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Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cakes

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cakes & Latte Ice Cream

"You sound like you are far away…there are lots of fuzzies on the line", my mom said earlier on the phone as I was standing on the edge of the water watching Bailey timidly dip his paws in the cold marsh.
"Well mom…I am far away…and outside and it’s really cold and rainy. That’s probably why".
"I know where you are, obviously but what on earth are you doing outside in the rain?"
"I am taking a taking a trip home"
"This is picture perfect January Parisian weather, mom. It’s cold, it’s damp, I can smell the leaves, the grass and I can hear the silence"
"hear the silence. Your grandma used to say that."

Well, I doubt it was bliss, peace of mind, or calm I experienced then as my feet were getting cold and the dog was looping around his leash from boredom but this moment spent outside did make me feel at home for a short while. Mom advised I got in and made myself some coffee, to which I enthusiastically agreed as I had the perfect slice of cake to go with it. Turned the coffee pot on and plated that one little cake I had saved and sat down in front of the fireplace. Then it felt cozy and warm…all the way down to my chilled bones. The temperatures have indeed dipped quite dramatically for the region and I may be the only crazy out there walking with a smile on my face, happy to bundle up in extra layers. It really put me in a mood for chocolate, coffee-ish and/or nutty desserts.

Making Chocolate Mousse

When a friend called asking if I could make a cake for a dinner party of 8 she was hosting, I don’t think I even asked her preference. I happily volunteered a moist chocolate cake filled with a silky and rich chocolate mousse with a touch of espresso. I also made a pint of latte ice cream for her to plate with it. A couple days later she called as I was putting the layers in the oven and inquired how the cakes were coming along. I drew a blank, my blood froze solid. "Cakes? How many do you need for 8?!!". She figured that since I like to make individual desserts that I would make petits cakes while I thought since she liked larger cakes that she was expecting one tall cake. Hmmm…since two 8-inch layers were already in the oven I said I’d make eight cakes out of that, somehow.

Instead of trying to cut 16 rounds, fit them into rings and fill with mousse, I went on with my original idea, only slightly modified. Once the layers were baked and cooled, I layered them with the mousse, refrigerated until set, cut the cake in 8 servings and cut off the round edge of each slice so they would stand straight on a plate. I decided to skip an icing of buttercream or ganache as the mousse was already rich. I used the trimmed tops of the cakes instead and I broke these into pieces, dried them in the oven, processed them to fine crumbs and coated each individual gateau with those.

One couple could not make it to the party. Their loss, our choco-espresso bliss…

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake & Latte Ice Cream

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake Recipe:

Serves 8

For the cake:
1 stick (113gr) butter
1 cup (200gr) sugar
1/2 cup (45gr) natural cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups (185gr) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5gr) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5gr) espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5gr) baking soda
1 cup (250ml) warm water

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter two 8-inch round baking pans, sprinkle some flour into the pans, shake it around and tap the excess off. Line the bottoms with two 8 inch circles of parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. On low speed, add the cocoa and mix until incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure they are properly mixed in. Add the flour, baking powder, espresso powder and baking soda and mix on medium-low speed while slowly adding the warm water and mix until smooth. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature and unmold the cakes.
Lower the oven temperature to 300F. Level the cakes by trimming the tops off and break them in pieces. Place those on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until dried. Let cool completely and process them until smooth in food processor. Set the crumbs aside.

For the mousse:
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (62.5ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 stick (55gr) butter
1 egg yolk
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream, cold

In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure that the bowl fits snuggly over the pan and does not touch the water), melt together the chocolate, milk, espresso powder and butter. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the egg yolk. In a mixer, whip the cream to medium peaks and fold it into the chocolate mixture.

To assemble:
Place one cake layer in a springform pan, top with the mousse and place the second cake layer on top. Refrigerate until the mousse is firm, about one hour. Run a knife dipped in hot water around the edge of the cake and unmold. Use a long knife to cut the cake into 8 slices and make sure to dip it in hot water and wipe it clean each time to get clean cuts. Trim the ends of each slices to obtain triangles. Coat each piece with the reserved cake crumbs.
Serve with ice cream or some whipped cream if desired.

Lavender And Espresso Truffles

Lavender And Espresso Truffles

Christmas is right around the corner isn’t it?! I am fully in the holiday spirit, at least I think I am. No, I know I am once I get home, close the door and start baking and filling boxes with goodies to be shipped off to friends and given to the family on Christmas day. Indeed, it’s been a little strange looking at snowmen and pine trees while we were in shorts today…no kidding. Well, B. was because I am a "frileuse" as we say back home; always chilly. I am currently living winter vicariously through my pal Jen in Colorado who keeps filling my head with pictures of snow, ice, skiing and delicious holiday treats while I am rolling truffles.

We all have our traditions comes Christmas and there are a couple that my family never miss. My grandmother was famous for her marzipan stuffed dates and walnuts while since I was old enough to hold a spatula, I have been the one making truffles. I flew home the first Christmas after my grandma died and without exchanging a word one night my mom went to the pantry, pulled out the dates, nuts and marzipan and we made the stuffed fruits. There was quite a bit of reminiscing, a lot of crying and raw feelings shared. It was one of the best moments of my life. Through my grandma’s passing I discovered what it meant for my mom to continue with certain things just the way they were. It brings people together, it gives you a breakthrough or a headache but your heart is full and your soul growing.

While grandma was playing with marzipan, I was never more than a couple of feet away, strirring and scooping and rolling ganache for truffles. You can safely assume that once I moved here, this is the one thing I never miss doing during the holidays. The truffle batter I use is a basic ganache that I flavor differently depending on my mood or what people ask for. Depending on the time available I might hand dip them in tempered chocolate (Go Jen!) and decorate them but this year it is so not happening so I made them the way we do in my family, rolled in cocoa or nuts, etc…


I have only made two kinds so far, lavender infused truffles and espresso truffles. Once the ganache was made, I let it harden in the fridge for a couple of hours and then scooped out little balls that I rolled and place on a parchment baking sheet and place them "naked" back in the fridge. The reason behind this little "curing" it is to help them develop a natural skin so that the cocoa powder won’t seep in the truffles as they stand waiting for their delicious (for you!) fate. On the other hand I find it a lot easier to have the nuts adhere to the chocolate right after you have rolled them in between your hands and your body heat has softened the ganache a bit.

I made a firm ganache with semisweet chocolate (Callebaut) and since all chocolate vary, your ganache may set up differently so if it turns out too soft, add more chocolate in your next batch or if it was too firm add a little more cream. I used a ratio of 8 oz of chocolate for 1/2 cup of cream but if you want to use milk or white chocolate increase the ratio to 12 oz for the same amount of cream. Adding alcohol will soften the ganache unless you add the same amount of chocolate so for every ounce of liqueur (about 2 tablespoons) that you use, increase the chocolate by one ounce also. For milk or white ganaches, add 2 ounces of chocolate for every ounce of liqueur. If you want to know more about chocolate, I strongly recommend this wonderful book "The Art Of Chocolate" by Elaine Gonzales.

Lavender Truffles

Makes 30 to 35 truffles

1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (1gr) edible lavender buds
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
cocoa powder for rolling

In a small heavy saucepan placed over low heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let stand 30 minutes. Strain the lavender and bring the cream back to a simmer. Once hot, add the chocolate and let stand for a couple of minutes then stir until the ganache is completely smooth. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. With a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out balls of ganache, roll them in between your palms fairly quickly and set them on a baking sheet. Refrigerate overnight. Roll them in the cocoa powder and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Espresso Truffles:

Makes 30-35

1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons espresso powder
2 tablespoons (1 oz) coffee liqueur
9 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pistachios

In a small heavy saucepan, bring the cream and espresso powder to a simmer over low heat. Add the liqueur and remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and let stand a couple of minutes then stir the ganache until completely smooth.Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. With a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out balls of ganache, roll them in between your palms fairly quickly and roll them in the pistachios and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Lavender And Espresso Truffles

For more cookies and sweet treat ideas, check Susan’s Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 2!