Chocolate Crispy Praline Pyramid ▶
This dessert pulls out all the stops. Frozen chocolate mousse with a crispy praline base is spray-painted with bittersweet chocolate to become the pyramid centerpiece of this elaborate dessert. Chocolate loops and a caramel orange sauce complete the plate. This dessert requires a professional mold and ingredients obtainable only from local or national professional pastry supply centers; one such is Albert Uster Imports, Inc., 1-800-231-8154. The chocolate paint is applied with a small spray-painting machine used only for food — obviously. The bases of the pyramids are made from praline paste and “paillete de feuilletines,” broken-up cigarette cookie pastry, both of which are professional baking materials. You could break up purchased cigarette cookies to make your own paillete. For those who wish to plunge ahead, here are the directions.
- Chocolate Loops
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 4 ounces, chopped
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 7 ounces, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Praline Crispy Pyramid Bottom
- White Chocolate - 1-1/4 ounces
- Praline paste - 6-1/2 ounces
- Paillette de Feuilletines - 3 ounces
- Chocolate Spray Paint
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 4 ounces, chopped
- Cocoa Butter - 4 ounces
- Caramel Orange Sauce
- Granulated Sugar - 2 cups
- Orange Juice - 1 cup
- Grand Marnier - 2 teaspoons
- Oranges - 2 fresh, divided into segments
- Mint sprigs - 6 fresh
To prepare the chocolate loops: Make a template from plastic which is 1 to 2 mm thick: cut 10 parallel slits, 1/4-inch by 6 inches, 1/4-inch apart. On one edge, cut a rectangular notch into the edge measuring 1 inch deep by 4-3/4 inches long. Lay 6-inch by 10-inch flexible plastic strips on a work surface. Temper the chocolate (see Cooking Basics) and place into a piping bag fitted with a wide tip. Lay the line template in the center of one of the strips. Pipe chocolate over the template; smooth with a small spatula, returning excess chocolate to the piping bag. Line up the notched side of the template so that the piped lines are right at the opening and pipe chocolate into the notched opening to form a band across one end of the stripes; smooth with a spatula. Repeat on the other end. As soon as the chocolate loses its gloss, pick up the plastic strip, chocolate and all, and curve over with the chocolate on the inside to match the flat bands, forming a loop. Press the bands together gently along their outer edge, but do not press very hard. Clip the plastic strip ends together at the bottom with paper clips or other light clips and prop up to finish cooling; if possible, chill in the refrigerator. Repeat with remaining strips to make a total of 18 loops. Once set, carefully peel the plastic from the chocolate. Store in a cool dry place.
To prepare the chocolate mousse: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Put in a mixing bowl. Heat 1/4 cup of the cream to boiling; pour over the melted chocolate. Whip the remaining 1-3/4 cups of cream to soft-peak stage; fold approximately one-third into the melted chocolate to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Place this mixture into pastry bag fitted with large tip. Pipe into pyramid molds; spread out over each mold using a spatula.
To prepare the praline crispy pyramid bottom: Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the white chocolate and praline paste; add the paillettes and stir to combine. Place a large spoonful of the mixture over the mousse in one of the molds. Use two forks to spread it out across entire surface to create the base of the pyramid. Repeat with the other molds. Freeze the pyramid molds overnight.
To prepare the chocolate spray paint: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir in the cocoa butter. Place this mixture into a spray gun used only for food. Take the pyramids out of the molds and place on a work surface covered with parchment or waxed paper. Spray-paint the frozen mousse pyramids with chocolate. Place the pyramids back into freezer until ready to serve the dessert.
To prepare the caramel-orange sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the sugar without stirring until it melts and begins to make large bubbles. Add the orange juice and Grand Marnier, being careful of spatters; stir to blend. Remove from heat.
To serve: Pool dessert plates with a thin layer of caramel-orange sauce. Place a pyramid in center of each plate; place 3 chocolate loops around each pyramid. Place orange segments in the sauce. Garnish with fresh mint.