Monday, March 05, 2018

Chocolate and Cafe au Lait Mousse from Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food

One of the cookbooks I received for the spring season of the ABRAMS Dinner Party is Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food. It is the "revised and refreshed" edition, based on recipes from the best restaurants and chefs in New Orleans, intended for the home cook.

For the recipes to originate in restaurants and with chefs, you'd better believe that some of them are complex and require multiple parts. Others require ingredients you may or may not be able to access if you live too far away from New Orleans. My first read through the cookbook had me ordering Tom's recommended New Orleans coffee and chicory blend from Union (via Amazon.) I set the cookbook aside until that showed up, and brewed some cafe au lait from the pages while I went through a second time.

I started pining for summer, when the coastal seafood suppliers show up at my local farmers markets (4 hours inland.) I just couldn't imagine making some of the shellfish recipes with frozen or lesser ingredients than they seemed to demand. There is a heavy richness to some of these dishes, as you would find in old school New Orleans cuisine. I made the shirred eggs with crab remick for brunch this past weekend, and even leaving the bacon out, it was incredibly rich and flavorful. Even so I had to buy multiple ingredients just for the sauce that I didn't already have in my pantry. Luckily these are common enough in the south that I was able to find chili sauce, creole mustard, and salt-free creole seasoning from my local grocery store. I have a bunch of recipes marked for when I have better access to oysters and shrimp. SOON.

For now, I turned my attention, as I do, to the breakfast, baked goods, and dessert sections of the cookbook. Since I was enthralled with the cafe au lait flavor, I decided to make a very traditional dessert - chocolate mousse! This recipe doesn't have a story linking it to a specific restaurant or chef, so I imagine this is Tom's recipe. Since I didn't need to serve 6-8, I halved the recipe, and ended up very glad I did. A half recipe was almost too much for my mixing bowl when I folded ingredients together. You'd need commercial stainless steel mixing bowls for the full recipe! I am including the full recipe from the cookbook below, but it divides in half fairly easily.

Chocolate and Cafe au Lait Mousse

1 lb. Baker's semisweet chocolate
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup warm, brewed very dark coffee, preferably coffee and chicory blend
1/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in a microwave oven in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (This can also be done in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.)
  2. In another bowl, whip the egg yolks until they become distinctly lighter in color. Combine the coffee and milk, and add it slowly to the yolks, whisking as you go. Add the chocolate slowly the egg-and-coffee mixture and whisk well until the mixture is just barely warm and well blended.
  3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until stiff. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Do this gently; don't worry about achieving an absolutely uniform texture.
  4. Whip the heavy cream in a metal bowl. Remember that cream whips best when cold and that if you overwhip, it will break up into butter and buttermilk.  
  5. If the chocolate mixture is still warm, let it continue to cool to room temperature. Then fold in the whipped cream with the rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Do this gently and keep at it until you have a uniform texture.
  6. Spoon the mousse into serving dishes or pipe it in with a pastry bag for a more elegant presentation. If you like, top it with shaved chocolate or a strawberry.
Serves 6-8

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

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