Dining Features

Simple Art of Cooking: White Chocolate Is for Valentine’s Day

Chocolate has always been one of my favorite desserts for special occasions. There are few better ways to end a Valentine’s Day dinner than with a dessert made with chocolate. I love the idea of preparing a white chocolate mousse with a red raspberry sauce—appropriate colors for Valentine’s Day.

White chocolate is considered the “unchocolate chocolate.” It’s not as sweet as regular chocolate—and that’s exactly why I like using it in the white chocolate mousse recipe. The amount of sugar that is called for in the recipe below, and added to the mousse mixture, is just sweet enough to satisfy.

The white chocolate mousse is quite simple. Heated half and half is added to the previously melted chocolate sugar mixture and returned to the saucepan. It is simmered for several minutes, the softened gelatin stirred into the mixture, seasonings stirred through and poured into a mold. For the sauce, the combined raspberries, preserves and sugar are simmered together, seasoned with the liquor and refrigerated for a week or more. The sauce may also be served over ice cream or pound cake. Enjoy your do-ahead Valentine’s Day treat!

WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE
This white chocolate mousse, with its silky, custard-like texture, is made without eggs or heavy cream. When prepared in a heart mold, it makes a perfect Valentine’s Day treat served with red raspberry sauce.

Serves 4 to 6

For the mousse

5 ounces white chocolate, chopped fine*
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 pint half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rosewater
Grated peel from 1 orange

For the sauce

1 package (10 oz.) frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup raspberry preserves
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry brandy)

1. Place chopped chocolate in top of a double boiler or straddle a bowl over a saucepan with water in bottom pan (I prefer this method). Place pan over very low heat; it is important that the top bowl sit over the water below without touching the water. When mixture appears to be soft, stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from heat and stir sugar into melted chocolate as well as possible. Any lumpy coated particles of chocolate that develop will dissolve with the addition of the hot half and half.

2. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand until gelatin has absorbed the liquid. Set aside and do not stir.

3. In another saucepan heat half and half to the edge of a boil. Pour hot half and half into the chocolate mixture, return to the saucepan the half and half heated in, and simmer over medium-low heat about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Be careful not to allow the mixture to boil over. Remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin to incorporate thoroughly. Add vanilla, rose water and grated orange peel; stir to mix. Pour into a 4-cup soufflé dish or heart mold. Chill for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Serve with raspberry sauce.

4. For raspberry sauce, drain raspberries in a sieve-lined bowl and set liquid aside.

5. Combine berries, preserves and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the edge of a boil. Adjust heat to medium-low and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes or so, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Add kirsch and stir to mix. If too thick, stir in some of the reserved juice by droplets until desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate, covered in a suitable container until ready to use. Sauce can be prepared a week or more ahead.

*Note 1: For finely chopped chocolate, break into pieces then finely chop in a food processor with steel knife blade in place.

Note 2: Working with chocolate can be tricky and is a delicate procedure. Care should be taken when melting chocolate or it can turn lumpy—or worse it can seize if any moisture or steam gets into the chocolate. Best to melt over very low, steady heat.

READ MORE SIMPLE ART OF COOKING

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