here reinforces the daintiness of the cookies.

These are easy to make — 15 minutes. And long to bake — 3 ½ hours in your oven. It’s a weekend treat. One you could use, say, to teach your children to be patient. [Or yourself.]

One thing about meringues. If it is raining out, don’t even think about it. Humidity is the mortal enemy of meringue, so wait for sunshine.

Coconut Joys

Yield: about 40 small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped almonds, optional

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 200°F. [Yes, 200°F]

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar, increasing speed to medium-high until soft peaks form. Add superfine sugar and then powdered sugar, about a tablespoon at a time. With a rubber spatula, very gently scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl because the powdered sugar is so lightweight it will fly up and stick to the sides of the bowl. Continue beating on high until peaks are stiff and glossy. Reduce to low and add vanilla, coconut, chocolate chips, and almonds; beat until combined.

Drop by well-rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 90 minutes. Turn oven off and cool meringues in closed oven for 2 hours or until dry to the touch.

Cool completely before removing from baking sheets. Store in an airtight container.

 

Source: Meringue by Linda Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner