the baker behind
this Classic Recipe
More often than not, when Andrew is baking I am dumbstruck by the effort he takes. One recent project involved making three different cupcakes, getting up at 7:30 to do so and finishing the last of the icing with just enough time to hop in the car at 5:30 and take them to the party he made them for. Phew. But it’s not just the time, it’s the almost scientific way in which his desserts come together. As a savory cook, my cooking times seem so much more fluid. You can compensate for all kinds of kitchen screw-ups. But when Andrew bakes, he does so with almost military precision. So as I was in the second hour of cooking dinner recently, I was amazed to hear him say he’d decided he wanted to make a Classic Chocolate Mousse for dessert. How earth could he do that? With a little help from a third generation baker named John Barricelli.
How’s this for a resume? Graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Worked at New York’s River Café, Eric Ripert’s Four Star Le Bernardin, and at the Four Seasons Restaurant. Owned and ran Cousin John’s Café and Bakery in Brooklyn for 10 years. Worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia where he became a featured chef on Everyday Food and then hosted its spinoff Everyday Baking. In between, he opened the SoNo Baking Company and Café in South Norwalk CT. And of course, wrote its eponymous cookbook subtitled “The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for every occasion” (Clarkson Potter 2010.) Perhaps bakers just have more energy than the rest of the general population. And by the way, Chef Barricelli looks none the worse for wear.
Chef Barricelli gives full credit for the Chocolate Mousse recipe to his mentor Rick Steffan. He calls it the lightest, most intensely flavored chocolate mousse ever. The two chefs were then working at Le Colombe d’Or in New York where they’d serve the mousse in Martini glasses topped with chocolate shavings. Fortunately, Andrew put the dessert in our wonderful Apilco soup bowls where I am sure there was much more mousse than you could fit into a martini glass. I would call it the most deeply satisfying chocolate anything I have eaten in a very long time. The bittersweet chocolate makes it rich without being overly sweet. It’s a true chocolate lovers’ delight. And dare I say it: not difficult to make as it only uses 5 ingredients in total and the total cooking time is well under 15 minutes. The only real time involved here is the chilling time of at least two hours. Two of the longest hours you will ever spend once you’ve tasted this dessert for the first time. Here’s the recipe. And Andrew, anytime you want to make it again, it will be well worth the wait.
Yield: 4 servings
5 Ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 Large eggs, separated
3 Tablespoons sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
1 Cup heavy cream
Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.
Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in the bottom pan of a double boiler. While the water is coming to a boil, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and salt in the top pan of the double boiler. Set the pan with the egg yolk mixture over (not in) the simmering water and whisk until warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Next, place the chocolate over the simmering water and heat until melted.
Beat the egg yolk mixture until it is slightly thickened and paler yellow, and forms a ribbon when the whisk is lifted from the bowl, about 3 minutes.
Remove the mixer bowl from the stand. Add the warm melted chocolate and whisk by hand until smooth. Add the egg whites and wish until smooth. With a rubber spatula, scrape the chocolate mixture back into the bowl in which you melted the chocolate and set aside.
Wash and dry the mixer bowl. Pour the cream into the mixer bowl and beat with the whisk attachment until medium peaks form. Save enough of the whipped cream to top the mousse in its bowls.
Fold into the chocolate mixture until there are no visible streaks of white.
Then spoon into one large or four individual serving bowls. Top with whipped cream and chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours. Serve.