"A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift."

Laurie Colwin

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Posh pudding

Chocolat Liégeois is hot chocolate, French style, ie. totally, completely, over the top.  Hot chocolate, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Chantilly cream over the top.  But wait, there’s more if you so desire.  Chocolate sauce drizzled over?  Chocolate sprinkles?  Oh, why the heck not.

But the country that invented the term trompe l’oeil also invented another  Chocolat Liégeois:  a creamy dessert served in gorgeous coffee cups, goblets or milkshake glasses to look – quelle surprise! – like the hot chocolate bevvie

Chocolat Liégeois is, hands down, my favourite chocolate “spoon sweet”.  Chocolate mousse?  Pffft.  Forget it.  All it will take is one spoonful to see that this is soul food at its most seductive.  The silky and rich chocolate layer may be called Crème Viennoise, but the rest of us will recognise it for the rather posh version of chocolate blancmange or (in the US) chocolate pudding it is.  Denser and creamier, it pushes all the right buttons for We Who Love Chocolate and relegates mousse to the “yummy but wimpy” corner where it belongs.

It is also the easiest thing in the world to make, and it is nice and adaptable:  you can fiddle with the fat of the milk, add additional flavours, and play with the chocolate.  For my friend Stella’s 40th birthday, I made a couple hundred shot glasses of Chocolat Liégeois, half with dark chocolate, half with white.  White chocolate is not my cup of tea (or Chocolat Liégeois, come to that), but they were both yummed up – no leftovers whatsoever.

Chocolat Liégeois
(Makes 6 chocoholic servings.  You’ll see from my pix that I made these in shot glasses: the amount below is enough for about 30 shots.)

The egg yolks are optional, but I strongly advise you use them:  they give additional silkiness.

Les ingrédients:

For the Crème Viennoise –
1 l. milk
4 tbsp. cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tbsp. sugar
300g. dark cooking chocolate, chopped
3 egg yolks

For the Chantilly cream –
300ml thickened cream
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla essence

La méthode:

1. To make Crème Viennoise: whisk together milk, cornflour and sugar in a saucepan, and stir constantly over medium heat until mixture simmers and thickens.  (You probably already know this, but it bears repeating:  cornflour/cornstarch mixtures MUST come to the boil.  Don’t fear lumps or curdling, just keep stirring.  If you don’t, you won’t get the proper texture, and to add insult to injury, will have a floury-tasting mixture.)
2. Remove mixture from heat.  Add chocolate, and stir constantly until it melts.  Lightly whisk egg yolks, then add a few tablespoons of the hot mixture, stir, and add to the pan.  Return saucepan to a low heat, stirring constantly, for about a minute or until mixture coats the back of the spoon.  Working quickly, pour chocolate mixture into six goblets or clear coffee cups, or just ordinary coffee cups if you want to give your guests a nice surprise when you bring out the “coffee”. Place in refrigerator to cool completely.
3. Chantilly cream: combine all ingredients, then beat with electric beaters until firm peaks form. Pipe into pretty swirls onto the Crème Viennoise.

Et voilá, c’est prêt! Très facile et très miam! Bon appétit!

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