Chocolate Mousse with a Harlequin Cookie Mask
Take yourself to Mardi Gras with Chef Graham’s Harlequin Cookie Mask. This is a spectacular dessert. You may, of course, prefer to serve his superb chocolate mousse out of costume — simply presented in an elegant glass container such as a cognac, Champagne, or parfait glass. Top with sweetened whipped cream and a few strategic raspberries. But the masks — shaped tuile cookies — make it a festive occasion.
- Chocolate Mousse
- Semisweet Chocolate - 1 pound, broken into pieces
- Eggs - 4 large, separated
- Water - 1/3 cup
- Dark Rum - 1/3 cup
- Granulated Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 3 cups, beaten to firm peaks
- Harlequin Cookie Mask
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pure Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
- Egg Whites - 4
- Heavy (whipping) cream - if necessary
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - 1 teaspoon
- Vegetable oil spray
- Ribbons - 4 yards 1/4-inch-wide ribbons, purple, green, and gold (optional)
To make the mousse: Slowly melt the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Place the egg yolks in a bowl, then whisk in 1/3 cup water and the dark rum. When thoroughly blended, stir in the melted chocolate rapidly. Beat the egg whites until foamy in a clean bowl with clean beaters. Sprinkle in the sugar, then beat to stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the whipped cream, preserving as much volume as possible. Spoon into elegant glasses and chill in the refrigerator.
To make the masks: Make a mask stencil by tracing a mask shape, about 7 inches long, onto a piece of heavy cardboard, making sure that you allow space for a border. Cut the shape out, leaving a mask stencil with straight edges and a 2-inch border all around. Cut around the eye portions, leaving them attached to the upper edge of the stencil by a thin strip of cardboard.
Sift the flour and confectioner’s sugar into a large bowl. With an electric mixer on low speed, add the cinnamon and vanilla, then the egg whites, one by one, mixing well to make a paste. Let the mixture sit in the bowl at room temperature for 45 minutes. If the paste is too thick after 45 minutes, thin with a small amount of cream: you need to be able to spread the paste, then have it hold its shape. Mix two tablespoons of the paste with the cocoa powder and place in a pastry bag with a narrow tip. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with vegetable oil spray. Lay the mask stencil on top of the greased paper. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of paste over the mask. Lift up the stencil and repeat to make twelve masks in all. Using the pastry bag, pipe a thin band of chocolate paste 1/2 inch wide along the edge of each mask. Draw a toothpick through the band using an up and down motion to create a decorative effect resembling feathers. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the masks begin to turn golden.
Place a large canister on its side. Remove the masks from the oven and immediately peel each mask, one at a time, off the paper. Wrap the masks around the canister to give them a curved shape. If the masks become too stiff to curve, return the baking sheet briefly to the oven to warm them again. Let the curved masks cool on the canister before handling; they will set and harden as they cool. Remove from the canister and let cool completely. The masks can be stored in an airtight container for up to 8 hours.
To serve: Cut the ribbon into 1-foot lengths. Assemble into groups of purple, green, and gold and tie one cluster gently through one of the eye holes of a mask. Repeat with all the masks. Place the glasses filled with chocolate mousse on individual serving plates. Lean a mask against each glass.