Need an escape from the long, dark days of winter? What better way to cure the winter blues than chocolate… especially from Valrhona, the French chocolat that’s the preferred brand of top pastry chefs. A new book from the École du Grand Chocolat, the prestigious school in Tain l’Hermitage (southeastern France), offers a droolworthy collection of recipes.
The beauty of a book like this isn’t just in the sigh-inducing photos, but also in the sharing of expert techniques to master the craft of chocolate-making. Melting chocolate, tempering it, classic molding, and coating…the École du Grand Chocolat Valrhona imparts insights that are key to the craft.
You’ll find classic recipes like chocolate mousse, fondue, brownies, and traditional hot chocolate, and also more complicated creations like the “Extraordinarily Chocolaty Tart”, “Chocolate Mousse and Creamy Caramel in a Spoon,” and chocolate profiteroles.
Here, we share a sample recipe that’s guaranteed to thaw even the hardest (winter-weary) heart. —Mary Winston Nicklin
Egg White—Based Chocolate Mousse
This is the chocolate mousse our grandmothers used to treat us with. Airy and rich in chocolate, it gives a sensation of gently melting in the mouth.
Weigh the chocolate according to its cocoa content:
Either 10 1/2 oz. (300 g) bittersweet chocolate, 70 percent cocoa
Or 11 2/3 oz. (330 g) bittersweet chocolate, 60 percent cocoa
Or 13 3/4 oz. (390 g) milk chocolate, 40 percent cocoa, plus 1 1/2 sheets (3 g) gelatin
Or 13 3/4 oz. (390 g) milk chocolate, 35 percent cocoa, plus 3 sheets (6 g) gelatin
Scant 2/3 cup (150 ml) whipping cream
3 (2 1/8 oz./60 g) egg yolks
6–7 (7 oz./200 g) egg whites
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz./50 g) granulated sugar
1 whisk or flexible spatula
1 immersion blender
1 kitchen thermometer
1 handheld electric beater or stand-alone mixer
Chop the chocolate and melt it slowly in a bain- marie or in the microwave oven (on “defrost” or at 500 W maximum, stirring from time to time). If you are using milk or white chocolate, soften the gelatin in very cold water. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan, then remove from the heat. Wring the water out of the gelatin, if using, and dissolve it into the cream.
Slowly pour one third of the hot cream over the melted chocolate. Using a whisk or flexible spatula, briskly mix it in with a small circular movement to create an elastic, shiny “kernel.” Then incorpo- rate another third, using the same movement, and finally, the last third, still mixing as before. Beat in the egg yolks. Process with an immersion blender to ensure that the mixture is smooth and perfectly emulsified.
In the meantime, start whisking the egg whites with the sugar with a handheld electric beater or in the bowl of a stand-alone mixer until they form soft peaks. When the chocolate mixture cools to 95°F–113°F (35°C–45°C) for white or milk choco- late, or 113°F–122°F (45°C–50°C) for bittersweet chocolate, fold in a quarter of the whisked egg whites, then carefully fold in the rest.
Pour into individual serving bowls. Chill for 12 hours.
Chef’s note: This mousse will only keep for up to 24 hours because of the raw egg yolks.
Excerpt reprinted by arrangement with Flammarion. Chocolate Master Class: Essential Recipes and Techniques, Edited by Frédéric Bau, Photographs by Clay McLachlan. 192 pages. List price is $24.95