Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chocolate and Pear Mousse Pie

April must be chocolate month!! Or may be I am just craving it!

For Easter, we got together with our gang plus a guest from France, Marine! She is here to learn English, but if that fails, she will at least have learned that American can cook!

Back to our Easter dinner at Peggy and John's. There was no shortage of food! Appetizers, Ham, Leg of Lamb, three vegetables and lots of chocolate desserts!

Julie made delicious cupcakes (inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe), Peggy made a Tiramisu and I brought a Chocolate and Pear Mousse Pie.

Chocolate and Pear Mousse Pie

200 grams Graham Crackers, crumbled
80 grams butter (7 Tbsp), melted

Chocolate "Fondant":
200 grams bittersweet chocolate (8oz)
50 grams butter (6 1/2 Tbsp)
2 egg yolks
35 grams confectioner's sugar
25 cl whipping cream, very cold

Pear Mousse:
35 cl whipping cream, very cold
300 grams pear purée
100 grams confectioner's sugar
8 grams gelatin (4 sheets of 2g) - I used powdered gelatin all through the recipe.

Pear "Gelée":
250 grams pear purée
60 grams confectioner's sugar
3 grams gelatin


Make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Mix the butter and the Graham Cracker's crumbs together in a bowl. Mix well and transfer to the bottom of a spring form pan. Press the crumb tightly to form a crust.
Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Turn the oven off.

Make the Fondant:
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a medium saucepan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Combine both mixtures with a hand whisk.
Whisk the cream until peaks form, not too stiff (you are making a "Chantilly").
Incorporate the whipped cream to the chocolate delicately. Pour the mixture into the spring form pan, on top of the crust.
Refrigerate for one hour.

Make the Pear Purée:
Peal and core the pears. Pulse in food processor until pureed.
With an electric mixer, whisk the cream with the sugar, until peaks form. (again a Chantilly)
Heat 100 grams of the pear puree and add the gelatin . Mix well to dissolve the gelatin. Add to the rest of the purée.
Add the Chantilly to the pears, delicately.
Pour into the pan, on top of the chocolate.

Prepare the Gelée:
Dissolve the gelatin in 100 grams of heated pear purée.
Add the remaining pears and the sugar, Mix well.
Let cool without refrigerating.
Pour into the pan, on top of the pear mousse.
*** Better less gelatin than too much for the gelee. ***

Refrigerate the dessert overnight.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chocolate Strawberry Mousse

Last weekend the usual suspects came to our home for dinner!! It is always nice to be able to just hang out around good food and good company!
Nicole had made an incredible Lobster Salad, which was followed by an Osso Bucco (should be made at least a day ahead so that the meat has time to tenderize) and Grilled Polenta Triangles, one of Peggy's famous salads, and a Choco-Stawberry mousse dessert!

Here is the dessert:

Choco-Strawberry Mousse

2 cups whipping cream, very cold
10 oz bittersweet chocolate

20 oz frozen strawberries, thawed - or fresh when available
2 cups whipping cream, very cold
1 tsp gelatin

Prepare the chocolate mousse:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, whip the cream until firm, but still soft (do not over beat it).
In a bowl, melt the chocolate on top of a double boiler.
When melted, add to the whipped cream and mix well.
Set aside.

Prepare the strawberry mousse:
In a mixer, pulse the strawberries into a puree. Strain to get rid of the seeds. Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a quick boil. Take about 2 Tbsp of the hot strawberry puree and add the gelatin. Add it to the rest of the puree and mix well.
Add the strawberries to the whipped cream and mix well.

In Martini glasses, or any other large glasses, pipe the chocolate mousse up to about a third of the glass. Then spoon the strawberry mousse on top, and finish with another layer of chocolate.
You can decorate with a chocolate dipped strawberry.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Julie's Chocolate Birthday Cake

Last week was my birthday...On April Fools Day to be exact!

And it really doesn't matter what country I travel to... every one of them celebrates April 1st with jokes!!

The origins of April Fools day are quite obscure. But the consensus seems to be that the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1582 started all the jokes. In France particularly, since King Charles IX changed the first day of the year from April 1st to January 1st. People who refused or could not remember the new first day of the year were called April Fools.

But enough about history. Let's talk cake!! Birthday Cake!!!
Last year my daughter Julie made a cake so delicious that I asked for it again this year! There is no flour but plenty of chocolate!!!

Julie's Chocolate Birthday Cake

3 Tbsp Butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, at least 64%
6 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Butter bottom and sides of a spring form pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter it.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg yolks, half the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the salt and beat for another minute. Add the vanilla extract and the chocolate butter mixture and beat for another minute.

In another bowl, with the whisk of the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture, taking care not to deflate the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40minutes, until set.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. The cake will deflate...this is normal!!!!!

Transfer to a serving plate: remove the sides of the pan and slide the cake off the bottom, carefully. Try to remove the parchment paper with the help of a spatula.

You can try and make a sauce to go with it, either chocolate, raspberry or a vanilla custard. It is also delicious as is!

Chocolate sauce:

3 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 Tbsp butter, salted
1/3 heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl.

Bring the cream and sugar to a boil. Pour over the chocolate and butter and let melt without mixing. After a few minutes, whet the chocolate has melted, whisk well and serve with t he cake, either warm ot at room temperature.