Chocolate Mousse with Ginger Crème Brûlée
These elaborate desserts pull out all the stops. There are seven different recipes involved in replicating these desserts. Not to mention flexible plastic molds, spray painting equipment dedicated just to food, and five days advance time. The results, however, are spectacular: chocolate mousse with ginger-banana centers on coconut bisquit bases, spray painted with chocolate and topped with marbled chocolate discs, chocolate tuiles, and tall chocolate “squiggles.” Pineapple which is marinated and candied with spices and a jalapeno decorates the plates, and is in turn decorated with fresh raspberries. The good news is that many of the steps can be done ahead of time, with the pieces assembled at the last minute -- even the pretty pineapple-rimmed plates could be prepared and left in the refrigerator during dinner, then brought out when the mousse is ready to unmold.
Special equipment: 2-inch demi-globe flexible mold form with at least 8 cups
3-1/2-inch demi-globe flexible mold form with at least 8 cups
Small paint sprayer
- Marinated Pineapple
- Pineapple - 1, pared, cored, eyes removed, cut into rings
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Corn Syrup - 1 tablespoon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Cinnamon Sticks - 2, broken up slightly
- Cloves - 1 teaspoon
- Vanilla bean - 1, split
- Jalapeno Peppers - 1, poked with 6 to 8 holes
- Star Anise - 3 to 4
- Pinch of saffron
- Chocolate Decorations
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 8 ounces, chopped
- White Chocolate - 4 ounces, chopped
- Chocolate Tuiles
- Unsalted Butter - 7 tablespoons
- Sugar - 7 tablespoons
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup
- Egg Whites - 3
- Cocoa Powder - 2 tablespoons
- Coconut Bases
- Shredded Coconut - 1-1/2 cups
- Sugar - 1-1/2 cups
- Egg Whites - 6
- Cream of Tartar - 1/2 teaspoon
- Ginger-Banana Centers
- Fresh Ginger - 2 inches, peeled and sliced
- Bananas - 2, peeled and cut into chunks
- Cream - 2 cups
- Unflavored gelatin - 1/2 packet
- Cool Water - 2 tablespoons
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Chocolate Mousse
- Milk - 2 cups
- Unflavored gelatin - 1/2 packet
- Cool Water - 2 tablespoons
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Sugar - 1/2
- Milk Chocolate - 6 ounces, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup, beaten to soft peaks
- Chocolate Spray Paint
- Chocolate Liquor - 1/2 ounce, or unsweetened chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- Cocoa Butter - 1/2 ounce, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- Fresh Raspberries - 1 pint
To prepare the pineapple: Cut the pineapple rings into 1-inch wedges. Place the wedges in a saucepan and cover with cold water; bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, cover with cold water, and again bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside to cool.
In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients, scraping the seeds from the vanilla beans into the mixture before adding the pods. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Pour the syrup over the pineapple wedges and put over low heat. Cook 1 hour. Remove, cool, cover, and let stand overnight at room temperature.
The next day, bring the pineapple and syrup back to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook 1 hour. Remove, let cool, cover with plastic wrap pressed on the surface of the liquid, and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 3 days.
To finish, spread the pineapple slices on a wire rack over parchment paper or foil in a baking pan. Preheat the oven to low heat, turn off the oven, and place the pan in the oven to dry the slices. When the pieces are almost dry, remove from the oven and store in a sealed container between layers of parchment.
To make the chocolate decorations: Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone pad, flexible plastic sheet, or parchment paper. In the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the bittersweet chocolate and heat it to 110 F. Remove and let it cool to 90 F. Take the chocolate pan off the heat and keep warm on a heating pad wrapped in a heavy towel and set on low. Repeat with the white chocolate. Put one third of the dark chocolate in a piping bag. On one of the prepared trays, pipe curving squiggles of chocolate, 5 to 6 inches long; go back over them to make them wider and stronger, as they must be able to stand on their own when cooled. Make at least 28 squiggles, allowing a few for breakage. Put any remaining dark chocolate back into the warmed chocolate and stir gently to blend. Pour the white chocolate onto the other prepared tray and smooth out less than 1/4-inch thick with an offset spatula. Drizzle the dark chocolate over the white chocolate and drag through with a spoon or similar blunt utensil to marbelize the chocolates together. Smooth again to less than 1/4-inch thick. Watch as it cools; when the chocolate has lost its shine, stamp out eight 3-1/2-inch circles with a cookie cutter. Stamp out the centers with a 1-1/4-inch cutter. Lift the trimmings away from the stamped circles (this chocolate, now light in color, may be reused for a different project). Peel out the centers (again, these can be set aside for another project). Let the circles and squiggles cool completely before lifting.
To make the tuile cups: Cut a boomerang shape approximately 5 inches long from a piece of heavy plastic to create a stencil ( the tops of mrgarine or dessert topping containers are perfect for this use; trim off the rims as well). Slightly exaggerate the “elbow” portion, which will be stood in the top of the mousse. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Invert a large baking sheet and spray the back very lightly with vegetable oil spray. In a medium saucepan or skillet, melt the butter and sugar over low heat. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, stir in the flour, and add the egg whites and cocoa powder. Whisk until the batter is smooth.
Place the stencil on the prepared sheet. With an offset spatula, spread the batter over the stencil. Lift and repeat to make at least 10 to allow for breakage. Bake about 12 minutes, until set. Quickly remove the cookies from the pan and, while they are still hot, place them over a small glass turned on its side or similar object to curve them slightly. Let them cool in this position. If they become too stiff to bend before you are finished, return them momentarily to the oven to warm. When the cookies are set, remove them and let cool completely. Store sealed in a plastic bag in a cool place until ready to use.
To make the coconut bases: Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the coconut and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar and set aside. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar. Continue beating to soft peaks, then add the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar. Continue to beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. Very gently fold in the coconut-sugar mixture. Put in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe at least 8 tight spirals, 3-1/2 inches across, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until crisp but not browned. Place the parchment with the meringes on it on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, pull off the paper and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
To make the ginger-banana centers: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the ginger. Cook 5 minutes; drain. Warm the bananas and cream over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the drained ginger and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Soften the gelatin in the cool water. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Whisk a large spoonful of hot cream into the egg mixture to temper it, then slowly add the remaining hot cream to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to blend. Place back over medium heat and cook until the mixture reaches 181 F on a probe thermometer. Remove the ginger with a slotted spoon. Add the dissolved gelatin. Puree the mixture in the pan with a stick processor. Press through a fine-meshed sieve, then spoon or pour into 2-inch demi-globe flexible plastic molds. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours.
To make the chocolate mousse: Bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Soften the gelatin in the 2 tablespoons of cool water. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Whisk a large spoonful of hot milk into the egg mixture to temper it, then slowly add the remaining hot milk, whisking constantly to blend. Stir in the gelatin. Place back over medium heat and cook until the custard mixture reaches 181 F on a probe thermometer. The mixture will thicken, but not enough to coat a spoon. Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot custard over the chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds, then gently stir to blend in the chocolate. Stir in the whipped cream with the whisk. Fill 3-1/2-inch demi-globe flexible plastic molds 2/3 of the way full with the chocolate mixture. Pop the frozen ginger-banana centers out of their molds and press one into the center of each chocolate mold, curved side down. Pipe or spoon a little more chocolate over the centers to cover, then press a coconut base on each. Freeze for 4 hours.
To make the chocolate spray paint: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from heat and dry the bottom of the chocolate pan thoroughly. Stir in the cocoa butter, then let the mixture cool to 90 F (it will barely feel warm on the inside of your wrist.)
Put into an atomizer or spraypainting machine. Practice and adjust the flow before applying. Unmold the chocolate mousses and place on plastic wrap or waxed paper. Spray paint with the chocolate. Let set 5 minutes.
To assemble and serve: Place a circle of overlapping pineapple wedges around the outside rims of the plates. Place a painted chocolate mousse in the center of each plate. Dot some of the pineapple pieces on each plate with raspberries. Drizzle the pineapple poaching liquid around the plates. Put a marbled chocolate disc on top of each mousse. Stand a tuile and several chocolate squiggles through the hole in the disc into the top of each mousse.