A Valentine to Chocolate

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Let’s Celebrate National Chocolate Mousse Day!

November 30th is National Chocolate Mousse Day.  After being introduced to chocolate by the Spanish, French chefs have been cooking with chocolate since the early 17th century. Mousse, which means “foam”, originated in France in the 18th century. It was only a matter of time until cooking with chocolate and making dishes with foamy textures came together for “mousse au chocolat.”

The first written record of chocolate mousse in the United States comes from a Food Exposition held at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1892. A “Housekeeper’s Column” in the Boston Daily Globe of 1897 published one of the first recipes for chocolate mousse. The recipe yielded a chocolate pudding-type dish, instead of today’s stiff, but fluffy, mousse.

Everybody seems to have their own ideas when it comes to adding flavorings and even toppings, but the main ingredients in a chocolate mousse rarely change: chocolate, egg whites, and sugar. Some recipes also call for cream, butter and/or egg yolks. While some of us extreme-chocolatiers prefer the taste of the chocolate shining through the mousse, the addition of some liqueurs is also absolutely divine.

Okay, it’s not Valentine’s Day yet, but we think any day can be a love letter to chocolate. So we offer a pure comfort food mousse featuring white and dark chocolate with a touch of one of our guilty pleasures, Oreos.  This is a frozen mousse recipe.  Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, this recipe from 2000 is a great homage to mousse AND chocolate.  Be patient, this is an involved recipe, but worth the time and effort.

 Oreo Cookie and White Chocolate Mousse Pie with Macerated Strawberries


Ingredients

2 cups Oreo or other chocolate cookie crumbs

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 cups half-and-half

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split in half

6 egg yolks

2 dozen Oreo cookies or other chocolate sandwich cookies

2 cups whole strawberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 pound white chocolate, melted

1 cup chocolate sauce, room temperature (in a squeeze bottle), recipe follows

Oreo cookies, for garnish

Sprigs fresh mint


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and butter. Mix well. Press firmly into the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake until firm to the touch, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Fill half of saucepan with water, place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a small stainless steel mixing bowl. Place over the saucepan and melt until smooth, stirring occasionally.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla bean with pulp. Bring to a simmer.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Add 1 cup of the hot liquid to the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Add the yolk mixture to the saucepan of liquid and whisk until incorporated. Bring the liquid back to simmer and continue to cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the melted chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture. This will prevent a skin from forming while cooling.

Cool the mixture completely. Process the mixture according the ice cream machine’s instructions. Break the cookies into small pieces. During the last couple of minutes of churning, fold in the cookie pieces. Remove the ice cream and spread evenly over the prepared crust.

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard. In a bowl, combine the strawberries and the sugar and mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, combine the cream and white chocolate. Whip until medium stiff peaks form.

Remove the pie from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Run a sharp knife around the sides of the pan. Remove the spring-form. Spread the white chocolate mixture over the top of the pie. Slice the pie into individual servings. Place a piece in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the strawberries next to the pie. Garnish with a drizzle of the chocolate sauce, cookies and fresh mint.

Makes 12 servings

photo courtesy of foodnetwork.com

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