Chocolate Tower

Parnassienne au Chocolate (Chocolate Tower)

About: Inspired by the tower of Montparnasse in Paris, a chocolate mousse encased in a thin layer of white and dark chocolate served with espresso sauce.

Chocolate Mousse:

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

3 tbs. unsalted butter, sliced

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 1/4 cups egg whites (10 large)

pinch sugar for whipping up egg whites

1. Pour 2 inches of water into a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Set a stainless steel bowl on top of the pan, and add the chocolate and the butter. Stir occasionally as the chocolate melts; when smooth and lump-free, in about five minutes, remove and let the chocolate cool to room temperature.

2. Pour the cream into the stainless steel bowl set over ice and water. Beat by hand or with a portable beater, whipping in as much air as possible, until stiff peaks form.

3. Beat the egg whites to the soft peak stage; whip in pinch of sugar; continue beating to stiff peaks form gradually adding the reminder of the sugar.

4. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cool, melted chocolate, then gradually add the rest. Fold in the cream quickly, deflating as little as possible.

5. Cut a piece of parchment paper into a rectangle 3 1/2 inches wide by and 5 inches long. From into a cylinder approximately 5 inches tall and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Close the side with a piece of sticky tape and make sure that it stands up straight. Repeat to form 4 cylinders.

6. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse and pipe into the tubes, leaving a 1/2 inch space at the top. Drape the tops of the cylinders with a sheet of plastic and place in the freezer until frozen solid (approximately 1 hour).

Lattice:

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into pieces

6 ounces white chocolate, cut into pieces

For decorating the towers, cut eight 5 inch squares out of parchment paper. Fill a decorating cone with some of the dark chocolate, and drizzle free form diagonal lines no more than 1/4 inch apart in a lattice pattern across each of the parchment squares. As each square is done, lay flat on one of the baking sheets. When all are finished put the sheets in the freezer until the chocolate is set - about 5 minutes. Reserve the remaining melted chocolate.

Remove one dark chocolate square from the freezer. With the offset spatula, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the white chocolate in a very thin layer on top of the lattice, leaving a 1 inch strip uncoated at one side. Scrape off any excess chocolate. Unwrap one frozen mousse tower and lay it on top of the white chocolate, parallel to and opposite the uncoated strip. Quickly wrap the parchment around the mousse, handling as little as possible and being careful to leave the uncoated flap overlapping. Return each finished tower to the freezer. The papers may be peeled off after five minutes and the chocolate lattice will remain in place around the mousse. Then let the mousse defrost in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Espresso Sauce

1 1/2 cups half and half (light cream)

1/2 fragrant vanilla bean (1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup espresso coffee beans (2 ounces)

Heat the half and half with the vanilla bean, when almost at a simmer remove from the heat and cover the pan. Meanwhile, start beating the egg yolks with the hand held mixer in the pan until thick and lemon - colored. Gradually beat in the sugar; then slowly blend in the 1/4 cup of hot cream to warm the yolks slowly. Blend slowly to minimize air bubbles. Remove the vanilla bean from the remaining cream and blend the cream into the yolk mixture. Pour in the espresso beans and set over low heat, stirring slowly and constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Strain through the fine meshed sieve into a bowl and let cool. Serve warm, tepid or chilled.

To Finish:

Fresh Seasonal Berries (blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries)

Cocoa Powder

Remove finished mousse towers with lattice from refrigerator. Place on plate with raised edges standing upright. Pour chilled espresso sauce around the base of the tower to fill up the plate. Garnish with fresh berries on the top of the tower and a few around the plate. Finish with a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Serve immediately.

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