Video: Bittman’s tips for the perfect chocolate mousse
Recipe: Chocolate mousse
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 ounces chocolate, chopped
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cream
Fill a small or medium saucepan about halfway with water and put over high heat. Find a bowl that sits comfortably in the pot so the bottom just touches the water (or is close). When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat so it bubbles gently. Put the butter and chocolate in the bowl and set it in the saucepan to rig a double boiler.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove it from the heat and stir the mixture until it's completely smooth. Let it cool until you can hold the bowl, then whisk in the egg yolks and the vanilla. Put the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture holds stiff peaks, 30 to 45 seconds. Wash the beaters; put the cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a separate, smaller mixing bowl and beat with the electric mixer until the cream holds soft peaks, 20 to 30 seconds.
Stir a couple of spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites thoroughly but gently with a rubber spatula. Fold in the cream just enough so that there are no streaks of white, then refrigerate until chilled. Eat within a day; to serve, transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or individual cups.
Time: 30 minutes, plus time to chill
Recipe: Coconut layer cake
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans and paper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 recipe Vanilla buttercream (below)
- Vanilla buttercream
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) softened butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar, plus more if necessary
- 1/2 cup cream or milk, plus more if necessary
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
For the vanilla buttercream, cream the butter. Put the butter in a large bowl. (It's got to be soft enough to spread.) Beat with an electric mixer until the butter becomes light colored and, well, creamy. Add some sugar. Measure out 4 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 cup cream or milk. Start by beating in 2 cups of the sugar.
Alternate sugar with cream. After beating the sugar, add 2 tablespoons of the cream and another 1/2 cup of sugar. Repeat until all the sugar and cream are gone. After the last addition, beat in the vanilla extract and salt. Adjust the consistency. If the icing is too thick to spread, add a little more cream, 1 teaspoon at a time. If it's too thin (unlikely but possible), refrigerate; it will thicken as the butter hardens.
For the coconut layer cake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans; cover the bottom with a circle of wax or parchment paper, grease the paper, and sift flour over the pans. Shake to distribute the flour evenly, turn the pans upside down, and tap over the sink to remove the excess flour. Cream the 1 1/4 sticks butter with an electric mixer until smooth, then gradually add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, 3 or 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup of the coconut, and the salt; add to the egg mixture by hand, a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Stir after each addition just until smooth.
Pour the batter into the pans and smooth out the tops. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then invert the pans and slide the cakes onto a rack to finish cooling. Fill, stack, and frost the layers directly on a large plate: Figure 1/3 of the icing and 1/2 cup coconut for the middle, 1/3 of the icing for the top, and 1/3 of the icing for the sides. Press the remaining coconut into the icing all over the cake. Serve or store at room temperature, covered with a tent of foil, for a day or two.
Time: About 1 hour, plus time to cool
At least 10 servings
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