or, The Perfect Dessert
How do you like your dessert? Smooth? Thick? Crunchy? A bit salty? Buttery? Chocolatey? Something surprising? Not too heavy? All of the above? Then THIS is the dessert for you. And for me. And for everyone I know. Seriously, this could become your go-to dessert to really impress your guests.
My teenage son often requests chocolate mousse on those occasions I ask for ideas for what I should cook. And I always decline. Why, you ask? For some reason, I think it is too hard, too fussy, too delicate. But last Sunday, I started poking around Epicurious to see exactly what is involved. Guess what? It’s not too hard! You can do this. And why not? IT IS PERFECT!
The key, like in every other dessert, is the quality of your ingredients. In this recipe, it is all about the chocolate you choose. For me, I always choose a darker chocolate. So for this recipe I recommend bittersweet chocolate, which is in the 62-72% cacao range. I chose Sharffenberger, since it came in a bag the exact size I needed and I know it is good quality. But there are many choices out there, so feel free to experiment.
Like most recipes, I had to change it slightly. On Epicurious, someone recommended adding a bit of caramel on the bottom of the glass. So I decided to add some crunchiness to that caramel, adding flaky salt and toffee bits. Then I added the mousse and more toffee bits.
The other good thing about this recipe is that you could serve it in a casual or fancy setting. You could serve it in a jam jar, the way I did, or you could serve it in a martini glass or a wine glass for a more formal dinner.
This recipe serves 6 in the jars I used. Since we had 5 of us for dinner, my lucky son had the leftover as a late-night snack! And now I can make the most perfect dessert ever! (so can you!)
Salted Butter Chocolate-Caramel Mousse
(As seen on Epicurious, and published in My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by Dave Lebovitz New York: Ten Speed Press, 2014.)
1/2 c granulated sugar
3 T salted butter, cubed
3/4 c heavy cream
6 oz. Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs, separated
Flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel
1 jar Dulce de Leche (Trader Joe’s and other grocers sell this, it is also available canned in the Mexican foods section sometimes)
1 or 2 toffee candy bars (such as Heath), chopped fine
First, make a caramel sauce. Sprinkle the sugar over the bottom of a saucepan. Over medium heat, watch the sugar carefully. It will begin to liquefy around the edges. Once it liquefies a bit, use a heat-proof rubber spatula to move the liquid part toward the center of the pan. The object here is to not let the liquid caramel burn.
Once the sugar is completely liquefied, continue to stir gently as the color goes from light Amber to dark Amber.
Watch the Amber liquid closely, because at this point, it can quickly burn. At a certain point it will smoke a bit. It might smell slightly burnt at this point, don’t worry, just remove it from the heat and add the butter cubes, and whisk. It will bubble vigorously, but again, no need to worry, just keep whisking until the butter is melted.
At this point, slowly add the cream. When you add the cream, the cooler temperature of the cream will cause some of the caramel to solidify. Just keep whisking. You may need to use the whisk to pry some bits of caramel loose from the surface of the pan, but be patient, it eventually will melt back into the caramel. I had to put the pan back over the still-warm burner to get it to liquefy. Keep whisking until it is smooth. Now you have Dulce de Leche!
Add the chopped chocolate. Whisk gently until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Then whisk in the egg yolks.
Set the chocolate mixture aside. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold 1/3 of the white along with a HEAPING 1/4 t of the fleur de sel into the chocolate mixture until you cannot see any white, then gently fold in remaining whites. Fold until the last traces of white disappear.
Next, assemble your desserts. Place 2 T of your canned or jarred Dulce de Leche into the bottom of a wine glass, martini glass or a jar. Sprinkle with a pinch of fleur de sel, and a bit of the chopped candy bar.
Next, spoon the chocolate mousse over the dulce de Leche at the bottom of each dish. Top with more of the toffee candy bar bits. Refrigerate several hours before serving. Enjoy!