No matter the decade, no matter the trend, chocolate mousse figures as the ultimate in dinner party desserts. This particular lovable chocolate mousse pie has stood as one my favorite desserts for decades, not least because its method is just so cool. With one batter, you make both the crust and the filling of a chocolate-y pie that’s at once hearty and light. All that goes into this super-batter are eggs, chocolate, and sugar (more or less), which means that this exquisite, elegant tart is both flour and butter free.
Maida Heatter has a way with chocolate. She mastered not-too-sweet, not-too-rich chocolate desserts even before these times of high-quality, bittersweet bars. And this recipe, from her book, Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, not only shows her cacao expertise but also comes with the cutest intro paragraph I’ve ever read.
Of the many recipes that were born in my kitchen, this was one of the most exciting because it became The New York Times’s 1972 Dessert of the Year.
Maida Heatter is right on. Forty years later, this recipe is still exciting. And as we head towards 2013–forty-one years later–the tart will stay exciting, which is one of the reasons I’m posting this today. I think it would make a fabulous, festive, elegant New Year’s Eve dessert, if you’re hosting a party at home or responsible for bringing dessert to a friend’s dinner party.
Happy new year, BGSK readers!
More Festive New Year’s Eve Dishes:
Chocolate Mousse Pie
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts
Butter for the pan
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used a block of Callebaut, chopped finely)
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/4 cup boiling water
8 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch glass pie pan well.
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve the coffee in the hot water, then add to the chocolate. Microwave until just smooth in 30-second intervals – it shouldn’t take more than a minute to a minute and a half if you cut your chocolate small. Set aside to cool. You can also melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler.
In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks on high speed for 5 minutes, until they’re lightened and thickened. Slowly stream in the sugar while beating, then continue to beat on high speed for 5 more minutes. The yolks will be very thick and a little sticky. Add the vanilla and chocolate and beat them in slowly, scraping down the bowl. Set aside and wash and dry the mixer’s beaters well.
Put the egg whites in another mixing bowl and add the salt. With those clean, dry beaters, beat the whites until they hold soft peaks, but not until they are stiff or dry.
In two or three small additions, fold about half of the egg whites into the egg yolk-chocolate mixture – no need to be very thorough. Then fold the chocolate into the remaining whites. Fold only until no egg whites show, using big but gentle movements so as not to deflate all those egg whites you just inflated with air.
Handling as little as possible, remove 4 cups of the mousse to a bowl or storage container. Store in the fridge.
Turn the rest of the batter into the pie plate – it won’t look like there’s that much, but don’t worry. Gently, level it out. Bake for 22 minutes, until puffed. Turn off the oven and leave the pie plate in for another 5 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely – the mousse will deflate, leaving a high rim, which will become the crust.
When the baked mousse is completely cool, remove the reserved mousse from the fridge and gently mound it in the center of the shell. Spread it to the edges, leaving it slightly higher in the center. Smooth the top so it looks pretty to serve, but don’t deflate the air out of it.
Refrigerate at least 2 to 3 hours, or overnight. The tart will set, making it easy to cut.
Serve in wedges, with whipped cream scooped on each slice.