Lasting Impressions

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If you are cooking to impress, then dessert is your last chance to make a great impression. Nothing says elegance like French technique and no one can make French cooking as easy as Julia Child did. So from Julia Child via David Lebovitz comes this classic and easy recipe for chocolate mousse (be warned that it contains raw eggs). I cut the recipe in half since I was cooking for fewer people. Serves four to six people. Bon appétite!

3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped*
3 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened at room temperature
1/2 cup dark-brewed coffee
2 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tbsp. dark rum
1/2 tbsp. water
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

* I recommend using bittersweet chocolate if possible since it is less sweet. You don’t want the sweetness to be overwhelming. Use good quality dark chocolate in a bar. Chocolate chips are designed to resist melting, so I would avoid chips if possible.

1. Keep a large bowl two-third full of ice water standing by.

2. In a bowl set over a saucepan that is a third of the way filled with simmering water, melt the chocolate, butter and coffee together, whisking constantly until smooth. Set aside the chocolate aside.

3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer with the 1/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (You can also use a handheld electric mixer.)

3. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick as shown in the photo below. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

via David Lebovitz

4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold their shape. Then beat in the tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla until they form thick, shiny stiff peaks.

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

6. Divide the mousse into your serving dishes. This dishes you choose are an essential element to making this dessert truly elegant. I used non-stemmed martini glasses, but you can get creative. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

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