Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chocolate Mousse and Decorative Cookies

Update May 11:

(For comments on this second batch of cookies see below.)



This dessert deserves photos with better lighting, as well as more practice on my part. But such as this first attempt turned out, I'll post about it now before I run out of time (8 days till baby comes!). And next time I make it again I'll add new photos to this post.

Easy, tasty, light and fun
Both the chocolate mousse and the cookies were very easy to make, and the combination is fun and tasty, which makes it post-worthy in my book! The mousse is airy and quite light, as it contains no butter or cream, and 4 egg whites for a single egg yolk. Also, very little sugar. The cookies are extremely quick to make, and while not exceptionally delicious on their own, they add a nice crunchy back-drop to the mousse. They also offer lots of room for creativity. I've always liked drawing and decorative arts in general, and I enjoy drawing or writing with/on food.

A French classic
I found the recipes on chocolat & caetera, whose author Guillemette is currently reviewing the classics in simple French desserts, such as crème brûlée, crèmes au chocolat etc.



Good consistency
I hadn't made mousse au chocolat in a long time, and memories of my last attempts include runny bottom layers where the egg white returned to its original liquid state. This time the mousse survived overnight refrigeration with no alteration of the consistency, or rather an improvement thereof.

Cookies can be piped with a plastic sandwich bag
I think I can improve on the cookies, as I carelessly used a little too much flour, which made the batter slightly too thick for piping elegant shapes. For piping I just placed the batter in a plastic sandwich bag, pushed it all toward a corner and then snipped off a small opening with scissors.

Kid-friendly recipes
As always, my yardstick for easy recipes is whether I can multitask while making them. In this case I made the chocolate mousse while preparing dinner for the family (I had to rewarm the chocolate mixture to get it to 40°C). The next day I made the cookies between picking up my children from daycare and preparing dinner. Under their attentive and sometimes disruptive supervision... An added bonus is the children's delight at seeing their initials or names written in cookie-dough!

Raw eggs
Whoops, I just realized that this perfect mousse recipe has one drawback: it uses raw eggs. Not that the French ever seem to worry about that -- maybe I should have, being pregnant! -- but I prefer to point it out, for those who are careful about these things.


Recipe: Chocolate Mousse
Source: Chocolat & Caetera
Original source: Pierre Hermé, Larousse du chocolat

- 170g dark chocolate (70%) (6 oz.)
[I used 150g]
- 8cl whole milk (1/3 of a cup)
[I used partly skimmed milk]
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 egg whites
- 20g sugar (a little over 1 1/2 Tbspns)

1. Break the chocolate in small pieces and melt gently over simmering water. Bring the milk to a boil.
2. Remove chocolate from heat source and whisk the milk into the melted chocolate until smooth.
3. Add the egg yolk and mix.
4. Beat the egg whites (with a pinch of salt if you wish), adding the sugar gradually once they form soft peaks. Egg whites must be quite firm.
5. Once the chocolate mixture is barely warm to the touch (40°C, or 104°F), mix in one third of the egg whites, then very gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a rubber spatula.
[Guillemette did not specify this recommendation concerning the temperature of the chocolate mixture. I found it directly in Hermé's book. Maybe it's not particularly important. Also Guillemette melts the chocolate by chopping it fine and pouring the hot milk over it, which saves time too.]
6. Pour into a large bowl or into individual cups and chill for one hour or longer. (Can be made a day ahead).



Recipe: Decorative chocolate cookies
Source: Chocolat & Caetera

Ingredients
- 50g flour (1/3 of a cup or a little more)
- 10g unsweetened cocoa (1 Tbspn?)
- 60g sugar (a tad less than 1/3 of a cup)
- 1/2 tspn ground cumin
[I omitted the ground cumin because of the children, but would be interested to try it on a more grown-up audience]
- 1 egg white
- 30g melted butter (a little over 2 Tbspns)

Mix all ingredients, spread thinly with the back of a spoon or pipe the batter on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 5 minutes in a pre-heated 180°C oven. The cookies slide off the paper and become hard as they cool.

[I told you it was easy!]


Update May 11: Comments on batch number 2

I had to give this recipe another try. The cookies came out too thick again, even though (because?) I added a little milk to make the batter more liquid. But I may have snipped too large a corner off the plastic bag I used for piping, causing the ribbon of batter to come out too thick. And since it was runny, it was hard to stop the flow between forms. I'll keep working on it!

Also if the cookies are bumpy it's because I used my home-made vanilla sugar, which was a little lumpy. Finer sugar would make for smoother cookies.

What I really like about this recipe is that it's sturdy enough to allow the creation of large shapes. Yes I had some breakage, but creating a few backup names for events such as birthday parties would be no major extra effort.

15 comments:

William said...

Miam!

Kai Carver said...

Stunningly beautiful!

I'd like to see the cookie-dough letters. I like to eat words.

Different alphabets might be nice too.

And good to see you're using the ZenZoo cups!

Tanya said...

So cute!

Guillemette said...

cool, ils sont trop mignons tes cookies !
c'est vrai que la pate est un peu epaisse, mais ca lui permet de garder la bonne forme, et de pas s'etaler !
je dxecouvre ton blog, super recettes ! a bientot !

Astrid said...

William - Je vois que tu es sensible aux sucreries! Pas de problème pour t'en faire si tu passes par ici.

Kai - Thanks! I think of you everytime I mix writing and food. Did I tell you I once bought cookie cutters that let you print (as in Gutenberg-style printing) on a cookie? I haven't blogged about them because it's a pain setting up the typeface. But you can see an example here.
I love my ZenZoo cups!

Tanya - Thanks!

Guillemette - Encore merci pour ces excellentes recettes, et je pense que la prochaine fois j'arriverai à faire des biscuits un peu moins épais, plus délicats comme les tiens.

Rose said...

Miam, Miam et Miam. Surtout le biscuit decoratif.

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Oh, that is mouth-watering! And yes, it would definitely be kid-friendly...my son would happily dig into it.

Anonymous said...

WOW !

DH

valentina said...

Astrid, you are so talented. I love everything about this post. terribly inspiring.

Astrid said...

Rose - Merci ! Les enfants aiment bien les biscuits décoratifs, moi je les trouve surtout ludiques!

Culinary Cowgirl - Thanks! If you make the mousse for children, maybe lower cocoa chocolate, unless your son loves bittersweet flavors.

DH - Glad you liked it!

Valentina - Thank you so much for your kind words! I find them inspiring too!

Kate said...

wow chocolate is my most fav dessert and u just took it a notch higher...with your wonderful chocolate cookie art !

jenjen said...

Those cookies are so cute, I am definitely giving this a go.

Gattina said...

the cookies still look wonderful! It's a work of art!

heather said...

Oh my goodness! These are so lovely!

I hope you don't mind that I've added your blog to my cooking links, and I also hope your little one leaves you some time to cook and post again soon. Congratulations! :)

Tamami said...

beautiful message-cookies! Love the flow-y style of writing. - I may just have to swipe that idea for a future birthday cake! :)