I am noticing a trend.. all of the BenGusto™ Disasters seem to come from dessert mishaps. Hmm… perhaps this is a sign that I need to work on my baking game…
Chocolate mousse has been one of my favorite desserts ever since my time working as a translator (Italian to English, of course) with the PASS soccer academy in Lugano, Switzerland (which was this past summer, so mousse has not held this reign for long). One of the highlights of my time there, and I am sure all from the camp would agree, was the late night dinners we would have. The most memorable dish was a dark chocolate mousse, served cold with a long spoon and a view of the beautiful Lago Lugano (Lake Lugano). This is the short story of my attempt to replicate the magnificent chocolate mousse.
I badly wanted to make a chocolate mousse not only as good as the one I consistently dreamt about, but superior. I knew that an airy, dark chocolate mousse would be the perfect addition to my BenGusto™ Dining menus. So, I set out to work on making my own recipe. Uh oh. BenGusto experimentation was enjoying a fairly decent success rate of late, but I knew I was taking more of a risk plunging into the unknown depths of dessert and, especially, chocolate.
I started out by flipping through a few cookbooks to make sure I had the correct fundamental ingredients down. Whipped cream, egg whites, fine chocolate.. Right! Sounds easy enough…
I whipped the cream with powdered sugar. I beat the eggs, adding a dash of vanilla. I tempered some fine, quality 72% chocolate in the microwave…
This is where I wanted to get fancy, and paid the price for it. Hoping to give my tempered chocolate a kick in flavor, I add a touch of grand marnier (an orange liqueur) and coffee. I stirred both in the chocolate and…. I got the lumpy stuff you see below. I am sure any french patisserie would call me out for, what I am sure is, a “beginner’s mistake”. Chocolate has a fragile chemical make-up, and when other substances are added directly in with it, the chocolate can easily react in a not-so-delectable way. Perhaps it would have been better to add the liqueur and coffee after adding the chocolate to the whipped cream and egg whites. Well, it’s a learning process, and the chemistry of cooking is taking its toll on me (especially in the art of making pastries).
While I shrugged off my disaster, thinking I could at least turn this into a semi-interesting blog post, my mother was less than pleased with my failed experiment. I reassured her that I was not about to waist ingredients, and I turned back to my big, brown mound. “What am I to do with this??”
I took out a piece of plastic, wrapped up Mt. Cocoa, and placed it in the refrigerator (I ended up using that mound of chocolate in my lunches of “dark chocolate and bitter orange marmalade sandwiches”). With two bowls full of whipped cream and egg whites sitting on the table laughing at me, I cracked open a fresh bar of chocolate. This time there was to be no coffee, no liqueur, and no mess-ups.
After tempering my chocolate, I was ready to fold it into the whipped cream. This is where mistake #2 happened. I suppose there was not enough chocolate or too much whipped cream, because I ended up with just… chocolate whipped cream!
Oh well! I threw in the towel, and decided to freeze the chocolate whipped cream into bars, figuring I could use them in coffee granitas (a traditional sicilian sweet is the coffee granita served with a frozen bar of whipped cream in the middle). I still have them sitting in my freezer.
On the flip side, I used the remaining egg whites to make a fantastic lime coconut macaroon recipe! See? Disasters in the kitchen aren’t all that bad after all.