I’m honored to be guest posting at Jana’s blog Zuckerbaeckerei once again this year as part of her blog’s advent calendar. My post will be available at her blog, in German, on December 10th.
After some deliberation about what to make for this post, I decided on Chartreuse Panna Cottas with a chocolate mousse. It is a dessert that has already graced our dinner table numerous times this year, and though it may sound deceivingly elaborate, it is actually quite simple to make.
Chartreuse has a unique flavor. It is a slightly spicy liqueur with herbal undertones, and upon tasting it, no obvious flavor combinations come to mind. It was my father who discovered, at the start of this year, how harmoniously its flavor melds with chocolate. When paired together, each flavor is no longer distinct —the warm roundness of the chocolate flavor blends with the savory element of the Chartreuse to form a base over which the liqueur’s herbal tinges dance. It’s an exotic-tasting combination.
I decided to incorporate the chocolate component of the flavor pairing in the form of a mousse. The mousse is airy and rich all at once, and offers a pleasant textural contrast to the creamy Panna Cotta. It has only two main ingredients and can be made in less than fifteen minutes.
However, I did run into some mishaps, while making it for the first time, that are worth warning you about. The melted chocolate will likely seize when the egg yolks are added to it. The mixture may then become stiff and cool, and will be hard to fold into the mousse. Though the little chunks of chocolate peppered throughout the mousse are not unpleasant, they can be avoided by simply keeping the chocolate-egg yolk mixture supple over low heat.
Makes eight servings
Adapted from David Lebovitz
4 cups (1liter) heavy cream (I substituted two of these cups with milk)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 ½ tablespoons chartreuse
2 packets powdered gelatin* (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water
Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the chartreuse. If you plan on unmolding the Panna Cottas, lightly oil the eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.* Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm—at least four hours or overnight.
Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate.
*To make Panna Cotta with sheet gelatin: Soften 25g (approximately six 3×5 sheets) in a liter of cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. Wring the sheets out and stir them into the warm Panna Cotta mixture in step # 4, until dissolved.
Makes 4 large pots or 6-10 smaller pots
Adapted from Frugal Feeding
200g dark chocolate
4 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, then remove from heat. Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate one by one. The mixture may appear to seize, but keeping it warm should prevent it from becoming unmanageable.
Transfer the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and beat until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue to beat until they begin to form harder, stiffer peaks – be careful not to overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in four parts. I find it easiest to mix in the first part until well incorporated, then gently fold in the last three parts.
When fully incorporated transfer the mixture into cups of your choice, and let chill at least two hours.
To serve the mousse as a layer over the Panna Cotta, carefully dollop a spoonful over the already set Panna Cottas and, using the back of a spoon, push the mousse towards the outer edges of the cup in circular motions while rotating the cup.