23 December 2011

Kitchen Disasters, Part I (Chocolate Mousse)

This story starts with the Amish.  This is the story of how they ruined Christmas.

Well, that might be pointing fingers a bit.  I might be partially to blame.  It all started at my last shopping trip to the Amish Store, aka the place where magic happens.  The Amish sell discounted goods, and that makes it easy to stock up on whatever wonders they offer this week.  And last week, they offered some nice Ghirardelli dark 100% cacao chocolate.  Being a dark chocolate lover, and an idiot, I bought some.  I went for a bar of it after dinner, and cringed.  Unsweetened.  This is not eating chocolate.  This is baking chocolate.

Luckily, this chocolate came with some recipes, so not all was lost.  Let's start out with the recipe this time, and then we can dig into where things went awry.

4 large egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. whipping cream
1 1/2 bars (6 oz) Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bars, chopped

1.  Beat egg yolks in a small bowl on high speed until thick and lemon colored, about 3 min.  Gradually add sugar.

2. Heat one cup of whipping cream in saucepan over medium heat just until hot (do not boil).  Gradually stir half the cream into the egg yolk mixture then combine back into hot cream saucepan.  Cook over low heat about five minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is blended and thickens.

3.  Let cool ten minutes, then add chocolate and stir until thick.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until just chilled.

4.  Beat remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream in chilled medium bowl on high until stiff.  Mix 3/4 c.  of the whipping cream into chocolate mixture until blended.  Fold remaining whipping cream gradually into chocolate mixture until well blended.

5.  Spoon mixture into dessert bowls.  Refrigerate any remaining dessert.

Okay, so not as straightforward as your average recipe, but definitely doable.  No baking required!  I started by chopping my chocolate bars.  I think this is where I first went wrong.
Then I beat the egg yolks.  I saved aside the whites, because egg whites can do awesome things, and google told me that I can freeze the yolks and they will STILL do awesome things.  Waste not, want not.  The whites were put in the fridge.
Look at how pretty and lemon-colored my yolks and sugar are!  And then, I combined them with the cream in the saucepan.  I think this is another place I went wrong.  "Hot" is a pretty subjective term.  The cream was "hot," but I think it should have been hotter.  My next cream recipe put it well - not boiling, but just starting to bubble at the edges.
And then I added the chocolate.  It never quite melted all the way, so this mousse had texture and it wasn't so great.  Noted:  "chopped" chocolate is a dangerous game to play.  Grated chocolate is a safe bet.
How can you screw up whipping the cream?  Well, if maybe you only bought two cups of whipping cream, not 2 1/2...
So while it mixed in okay, between how much I heat the cream and how much stiff cream I used, the mousse never set.  It was pretty runny.  It tasted delicious, sure, but I still count this as a disaster.  I got to use my pretty new IKEA bowl though!

Alright, so that was the story, Part I.  Stay tuned for Part II, which was a far bigger disaster.

And everyone have a merry Christmas!  I'll be taking a break until after the holiday.

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