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      RECIPE TITLE "La Maison du Chocolat's Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse"
    recipe excerpted from The Paris Cookbook Copyright © by Patricia Wells.

    ... more great recipes from Patricia Wells on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    yields8 Servingstime--- difficulty moderate

    When I first moved to Paris in 1980, one of my biggest treats was to walk to the end of my street and wander into La Maison du Chocolat for a mid-afternoon chocolate fix. Owner Robert Linxe remains one of the city's paramount chocolatiers, always offering quality, creativity, and excellence. He kindly shared this exquisite chocolate mousse: It is light, rich with chocolate flavor, and as voluptuous as one could ever imagine.

      RECIPE INGREDIENTS

    1/2 cup heavy cream
    7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (preferably Lindt Excellence 70% or Valhrona guanaja 70%) broken into pieces (see Note)
    3 tablespons unsalted butter
    2 large egg yolks
    5 large egg whites
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
    1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Equipment: A double boiler; a heavy-duty mixer

      RECIPE METHOD

    1. In the top of a double boiler set over, but not touching, boiling water, heat the cream just until warm, about 1 minute. Add the chocolate pieces, and stir until the chocolate is melted. Add the butter and stir to melt and combine. Remove from the heat. One by one, whisk in the egg yolks. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and set it aside to cool.
    2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk. Whisk at low speed until the whites are frothy. Gradually increase the speed to high. Slowly add the sugar, cocoa, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Whisk at high speed until stiff but not dry.
    3. Stir one third of the egg white mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture, and whisk until the two are thoroughly blended. (This will lighten the batter and make it easier to fold in the remaining egg white mixture.) With a large spatula, gently fold in the remaining white mixture. Do this slowly and patiently. Do not overmix, but be sure that the mixture is well blended and that no streaks of white remain.
    4. Pour the mousse into a large glass bowl, eight individual ramekins, or eight pot de crème cups. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Serve within a few hours.

    Variations:

    * Add about 1/2 vanilla bean, finely ground, to the chocolate. Do not add too much, or the vanilla will make the chocolate taste too sweet.
    * Add 1 small cup of very strong coffee, along with the grated zest of 1 orange or 1 lemon, to the cream when you heat it.
    * Add 1 teaspoon finely ground ginger to the warm cream. Let the mixture cool, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

    Note: Semisweet and bittersweet chocolate can be used interchangeably, and are made of chocolate, cocoa butter, and a bit of sugar to make the chocolate more palatable. Unsweetened chocolate contains no sugar at all and is considered less palatable.

    Robert Linxe says:

    * "The amount of egg whites makes this a very light mousse."
    * "Don't put the mousse in the refrigerator, but in a cool spot. The cold will block the flavor of the chocolate and it will lose its smooth, creamy quality."
    * "For a truly rich mousse, use an extra-bitter chocolate -- Van Couva from Trinidad, the best chocolate in the world."

    Chocolate is delicious with one of France's newly popular vins doux naturels, such as Boissy-Masson's Rancio, full of body with a nuttiness that pairs well with the richness of chocolate.

    The Paris Cookbook. Copyright © by Patricia Wells.



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