Thursday, July 30, 2015

Chocolate Mousse & Salted Caramel Trifle

What do egg yolks, baby pacifiers, butter, salt, and Dr. Spock all have in common - they come and they go - in and out of favor.  What was good for the goose of 1950 is not necessarily good for the gander of 2015 and one thing that the experience of living and eating long does is help you gain a bit of perspective to calmly ride the waves of favor in health, attitudes and cuisine.  That's why I was never too concerned when eggs were called the devil, when butter wore the horns of evil for many years for I knew the trident of "no-no-no' would pass on from those products to others as scientific investigation and experimentation have led us from one fad to another.  The influential "they" will decide eventually, when people just become tired of eating tofu, or pretending to like green slimy shakes that moderation was always a moderate guide anyway.  My hat goes off to those who are committed to a righteous cause, nutritional or otherwise, who exhibit the will power to follow what they consider a just cause....but if your cause is "just cause" and this is one of those moderation times, and this recipe, the extreme that sets the average at moderate, try this dessert and be grateful that fresh cream has had a resurgence.  Lovely, luscious chocolate; creamy, caramel, smooth and silky; layers that ribbon through one another and round about chunks of chocolate cake to glaze the inside of a glass container with whispy promises of the chocolate divine!  Of course this was often one of my daughter's birthday favorites, she being a connoisseur of all things delicious. My Israeli friend's mother made something similar, she called parfait but which I would have called trifle - either way, you will definitely want more than a trifle and it is one dessert that is simply "pairfait" (perfect)!
     Can we now talk about in the salt in butter, as in the salt in doughs and pastries, as in the salt in caramel - can you believe that there was an entire generation committed to the notion of "no salt is good salt"; in fact, my "Better Homes and Gardens" recipe book of the 1980's took all salt out of the baking recipes, and not long after, the word "butter" became taboo and margarine slipped in as the healthier choice in cookbooks of the times.  I tried to care enough to resist using the $.08 a pound butter we could get off the U.S. Navy ships that visited Tunis and regardless of what anyone said I was such a fan of the depth of flavor and richness that salt lends to sweets as well as savories when a friend asked me why the biscuits he made were so bland, I knew the answer. The day my doctor told me I needed more salt in my diet, I readily agreed I could make that sacrifice. So hold on for the ride, keep your moderate perspective, especially as you watch this dessert come and go.  It's a perfect way to go!

Chocolate Caramel Trifle:
1 chocolate cake, broken into small pieces and left to dry out on the counter for several hours.

Chocolate Mousse:
  9 eggs, separated
  2/3 cup sugar
  6 oz. milk chocolate bar
  4 oz semi or bitter sweet chocolate bar
  1 cup whipping cream
  1 tab. vanilla extract

 -Cream egg yolks with sugar by beating on medium high speed      -Melt chocolate in microwave (at 30 second intervals on high speed until melted) or in saucepan over lowest heat. Allow to cool 10 minutes.
 - Stir chocolate into egg yolks with mixer running on low speed with 1 tab. vanilla.
 - In a clean medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until very     stiff  (about 5 minutes)– set aside.
 -Whip cream in another medium mixing bowl until soft peaks form.
 -Add whipped cream and egg whites to chocolate mixture,  and fold mixture together gently until chocolate is blended in (a few strikes of white may remain).
 - Chill about 30 minutes, until slightly set up.

Caramel Sauce:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 square butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. fleur de sel salt or kosher salt

-Over medium heat, combine butter, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar,
 and karo syrup, until boiling, stirring frequently.
-Cook, stirring constantly, to softball stage.  Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla and salt.  Let cool to room temperature.

To Assemble:  In glass trifle dish, crumble half of the cake, to cover the bottom of dish. Spread half the chocolate mousse over the cake crumbs. Drizzle with half the caramel sauce. Repeat layers. Garnish with piped whipped cream and/or chocolate leaves.  Sprinkle top layer of caramel with a pinch of salt, if desired.

Persnickety P.S.:
**  I generally use a prepared chocolate cake mix and whip up my own, but buying already baked brownies or chocolate pound cake "takes the cake" for ease, though these make for a richer, sweeter dessert.  For a lighter dessert, use chocolate angel food or chocolate chiffon cake.

**To add another variety of texture, crush whole oreo cookies and sprinkle the crumbs as another layer on top of the caramel layers.  Zahra's favorite way! 

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