Friday 6 February 2009

Trio of Miniature Chocolate Desserts

As promised, here is the chocolate trio for the choice of desserts made for my mums birthday. It comprised of a rich chocolate, orange and Cointreau tart, a moist chocolate brownie and a velvety smooth chocolate mousse served in espresso cups, complete with cream ‘foam’ and tuile biscuit ‘stream.’

I tried to choose desserts which would look good as individual miniature desserts as we wanted everyone to have their own complete dessert rather than a slice of one. I know the brownies were served as a slice, but I think that’s allowed. I deliberated over exactly what to choose for some time, I wanted each dessert to have different tastes and textures, no two things with pastry or no two spongy things etc.

The brownies were moist and tender and full of chocolaty flavour. Served slightly warm with a small blob of ice cream they are heavenly. This is my go to recipe whenever the need for brownies arises.

I had recently found some gold food dust that said you could dilate a little in water to make into a paint. I was longing to try it out and so used it to add some shiny dots to the top of the chocolate and orange tart, which I think really finished it off and made it look special. The tart had a wonderful rich chocolate flavour and as the chocolate melted on your tongue the fresh orange flavour came through and finished with a subtle boozy note. I’m not a fan of orange flavoured chocolate, but the mix of dark chocolate with fresh orange is divine.

The chocolate mousse is silky smooth if eaten straight away but firms up slightly after a few hours in the fridge. It dissolves seductively on your tongue, filling your whole mouth with a chocolate intensity, so good quality chocolate is a must. I think this was my favourite dessert of the bunch and I loved the look of it in the espresso cups.

Chocolate Brownie
(Recipe from Leiths Baking Bible)
140g butter
200g dark chocolate
180g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
85g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
80g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line the base of a 8inch/20cm square tin.
Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place into a large bowl along with the butter. Melt gently over a pan of simmering water until smooth. (The water should not touch the base of the bowl)
Remove the bowl from the heat and beat in the vanilla and the sugar.
Beat the eggs in one at a time, until thick and glossy.
Sift over the flour and baking powder and beat until no flour streaks remain.
Chop the white chocolate into small chunks and fold in the brownie batter.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until slightly risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs, rather than wet batter, sticking to it.
Allow to cool almost completely in the tin. Remove from the tin and cut into 9-12 pieces.
Store in an airtight container lined with greaseproof for up to three days.
Great when served slightly warm with a blob of ice cream.

Chocolate, Orange & Cointreau Tart
250g sweet shortcrust pastry
150ml double cream
150g dark chocolate
1 orange
1 tbsp Cointreau
Gold food dust/dye or white chocolate for decoration

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cut out circles of pastry and press into miniature tart tins. Trim off any excess. Chill for 30 minutes.
Lay a small square of clingfilm on top of the pastry tins and fill each cavity with baking beans or rice. Gather the clingfilm around it to use as a weight.
Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, then remove the rice weight and bake for a further 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp.
Set aside until cool.
Pour the cream into a small saucepan and grate the zest from the orange on top. Heat gently until small bubbles begin to appear.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the top of the chocolate and stir gently until smooth.
Stir in the Cointreau and immediately fill the pastry cases with the chocolate mix.
Leave until set.
Dissolve a little of the gold food dust in water and paint dots over the surface of the chocolate tart. (Use melted white chocolate in place of dust if you prefer).
Makes 12-15 miniature tarts.

Chocolate Espresso Cup Mousse

40g caster sugar
2 tsp honey
3 tsp water
3 egg yolks
175g dark chocolate
350ml double cream

Tuile squiggles
150ml double cream
Dark chocolate for grating

Place the sugar, honey and water into a small saucepan and heat to simmering point, then allow to bubble for 3 minutes until syrupy but still clear in colour.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with an electric whisk until pale, thick and more than doubled in volume.
While still whisking, slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the egg yolks. Continuing to beat until the mixture has cooled, around 3-5 minutes.
Brake the chocolate into pieces and add to a small saucepan along with 50ml of cream. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until the chocolate has melted and it looks smooth and shiny. Remove from the heat and pour into a separate bowl to cool slightly.
Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Take a third and beat it into the melted chocolate to slacken the mix. (It may take a while to fold in, but keep mixing and it will suddenly turn).
Add the chocolate mix to the egg yolks and fold in using a spatula.
Fold in the rest of the cream until no streaks remain but do not over mix to try and keep it as light as possible.
Spoon the chocolate mousse into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle.
Pipe into espresso cups, filling almost to the top. Store in the fridge until required.
Just before serving, lightly whip the double cream and pipe on to create the ‘foam.’ Grate over a little dark chocolate and top with squiggly ‘steam’ tuile biscuits.
Makes 10-12 espresso cup mousse


Beth (jamandcream) said...

I love the sound of all of them - especially the brownies

Johanna GGG said...

Sounds wonderfully decadent and delicious - i would most definitely prefer a plate of the chocolate desserts than the fruity ones - after all there is orange in the chocolate ones so it is not as though I wouldn't have some fruit

Snooky doodle said...

this trio is triple delicious ! I would have each one of these desserts :) yummy !!!

Anonymous said...

oooo! The chocolate tart is calling my name! All the desserts look amazing and decadent.

The Caked Crusader said...

Wow - your presentation is up there with top restaurants. I'm so impressed.
The cointreau tart looks particularly beautiful. I bet your mum was delighted.

Jo said...

This is definitely a chocoholic's heaven! Delicious.

Sam said...

It all sounds delicious, I especially like the biscuits with the mousse, it looks fantastic

Lisa said...

Oh that tart is one of the prettiest I've ever seen. You really could put a restaurant to shame. :)

Rosie said...

Oh my what a treat they all are divine but the tart i can hear calling my name!

Rosie x