CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Because there’s only so much virtuous eating we can tolerate, a splurge dessert needs to be at the ready for those cheat days — right? Writing a lot of Valentine’s stories makes me think of my favorite chocolate creations, and nothing is easier and more decadent than chocolate mousse. When I made this a couple of weeks ago, I used duck eggs gifted to me by my friend Micheline. Richer and more nutrient-dense than chicken eggs (loaded with B12, especially), these were a boon to the already sumptuous treat. I follow a recipe similar to Julia Child’s, adding a little Frangelico when I garnish with hazelnuts or Amaretto when sliced, toasted almonds are the accent. Sometimes I’ll change it up, using Grand Marnier and garnishing with orange zest. I prefer Callebaut semisweet chocolate from Belgium (found at Central Market) but any good quality chocolate — Guittard and Valrhona are excellent brands, as well — works fine. A foolproof dessert, this looks especially festive in martini glasses or antique coupes, like these my grandmother left behind.

Serves 4

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 ounces unsalted butter, cubed

¼ cup strong brewed coffee

4 large eggs, separated

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Amaretto (or another liqueur)

Pinch of salt

Whipped cream, lightly sweetened, for garnish

Toasted almond slices, for garnish

Heat a pan filled halfway with water and set a glass bowl atop, not quite touching the water’s surface. In the bowl over very gently boiling water, melt together chocolate, butter, and coffee, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, till smooth. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form and begin to hold. Add sugar gradually as you continue to beat, beating until stiff peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently stir in Amaretto and salt until blended. Spoon mixture into 4 martini glasses or coupes. Carefully cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or till ready to serve. Top with whipped cream and toasted almond slices.

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