Thursday, April 19, 2007

HHDD # 11: Mousse!

About a month ago, I went to dinner my girlfriend Jessica to a lovely restaurant I'd been dying to go to. I liked it so much, I convinced my husband to take me there the very next night. Both visits, Michel’s Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Bars were ordered. I'm assuming that Patrick Bazin is pals with Michel Richard. (Lucky!) I have a girlfriend that has been to Richard's Citronelle in DC, and she's also had these yummy little bars. We were delighted to find the recipe in his book.

This recipe is wordy, no doubt about it. But don't be scared, it flows pretty easily, and before you know it, you're done. The first time I made these bars, I skipped making the sauce - and they were still great. This second time, I went ahead and made the sauce, and man-o-man, its well worth it. The nutty goodness that is left in the strainer is sooooo good, you should save it. I would have, but Dave came out (ok, ok, I called him out to taste it), declared the goo "highly edible" and proceeded to smear it on his ice cream. I might have helped. :)

This is my first month participating in Hay Hay Its Donna Day! and I hope you like it!

PS: O yah! Go to Tartelette and vote (ends 4/29)!!

Bottom Layer
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons peanut oil
7 ounces milk chocolate, melted and at body temperature
1 ¼ cups crushed cornflakes

Top Layer
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
5 ounces 60% semisweet chocolate, melted and at body temperature

Hazelnut Sauce (makes ¾ cup)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup (about 2 ounces) roasted hazelnuts, skins removed

Unsweetened cocoa power
1 pint raspberries
Whipped cream

Line an 8-inch square pan with plastic wrap, letting it overhang on all sides.

For the bottom layer, place the peanut butter and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium to medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Reduce the speed to low, add the chocolate, and mix for a minute, or until thoroughly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the cornflakes.

Pour into the prepared pan. Using a small offset spatula, spread the mixture into an even layer, being sure to reach into the corners. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

For the top layer, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Place the chocolate in a medium to large bowl. Working fairly quickly, fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Fold in the remaining cream.

Pour the mixture over the bottom layer and spread into an even layer, being sure to reach into the corners. Bang the bottom of the pan against the work surface to eliminate any air bubbles in the top layer.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the top layer is set, at least 4 hours. (At this point, the dessert can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

For the hazelnut sauce, stir the sugar and water together in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat just to moisten the sugar, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the caramel is a light amber. If any sugar crystals cling to the sides of the pan as the caramel cooks, brush them down with a damp pastry brush.
Meanwhile, combine the cream and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm (warming the liquid will help to keep the sugar from hardening when the liquid is added.) Set aside in a warm spot.

When the caramel is light amber, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the hazelnuts, coating them in the caramel. Return the pan to the heat, add the cream mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. The nuts should be thoroughly coated and the caramel liquefied, without any solid pieces. Transfer to a large blender (be careful, the mixture will be hot.)

Cover the top of the feed tube with a towel and process until the nuts are finely ground. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. (The sauce can also be refrigerated, covered, for 3 days.)

One hour before serving, remove the pan from the refrigerator. Using the plastic overhang, remove the block from the pan and place on the work surface. Peel off the plastic. It is best to cut the bars with a warm large knife. Have a deep container of hot water nearby; dip the knife into the water, and dry with a kitchen towel before each cut. Cut into sixteen 4-by1-inch bars.

Using a tea strainer, or a fine-mesh sieve, dust the tops of the bars with cocoa powder: Brush gently so the cocoa fills in any small holes. Let the cocoa sink in for a minute, then dust a second time for a smooth finish.

Arrange 4 bars on each serving plate. Spoon the sauce around the bars, and garnish with the whipped cream and raspberries.


Helene said...

I saw this recipe and have not had the chance to make it yet. I am glad to see it here in such a gorgeous presentation. Great entry!

Shawnda said...

It looks like such a decadent treat!

Cheryl said...

This looks so good. You are making my stomach growl.

Kristen said...

So... this is going in my "to try" folder. Looks great! :)

Barbara said...

I love the name of the dessert almost as much as the dessert. Thank you for joining HHDD.

Lis said...

Holy cow that looks amazing! I could probably eat just the crust and die a happy woman! heheee Thanks for sharing the recipe, I've copied it and will be making these for the next special occasion that rolls around. =)


Culinarily Curious said...

This is absolutely stunning -- a grown up version of a kid's favorite and a perfect end to a special meal.

Kristen said...

Congrats on winning. This is a beautiful entry and the win was very well deserved!

Laura said...

I think I have almost everything to hand so I'll get stuck in right now! Congratulations on your win!

veron said...

Congrats for winning! In fact, the hubby and I just got back from DC paying homage to Michel Richard's Citronelle. We were pigs so we had the 10 course menu and the last two were desserts which were amazing and yummy!

kellypea said...

I really like the looks of your variation. Definitely one to hang on to and try. If only there were no calories.

ParisBreakfasts said...

I LOVE the look of this thing...I'm trying not to let my taste buds get involved...purely an aesthetic experience..hmmmm