Praline Mousse Served with Chocolate Meringue
Chocolate mousse combines well with praline — nuts candied with caramel and broken into small pieces — for this luxurious dessert. The mousse is served in chocolate meringue bowls set on plates coated with chocolate sauce. Chocolate meringue strips add the finishing touch.
- Simple Syrup
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Water - 1 cup
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Pecan halves - 1 cup
- Praline Mousse
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Simple Syrup - 1⁄4 cup
- White Chocolate - 3-1⁄2 ounces
- Whipped Cream - 1-3⁄4 cups
- Praline - 8 ounces
- Chocolate Meringue
- Egg Whites - 8
- Sugar - 2 cups
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - 3⁄4 cup
- Chocolate Sauce
- Heavy Cream - 6 tablespoons
- Simple Syrup - 1⁄2 cup
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 6 ounces, finely chopped
- Grand Marnier - 2 tablespoons
To make the simple syrup: In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and reserve until ready to use.
To make the praline: Brush a baking sheet lightly with oil. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the sugar over high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The sugar will form lumps at first, then as it begins to melt, the lumps will dissolve. When the sugar begins to take on a light color, lower the heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring until the sugar turns a light caramel color. At this point you may add the nuts all at once, and stir with the spoon to make sure they are all coated with caramel. Boil and stir 30 seconds more or until the nuts have separated. Turn the caramelized nuts onto the oiled baking sheet and set aside to cool and harden.
When the praline has hardened, break it into pieces, transfer to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and process until chopped fine. The praline can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container.
To make the praline mousse: In a double boiler over simmering water melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat. In the same double boiler heat the egg yolks with the simple syrup and whisk constantly for about 6 minutes or until thick ribbons form when the whisk is lifted and a thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 F. Let cool slightly. Fold in the chocolate. Place the heavy cream in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a chilled balloon whip and beat on high speed about 1 minute until peaks form. With the mixer on low speed add the chocolate and continue mixing until the chocolate is completely incorporated. Fold in the praline. Chill this mixture 2 hours or overnight.
To make the chocolate meringue: Preheat the oven to 250 F. In a large bowl beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they just hold soft peaks. Add the sugar in a stream and beat until stiff peaks form. When the peaks are shiny, use a rubber spatula to fold the cocoa into the meringue, one-third at a time. Spoon the meringue mixture into a pastry bag and pipe 3- to 4-inch circles onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Continue to spiral each circle upward to about 2 inches, leaving the center hollow, and filling only the bottom completely. Next make the meringue decorations. Pipe 2 long thin strips of meringue lengthwise across the sheet pan. Place the meringues in the preheated oven and bake 1 hour and 30 minutes until dry. Remove the meringues from the oven and cool on parchment paper. Lift them off the paper and store in an airtight container until ready to use. Can be stored in a cool dry place for at least one week.
To make the chocolate sauce: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water heat the heavy cream with the simple syrup. Add the chocolate to the bowl and stir until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the Grand Marnier. Remove the bowl from the heat, transfer to a clean container, and cool. The sauce may be made 1 week in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated slowly over low heat.
To present: Spoon chocolate sauce onto individual dessert plates. Place a meringue cup on each plate, and spoon in the praline mousse. Break the meringue strips into pieces of varying length, and place vertically into the mousse so the meringue sticks resemble spikes.