MOUSSE AU CHOCOLAT

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Imagine my surprise when the mousse au chocolate that I ordered from a tiny Parisian bistro came in salad bowl with a giant ladle.  Mousse is one of those things that usually seems ultra prissy.  I always picture in a martini glass with a cookie sticking out of it, or in a personal sized something, covered in raspberries. In broken French I figured out that I was supposed to scoop out as much mousse as I wanted onto my plate, not take a bath in it scrooge McDuck style like I initially thought.  All you can eat mousse.  All you can eat anything usually ends badly, and this mousse was no different.  It was like the bottomless giant bowl was taunting me: “You can’t eat all of me. Even if you tried!”  Like Cool Hand Luke I went for it.  Whatever the mousse equivalent to 50 hard boiled eggs is, I went for it.

Each bite was glorious. Rich, creamy, and mysteriously light.  This is a dish that is all about the marriage of eggs and chocolate.  Yolks providing the foundation of the custard, the whites creating the frothy meringue, and the chocolate binding the dish together with its dark, rich flavor. I definitely over indulged myself, but I don’t regret it.

There is A LOT of whisking in this recipe, so I’d recommend doing it with an electric hand mixer.  If you want to be a badass overachiever with some cut biceps, knock yourself out.

This recipe uses raw eggs, so if you’re uncomfortable, try it with pasteurized egg whites, but make sure it’s a variety that you know you can whip into meringue (sometimes pasteurized egg white won’t whip up properly).

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INGREDIENTS

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

6 ounces unsalted butter

3 tablespoons strong coffee or espresso

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon black strap rum

1 tablespoon water

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Fill a saucepan halfway with hot water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Put a glass or metal bowl on top of the boiling water (it shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee.   Stir until smooth and remove from heat.

Fill a large bowl a quarter full with ice water and set aside.  In a large glass or metal bowl placed over the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 1/2 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and opaque, like runny a caesar dressing. Remove from heat and place the bowl of the yolk mixture in the bowl of ice water (make sure no water gets in the bowl!) and continue beating the yolk mixture until cool and thick, about 10 minutes.  Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.

Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Serving: I like to serve the chocolate mousse as it is, maybe with just a small dollop of whipped cream; it neither needs, nor wants, much adornment.

Storage: The mousse au chocolat can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.