Chocolate Mousse with Toasted Meringue

chocolate mousse Pretty Simple Cooking (4 of 4)

My friends Sonja and Alex, otherwise known as the parents of the most adorable little boy, Larson (and some may know them for their excellent blog a couple cooks), just sent me their new cookbook. As I flipped through all the gorgeous recipes, I was stopped in my tracks by a picture of chocolate mousse topped with meringue. For anyone who follows me on Instagram, you know I am a huge fan of the ethereal sweet topping; whipped up pretty and then lit on fire with a blow torch. I always knew I liked these two and their recipes, but it turns out that Alex also has a thing for blow torches, so they just got even cooler IMHO.  This is a super simple and quick chocolate mousse recipe you can whip up at the last minute for Valentine’s Day and your sweetheart will never know it just took a few minutes to make. The bit of crunch in the middle is just brilliant and adds that contrast of texture that makes for a great dessert. They’ve generously agreed to share the recipe, but you should all go out and find their book, Pretty Simple Cooking!

chocolate mousse Pretty Simple Cooking (2 of 4)

Chocolate Mousse with Toasted Meringue by Sonja and Alex’s book A Couple Cooks – Pretty Simple Cooking: 100 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes to Make You Fall in Love with Real Food

1 cup (130g) semisweet chocolate chips, divided (I only had milk chocolate, so I chopped it fine and went about making the recipe and it was still delightful)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup roasted salted almonds (I didn’t have these either, so I put 1/2 teaspoon olive oil on 1/2 cup whole almonds, then sprinkled them with salt and baked them at 350°F for about 10 minutes) – you can see me make them in my Instagram story/highlights @zoebakes.

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

To make the mousse:

You can watch me make the full recipe in my Instagram story/highlights called “chocolate mousse”

Melt 3/4 of the chocolate over a double boiler.

Whip the cream to soft peaks, or just until it is thickening and you can see the marks from the beater running through it. If you whip it too much the mousse will lose it’s luscious texture. Add the chocolate and continue to mix until it is thick. (If you’ve had issues with the chocolate seizing as you Gently fold 1/3 of cream into the chocolate, then repeat with another 1/3 and then the rest. Fill cups, I did 4 servings, but they recommend 6. Refrigerate for about an hour or longer before serving.

Once the mousse is chilled, crush the almonds and scatter them with the remaining chopped chocolate over the mousse.

Make the Swiss meringue. You can watch me do this in my instagram video “101 meringue” or here is a post on making it, click here!

Melt egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar in the bowl to a stand mixer over a double boiler, until there is no graininess left. Place on a stand mixer with whip attachment and beat on high until they form stiff peaks.

Pipe over the nuts and chocolate.

chocolate mousse Pretty Simple Cooking (3 of 4)

Use a kitchen Blow Torch to toast the meringue. They can be made several hours ahead of time.

chocolate mousse Pretty Simple Cooking (1 of 4)

Thanks to Sonja and Alex for sharing the recipe from Pretty Simple Cooking!

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Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cake!

heart cake | Breadin5 (2 of 5)

This cake was designed by my 9 year old son (who is now 18). He even instructed me on how I should put it together. His plan was to bake a sheet of cake and cut the layers with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Then stack them together with raspberry cream and pour a glossy chocolate ganache over the top. I know I’m biased, but I think he is brilliant.

Happy Valentines to my two sons, Henri and Charlie, and my husband Graham. My 3 muses.

Here is Henri’s vision, I must say it is as delicious as it is pretty. (more…)

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One of the reasons I went to culinary school, after working in professional kitchens for a few years, was to have an understanding of why my recipes didn’t always work. Things would succeed if I followed the recipe to the letter, but if I played or strayed at all they would have as much chance of being a disaster as they did a winner. In culinary school I learned enough about food science to be able to play with recipes or create my own from scratch. I learned why eggs should be warm when you whip them and why you should use low protein flours for cakes and higher ones for breads. They taught me about Brix, Baume and other technical ways to measure sugar in sorbet solutions so they will freeze, but not become a solid brick of ice. After school, once I could afford it, I bought a Refractometer, which shows you the sugar content in a solution. This way I can mix up a batch of any kind of fruit sorbet, add some simple syrup and the sorbet will be a success. But, what if you are just making sorbet a couple times a year, do you really need such a geeky, expensive gadget? Not unless you are a kitchen equipment hoarder, like me.

So, then what? There is another way to have a greater chance at success than just praying for the best. You can use a method that involves floating an egg in your sorbet. Yep, I said FLOATING AN EGG, the whole thing, in the shell. It is also a very cool experiment to do with your kids. As the solution gets more saturated with sugar, the egg is buoyed to the surface. Once the egg is actually floating partially above the surface, the solution has enough sugar to prevent the sorbet from being too icy. Perhaps not as impressive as whipping out your refractometer, but pretty amazing in a Beakman’s World kind of way and it allows you to make sorbet from just about any juice. Obviously, this will not work with all fruits, banana puree tends to be too thick and the egg, no matter how sweet the solution, will float on the surface. But, for citrus and other thin juices, it is wonderful. (more…)

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banana roll cake Smitten Kitchen (5 of 5)

There’s nothing more satisfying than cutting into a rolled cake to reveal the swirl in the middle. It’s just fun. This banana bread roll is filled with a cream cheese frosting and it is delicious. The recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers and cookbook authors, Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen (as if she needs introducing). In her new book Smitten Kitchen Every Day she dusts the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar and it’s perfectly elegant. I decided to use meringue, because I just did a video series on Instagram about the 3 types of meringues, so I’m a little obsessed with it right now and figured this cake would be super fun topped with a Phyllis Diller-esque hairdo. You can watch me make this cake (and many other recipes) on Instagram in my stories (they will also live in my “highlights” archive). I’ve been teaching baking and pastry for 20 years (wow, just added that up!) and I love the new challenge of fitting these recipe lessons into 15 second segments. If you haven’t checked them out, I hope you will, I’m having a ball creating them.

Deb was kind enough to allow me to share her Banana Bread Roll recipe with you here. I highly recommend her book for other desserts and her always amazing savory recipes. (more…)

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banana pudding (2 of 5)

This quintessential southern dessert is found on the back of the box of Nilla wafers. You can certainly use Nilla brand wafers for this and there will be no judgment and it will taste just like you remember when you ate it as a kid. OR you can make your own vanilla wafer cookies and be so glad you did. They are super easy and fast to make and they don’t have any of that cardboard box flavor overtones. Wait, did that just come across as judgy? Either way you are going to love this recipe. I was inspired to make it after an old friend from high school (that’s a very old friend) made it for New Years Eve and posted pictures on Instagram. I found the Nilla wafer recipe in the BraveTart cookbook by Stella Parks.

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Oh, Fudge!

Chocolate Fudge (1 of 7)

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This recipe is made by boiling down evaporated milk until it reaches just the right temperature and poured over really great chocolate. No marshmallow fluff! I’ve done those recipes as well, but I like the texture of this better and the flavor is more intense and not as cloying. It requires a candy thermometer, but don’t let that scare you, it is really very simple and I’ll talk you through any possible sticking points. (more…)

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