I am definitely feeling the holiday season this year. Chocolate, peppermint, chocolate, orange and cranberry, chocolate, gingerbread, chocolate. Yum, yum, yum. The flavors and scents this time of year are so wonderful, so decadent, so warm and cozy. Starting on December 1st every year, I can usually be found consuming pounds and pounds of candy canes. I eat just enough each December to get sick of them for an entire year.
One of the things I love best about this time of year is how everyone’s rules go out the window. We indulge, we treat. People who count carbs all year eat crusty French bread and cake, sugar abstainers drown in chocolates and treats, fat-free followers smother their foods in butter. After 11 months of bills and work and struggles and stressors, we give ourselves 31 days of “whatever we want”. Being a firm believer in indulging in the things you enjoy, I love that once a year everyone else follows suit.
So, indulgences. Is there anything more luxurious, more decadent, more indulgent than chocolate mousse? I don’t think so.
So smooth, so fluffy and light. My mom, upon trying this dessert, declared it her favorite that I’ve made. I may have to agree. It is an absolutely perfect recipe. I used Robert Irvine’s recipe for the mousse, and I have to say it is definitely one I will use again.
In trying to find a good chocolate mousse recipe, I came across a lot that went something like this: melt chocolate, beat heavy cream, combine, refrigerate. Sounds good, but definitely NOT mousse. True mousse should have the following elements to it: an egg yolk custard for body and smoothness, whipped egg whites for that airy “mousse” texture, melted chocolate for flavor, and whipped cream for softness. The egg elements are so important; it’s what elevates the dessert from chocolate whipped cream to actual, real mousse.
See that texture? That’s exactly what you’re looking for. The mousse should hold it’s shape as you scoop into it, with an airy, soft center. It is so wonderful. I also added a touch of peppermint extract to the mousse, just for a hint of mint.
But I didn’t stop there. The mousse by itself didn’t feel quite finished. It needed something extra: meringues.
I adore meringues. The crunchy, crispy texture with the marshmallow-like taste. They are usually baked in drops, like large Hershey’s kisses, but I felt the flat pinwheels would be best suited to the mousse. Thin and light and a perfect compliment to the rich chocolate mousse. I crushed candy canes very fine to a powder and add them to the meringue mix. There were a couple of candy cane pieces in the meringues that added a little extra candy crunch to the cookie treats. I also added some extra red food coloring, folded in loosely so there is a subtle swirl pattern in the meringues.
By the way, my oh-so mature and sophisticated husband pointed out that the mousse swirled into the dishes looked like, ahem, poo. Thank you as always my love for your tact and eloquence. He did thoroughly enjoy it, though, despite calling it “mousse poop” all night.
Well, questionable presentation or not, this is a delicious and holiday appropriate dessert. It’s excellent for holiday party, because you can make both desserts in advance for time management. Insanely good and perfect for your December indulgence. So tell me, what’s your favorite holiday treat? THG
Chocolate Peppermint Mousse
Adapted from Robert Irvine’s recipe here
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup sugar, divided
In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and peppermint extract until stiff. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth with no lumps. Set aside to cool.
In a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl set over the simmering water in the double boiler, beat the egg yolks, water and 1/8 cup of sugar until it reaches 145ºF on a candy thermometer. Transfer to mixer and whip until cool, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl set over the simmering water in the double boiler, heat the egg whites and remaining sugar until it reaches 145ºF. Remove from heat and beat with the mixer to very stiff peaks.
Fold whipped egg whites into yolks until completely incorporated. Fold in chocolate until completely incorporated, then fold in whipped cream until just mixed. Pipe into serving dishes. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. Serve chilled with crushed candy cane pieces and meringues.
Candy Cane Meringue Pinwheels
3 regular-size peppermint candy canes, crushed (about 1/4 cup)
3 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup superfine sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
red gel food coloring
Preheat oven to 175ºF.
In a double boiler, whisk candy cane, egg whites and sugar until candy canes and sugar melt, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a mixer with a whisk attachment. Add cream of tartar. Whip egg white mixture until very stiff peaks form and mixture is smooth and glossy. Add in food coloring and loosely fold until color is ribboned through mixture (do not over mix).
Add mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2” round tip. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pipe pinwheels, starting in the center and going closely around until about 1 1/2-2” in diameter. Bake meringues for 2-2 1/2 hours, until firm crust has formed on top. Transfer to cooling rack until completely cooled.
Makes approximately 30 meringue pinwheels