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Espresso – Chocolate Trio

…more specifically Eclairs with Dark Chocolate-Espresso Mousse, Espresso-Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme and Frozen Mascarpone-Espresso Parfait on Deep Dark Chocolate Cake. Although this was work related, this is how I spend my Saturday. I am not getting fancy on you all of a sudden but it was either this post or more puddings, creams and mousses. Yes, I seem to veer away from cakes lately as there are not one that strikes me, although I did find a couple to try today.

Friday afternoon I got a call from K., one of the chefs I used to work with at the restaurant asking me if I’d make the desserts for a fancy dinner of wine representatives next weekend because he did not have time and the Executive Chef in his usual fashion was throwing fits about everything regarding this event. I agreed and he finished our conversation by saying "ok, well you bake tomorrow and I’ll be at your house on Sunday, I trust you"….Why oh why, tell me that…he was going to jinx me! I had the list of wines and descriptions and samples to be served next weekend and for the most part of the afternoon I tried to come up with desserts made with them or complimenting them. I wrote, scratched, sketched, scratched…never happy. Finally I completely changed my course: there would be appetizers and entrees cooked with the wines, sauces and reductions, emulsions and stocks, and then desserts with more wine? Crazy! These people might appreciate a break, a true one: a coffee break. After spending my Friday evening (oh my life is fun!) working ideas on paper, I finally had a plan for Saturday.

I baked all day, tweaked the flavors after many a sip of wine..dang my job is tough!! At 9pm, I sat down with a good omelette and a chunk of bread, tired but happy…Oh boy! Do I miss those days when my restaurant kitchen was my lab, when K. and I used to have our lunch breaks upstairs bitching about Big. Exec. Chef, dreaming about our "dream orders" me wanting quinces in July and him exotic Chinese mushrooms for pennies. And then, we were always called back to the dirty grind of reality by the voice of Big Exec. through the intercom "Helen, we are 86 lemon tarts and brulees, get to work! K., the veal shanks ain’t gonna braise themselves!" It’s good to know that some time after I left the restaurant, K. still relies on my opinion and just frankly told Big f$#& off when he told him I was their dessert consult this time around! I was cracking up hearing their conversations…ah sweet revenge!!

Anyways, back to the desserts, largely inspired by my boyfriend Richard Leach (maybe I should tell him I "really" like him!), but tweaked to serve the guests in questions (read very tipsy after all that wine) and the logistics of the kitchen I would be baking and plating in: tight, busy, orchestrated like an assembly line that night so no time for me to come up with super fancy stuff. I am still working on a fruit based item, we just can’t make up our minds on what we like best, so that post will probably for next week. My initial "final" Saturday afternoon had mousse, an espresso shot and a parfait. I did not like the look of the mousse molded and plated, the espresso shot I had in mind was topped by a milk foam and that step only would require me to cross the whole kitchen with the hot line on one side and the dishwashers on the other side just to get to the frother on the other side of the waitstaff station..yeah right! The parfait was the only thing that stayed from my original thought, I just added the caramel corkscrew because I just can’t leave sugar alone! When K. came over Sunday, he was happy and relieved that I had taken that thorn out of his schedule. We drank and I fixed us spaghetti a la Lisa and we drank again…Not too shabby a weekend if I may say!

Espresso Trio:

Eclairs With Dark Chocolate Espresso Mousse: (serves 4)


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs

Heat oven to 375F. Heat water, sugar and butter in 3-quart saucepan to a rolling boil. Stir in flour. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool a few minutes. Beat in eggs, one at time making sure the eggs are well incorporated each time. The dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip with the batter and pipe fingers of dough about 3-4 inches long on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until puffed and darker brown on top, 20 minutes, let cool completely before filling with the mousse. You’ll have more than just for 4 servings but you can freeze the shells for up to 3 months.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Mousse:

3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup espresso
2 egg yolk
1 Tb sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Combine the chocolate, butter and espresso in a small saucepan over low heat until the chocolate melts and stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolk and sugar until pale. Fold the chocolate into the egg mixture. Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold it into the chocolate base. Refrigerate one hour before using. Fill the eclairs with the mousse. Dip them into the chocolate glaze. Let set in the fridge

Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup dark chocolate
1 Tb butter
2 Tb cream

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, add the butter and cream and stir until combined

Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme:

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup espresso beans, crushed
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate
5 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 300F. Heat the milk with the sugar and beans until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it steep for 20 minutes. Strain the beans and reheat briefly, add the chocolate and stir until well combined.
Whisk the egg yolks, and slowly add the hot chocolate milk,whisking until well combined. Strain and divide among 4 heat resistant glasses or dishes. Set them in a roasting pan and fill with water (limit depends on the height of your pan and your glasses but the higher the better for even baking). Bake until the custard is barely set, about 30 minutes. Remove from the pan, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to be plated, whip the cream to soft peaks and divide evenly among the glasses or dishes, sprinkle with cinnamon.

Mascarpone-Espresso Parfait:

1/2cup mascarpone cheese,at room temperature
1/4 cup strong espresso
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 cup heavy cream

In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese the espresso and 2 Tb sugar and whisk until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites adding the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks are formed. Fold into the mascarpone mixture.Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the egg-mascarpone base. Pipe or spoon into molds of your choice (I chose Flexipan Cannele molds). Freeze until ready to use.

Dark Chocolate Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (like Hershey’s special dark)
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tb salt (really, not a typo, but it does wonder with the parfait above)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 cup warm water

Preheat the oven to 325F.
Cream the butter, cocoa and sugar together until smooth. Add the baking powder,baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until smooth and add the eggs, then the water very slowly. Pour the batter into a 8×8 inch pan lined with buttered foil or parchment paper. Bake 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to plate, cut out circles a little larger than the diameter of the parfait base and set the parfaits on top.

For the decorations, I made a simple chocolate sauce and espresso flavored creme anglaise as well as caramel corkscrew but feel free to skip or use other things. Same with the trio: make one, two or all and have fun! All the components work together, but also separately for lighter bites and they can be made over several days, and kept refrigerated or frozen (the parfaits).

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Bungeegal January 8, 2008 um 6:03 am

OMGosh…the chocolate trio looks absolutely AMAZING!

Peabody January 8, 2008 um 6:42 am

Wow, look at all that you over achiever! 🙂 Gorgeous.
Yeah, I have been making puddings and all things eaten with a spoon lately. I forced myself to make a cake today.

Mercotte January 8, 2008 um 7:22 am

tout ce que j’aime réuni dans tes 3 interprétations ! Superbe

Rosa's Yummy Yums January 8, 2008 um 8:32 am

Wow, mindblowing and extremely mouthwatering! Very beautiful!



Meeta K. Wolff January 8, 2008 um 8:36 am

This is a chocolate addicts fanatsy come true. Simply outstanding!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy January 8, 2008 um 10:06 am

I love that caramel corkscrew – have you posted about how to make them somewhere??

Joanna January 8, 2008 um 10:22 am

Since my husband’s heart attack, we don’t eat much pudding/dessert, so reading your blog is an essential "fix" for me … these are particularly wonderful.

And, like Sara, I’m wondering whether you’ve posted how to make the caramel corkscrew, because when I DO make dessert (birthdays, mainly), I like to make it special

Thanks for sharing

monica January 8, 2008 um 10:47 am

i love love love richard leach! and of course his cookbook haha. i actually had the pleasure of dining at park avenue autumn this past fall and got to finally sample some of his desserts. yum!

Anonymous January 8, 2008 um 11:28 am

What an experience! Everything looks great.
I especially like the look of the Pots de Creme.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) January 8, 2008 um 12:31 pm

I would happily skip the dinner and the wine just to get to that dessert. Each one looks so beautiful!

Veron January 8, 2008 um 1:07 pm

If I know dessert was going to be this fantastic I’d gladly skip dinner! How do you make those fancy caramel corkscrew?

April January 8, 2008 um 1:17 pm

Oh my! These look amazing!

Cheryl January 8, 2008 um 1:27 pm

Wow, just wow. Seriously you are insanely talented. When he said he trusted you he definitely knew what he was doing. You make the most amazing creations.

Finla January 8, 2008 um 2:15 pm

Wow i woudn’t know which one to choose so i guess i will take all three.Just delicious

Michelle Beissel January 8, 2008 um 2:20 pm

I, too, am smitten with the caramel corkscrew–I thought at first it was a lovely golden ribbon, but was delighted to discover it is edible!

Wonderful desserts!

tara January 8, 2008 um 2:20 pm

Well done, absolutely note-perfect. Elegant and restrained while still lusciously indulgent – what more could one ask for?

FrancescoP January 8, 2008 um 2:27 pm

This looks delicious!
My first visit here and not the last for sure. Nice blogs and I like the last desserts

breadchick January 8, 2008 um 2:29 pm

Oh…I want to be a wine representative next weekend….

Those looks so good and wonderful.

Dana January 8, 2008 um 3:54 pm

Wow, you are a huge rock star. Looks amazing!

Brilynn January 8, 2008 um 4:16 pm

You’ve certainly outdone yourself, those look fantastic! I’m sure everyone was thrilled!

Mandy January 8, 2008 um 4:46 pm

I love three of them. Can I come over anytime soon? Will you make extra of any of these?

Aimée January 8, 2008 um 5:10 pm

Beautifully done, Helen. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday! Thank you for the recipe for éclairs, I have been craving them and am planning on whipping up some soon.

Mary January 8, 2008 um 5:17 pm

Those are so pretty! I’d love to know how to make the carmel corkscrew too.

Anonymous January 8, 2008 um 5:30 pm

I am lusting after ALL of these desserts. The eclairs look heavenly.

Bonne annee et meilleurs voeux!


Merav January 8, 2008 um 5:40 pm

Once again, you’ve outdone yourself! I am amazed and wish I could have been part of that dinner party!

MyKitchenInHalfCups January 8, 2008 um 5:51 pm

Right on Meeta: chocolate addicts fanatsy come true.
No, no Breadchick I want Helen for my personal pastry chef in a land where butter and sugar are calorie free then I’d only have to work off the sugar!
So how many of us have ask: How do you make the corkscrews? I’ll just add: I’m waiting Helen!

Bea January 8, 2008 um 6:18 pm

what a great job indeed, with a wonderful result, comme d’habitude.
Une tres tres bonne annee a toi Helen!

Lesley January 8, 2008 um 6:44 pm

That looks so great. It is so satisfying to create something that not only looks beautiful but melts your taste buds too!

Hillary January 8, 2008 um 6:45 pm

Nice work – I’m sure those wine aficionados will be delighted to taste those!

Anonymous January 8, 2008 um 6:54 pm

these are just stunning. they look like something i would be served at the very best restaurants in nyc. i’m sure they were absolutely delicious!

Unknown January 8, 2008 um 7:48 pm

Beautiful, as always!

WokandSpoon January 8, 2008 um 8:01 pm

That’s what I call 'death by chocolate'!! Yum! Trop bon!

Anonymous January 8, 2008 um 8:20 pm

Oh my, talk about an incredible spread… This is practically a feast of sweets! Everything looks -amazing-!

Jenny January 8, 2008 um 8:52 pm


Parisbreakfasts January 8, 2008 um 10:34 pm


Glorious Desserts!

I love all the inside pro kitchen gossip too 🙂

LizNoVeggieGirl January 8, 2008 um 11:35 pm

okay, let me get this straight: you made Eclairs with Dark Chocolate-Espresso Mousse, Espresso-Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme AND Frozen Mascarpone-Espresso Parfait with Deep Dark Chocolate Cake??? Talk about a decadently divine weekend!! And a FUN one, at that :0)

JEP January 9, 2008 um 1:22 am

I would be delighted if I could taste any one of your creations!

Susan @ SGCC January 9, 2008 um 1:39 am

Wow! A triple whammy! Those desserts look absolutely divine. I can feel my blood sugar rising just looking at them.

Nora B. January 9, 2008 um 2:58 am

Hi Helen, it was enjoyable reading about the process of how you came about with the ideas for these beautiful & elegant desserts. Although it was tiring for you, I’m sure you felt the high of the "eureka" moment when get finalised your ideas.

Anonymous January 9, 2008 um 8:18 am

Vous nous mettez l’eau à la bouche ! Votre site est vraiment très bien fait, très esthétique et beaucoup de créativité. Je connais aussi le site de Mercotte. Il m’arrive de peindre des gâteaux mais aussi de les manger !
Bonne continuation pour 2008

Anonymous January 9, 2008 um 8:49 am

Very pretty and very delicious! I don’t like drinking (regular) coffee but eating it….yum!

Anonymous January 9, 2008 um 9:12 am

dear tartelette,

thank you for the beautiful pear post. seeing that pic brought back many happy memories for me.

there was this wonderful cakeshop that offered charlotte aux poires with tart raspberry sauce, it was my fav cake and we had it on birthdays.

the cake shop has since closed and i could never remember the name of the cake until ur post.

thank you 🙂 it brought back many happy fuzzy memories.

if you have a charlotte aux poires recipe to share, please email me at [email protected].

many thanks

Linda & Christina January 9, 2008 um 1:36 pm

wow! I just LOVE your blog! It is truly beautiful, and makes me so inpired.. I just want to bake and bake, and bake! Thank you!
I tried macing macarons for the first time, using your recipe, the other day,and it was so much fun 😀 I could really use some practise though…

Big Boys Oven January 9, 2008 um 2:46 pm


M January 9, 2008 um 3:46 pm

Those eclairs look amazing. I made eclairs a few times and they were not to fluffy and another time they were kinda "egg-y" tasting. Any tips you can give me on them?

Cookie baker Lynn January 9, 2008 um 4:03 pm

What a tough life you lead, indeed. It’s all gorgeous. I especially love, love the caramel corkscrew!

Kimberly Ann January 9, 2008 um 4:55 pm

This makes dieting really tough, you know! Looks incredible.

Anonymous January 9, 2008 um 6:11 pm

Crumbs! These three look so intricate and amazing – congratulations! I wish i could try them but if i can squeeze in the time i may just attempt one of the recipes, the question is – which one?

Evelin January 10, 2008 um 9:00 am

reading this makes me miss the so-called 'gourmand evenings' I had with two friends for quite some time. For me, as I am a bit crazy, this meant preparing some things in advance and then cooking for 2 days:) Unfortunately on of my friends lives in US this year as an exchange student and the only 'evenings' we have are through Skype…
I’d really like to jump into these dessert!

And, of course, it is a real pleasure to be your adoptee! Yippee!:)

Anonymous January 11, 2008 um 3:04 am

oh WOW tartlette! you have won my heart forever with this creamy chocolate trio. well worth all your efforts, thx for the recipes 😉

Cakebrain January 11, 2008 um 7:03 pm

gee whiz Helene,
The chocolate trio is inspirational and perfect eye candy! Thanks goodness reading your blog is calorie-free!

Cynthia January 12, 2008 um 2:06 am

I know…I am evil to make apple and cider beignets, to take their pictures and put them here while some of you have made food related New Year’s resolutions. – not me, I don’t think you’re evil at all 🙂 Adjustments, now that’s a word I can rally around!

Jaime January 16, 2008 um 3:37 am

wow… i am not a huge coffee person but that all looks so good i am pondering some of the recipes!

Anonymous March 26, 2008 um 5:33 pm

What a beautiful food blog!!!

100%Gourmande June 27, 2008 um 10:54 am

Mum , I want a plate !!!

Coffee and Vanilla July 25, 2008 um 9:22 am

What a trio! 🙂
Love it, Margot

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