I have a joke about dessert menus. Not really a joke, more of an observation that is usually met with tacit, polite laughter. When a menu has a chocolate option and a doughnut option, and then a fruit option, there’s no way they actually make the fruit option. They have it on the menu to round it out, but no one orders it. I mean, there’s a chocolate thing and a doughnut thing – who’s getting the lemon, blueberry, whatever thing? And if someone does order it, they can always just say it ran out.
For me, chocolate is the always “must order” on a menu, followed by deep fried dough. And it’s hard to get more chocolatly than this satin-like mousse, topped with a cloud of whipped cream and crunchy shards of toffee. It’s all the textures and flavors at once. Plus, the mouse holds for a week in your fridge, and the toffee is practically indefinite – so you can have dessert ready for you dinner party days ahead of time if you want.
10 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
3 large egg whites
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Toffee crunch, for garnish
Chopped chocolate, for garnish
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons baking sugar
Combine the chocolate, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
In the saucepan, bring the cream just to a simmer over medium heat. Pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate and stir until you have a smooth and glossy texture, about 2 minutes. Cool completely.
In the bowl of the mixer, whisk the egg whites at the highest speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk at the highest speed until shiny and stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes more. The mixture should be airy, glossy, and stiff like a meringue.
Add about 1/4 of the egg white mixture to the cooled chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold gently until it’s all one color and texture. Fold in the rest of the meringue until just incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week. To serve, whip the cream and baker’s sugar to soft peaks, and top a scoop of mousse with cream and toffee shards.
INGREDIENTS (TOFFEE CRUNCH):
1 cup white sugar
First make the toffee crunch. Pour the sugar into a clean, dry medium sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring only every so often with a wooden spoon, until the sugar melts and turns a dark amber color, at 300F. Immediately pour the caramelized sugar onto a greased rimmed baking sheet. To grease, I just sprayed the baking sheet with a bit of canola oil. Let the caramelized sugar cool completely, it should become brittle. Once cool and brittle, break the toffee into large pieces, put them in a plastic bag, and bash the bag until finer shards form. Set aside.