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The Mass Media

Crème Caramel and Chocolate Mousse

All this talk about dinner and no dessert! Well, here are two of my absolute most favorite desserts. The crème caramel recipe is somewhat of a hybrid. I took a recipe for the custard of crème brûlee, and mixed it with the caramel baking style of flan and came up with this. The result is somewhat less firm than the standard flan, but rich and satisfying without being too sweet.

The chocolate mousse recipe is something that I came up with after several years of trying different variations. The whipped cream and ground hazelnuts on top of the mousse add a mellowness to the rich chocolate that I think is absolutely essential.

About the Ingredients:

Heavy cream and egg yolks make for amazing flavors with inconceivable levels of fat. In the mousse, be warned that you are working with raw eggs, which have a higher likelihood of carrying bacteria that could make you sick. While there is some danger here, there are many gourmets who are willing to take the chance with undercooked or raw foods every day. If you are worried about such possibilities, stick with the crème caramel.

When you serve the crème caramel, the caramel will come out as a dark, watery syrup that will flow over the custard and onto the plate. When you are making the caramel however, it will solidify extremely quickly, so you will have to work fast. To clean the caramel out of the pot you made it in, fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil on the stove. This should dissolve the remaining sugar.

When grinding the chocolate chips for the mousse, use the pulse setting of your blender, or blend for only a few seconds at a time. In between blending, scrape the sides and bottom of the blender with a knife to keep the chocolate from sticking.

Crème Caramel

2 Cups Heavy Cream8 Egg Yolks, slightly beaten1 1/4 Cups Sugar1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 250°. In a heavy pot over medium low heat, melt 3/4 cup of sugar. Pour quickly into the bottoms of six oven-proof custard cups. Heat the heavy cream in a heavy pot over medium low heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the heavy cream into a mixing bowl with the eggs and whisk thoroughly. Add the remaining sugar and whisk thoroughly again. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the custard cups. Place the cups into a baking pan with one inch of cold water and place the pan into the oven. Bake until the custard has set, but still jiggles in the center, 11/2 hours. Allow the custard to cool at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before serving. To serve, run a knife along the edge of the custard and invert the dish onto a small plate allowing the caramel to run over the inverted custard.

Chocolate Mousse

1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips4 Eggs, separated 3 Tbsp. Hot Coffee3 Tbsp. Sugar1 Cup Heavy Cream1/4 Cup Hazelnuts, finely chopped or ground

In a blender, grind the chocolate chips for no more than a few seconds at a time until the mixture resembles a coarse powder. Dissolve two tablespoons of sugar in the hot coffee, pour the coffee into the blender and blend on high speed for several seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the blender to loosen any chocolate that is stuck and blend again for ten seconds. Add the four egg yolks and blend for several seconds. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites carefully and then distribute the mixture into six cups or glasses. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, top with the whipped cream and hazelnuts and serve immediately.