last year's holiday fare, via Brattleboro Cooks
this year's Valentine's Day edition, rosewater fleur de sel caramels enrobed in dark chocolate
Every day is Chocolate Day in my book, & I have been happily experimenting with chocolate making for years now. I concentrate mostly on filled chocolates, since I find the myriad possibilities for flavoring ganaches to be most exciting & satisfying.
That said, I can not go to a family celebration without making a chocolate mousse for my niece, her favorite dessert in my repertoire, or to other friends' celebrations without a rich chocolate pâté, flavored with rum, a smokey whiskey or cognac & served with shortbread toasts.
And then, of course, there are chocolate truffles & filled chocolates.
my niece's favorite chocolate mousse
During the winter holidays I roll up my sleeves & make packages of 4 or 5 different flavored chocolates for friends & family. Last year's offerings included dark chocolate with our own homegrown mint ganache, another with black tea, a milk chocolate with coconut milk & spicy madras curry, & a white chocolate with saffron & honey.
In previous years Earl Grey tea ganaches, Vermont maple & cognac ganaches, chai tea ganaches, fleur de sel caramels, & Mexican coffee ganaches made with organic Mexican coffee beans, cayenne & cinnamon, as well as traditional deep, dark chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa powder, have found their way into the bellies of my favorite people.
It is important to me that I use organic, local butter & cream for the ganaches, as well as organic ingredients to flavor them, using homegrown & local whenever possible. The most important ingredient, of course, is the chocolate, & I use the finest I can find in my immediate area, such as Valhrona & El Rey, for the couverture.
I was thrilled when a fabulous woman, Jennifer, profiled me on her local cooking blog, which features a wide variety of fantastic foods made by local talent, including my favorite recipe for chocolate mousse. Her impressive daughter contributed a recipe for scrumptious chocolate mint brownies, definitely worth checking out for your Chocolate Day celebrations!
Voilá, xxx dark chocolate mousse:
3 oz. semisweet chocolate
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbsp. cognac or your liqueur of choice
2 Tbsp. brewed coffee
1 cup whipping cream
Separate the eggs and set aside.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt chocolate with the brandy and coffee in a double boiler over low heat until it is smooth, glossy, and lump-free. Remove from heat and whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate.
Whip the cream until it holds a soft shape.
Heat the egg whites until they are barely warm by swirling the bowl above a burner/gas flame. Beat them until they hold soft peaks. Stir about a quarter of them into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest. Fold in the whipped cream.
Pour into individual serving bowls, or into a large serving bowl. Chill and serve with fresh whipped cream, cookies and/or fruit.
adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere