Chocolate talks to me. Dessert talks to me. This is an unforgettable dessert I served at one of my simchas. A Verrine is layers of different textured foods in a glass (sweet or savory). This is the ultimate chocolate dessert - basically a deconstructed take on a devil’s food cake including four components: a dense chocolate cake, creamy chocolate mousse, a rich chocolate sauce and a crunchy, salty cocoa nib streusel. If you are short on time (who isn’t?), you can use any devil’s food cake mix for this recipe.
This recipe is from Elizabeth FalknerC from Fine Cooking magazine.
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter or margarine; more for the pan
- 3-1/2 oz. (1 cup) cake flour (if you don’t have, use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons flour)
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 2 oz. (2/3 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1/2 cup hot freshly brewed coffee
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (use 1 Tbsp lemon juice and add soy or parve milk to make 1/2 cup)
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
For the Mousse:
- 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3 oz. milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (if making parve use all bittersweet chocolate)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 Tbs. honey or light corn syrup
- 2 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup heavy cream or parve equivalent
For the Streusel:
- 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 5 oz. (1 cup plus 2 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 oz. cocoa nibs (about 1/3 cup) (I haven’t been able to find this in my area. You can omit if this is the case.)
- 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
For the Sauce:
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup heavy cream or parve equivalent
- 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
- Pinch kosher salt
- 2 Tbs. dark rum (not extract)
Make the Cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Butter an 8x8x2-inch square cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, and butter the parchment.
Sift the cake flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt onto a piece of parchment. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and the coffee over medium heat to melt the butter. Transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk, egg, and yolk and then the flour mixture until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto the rack, remove the parchment, and cool completely. (Cake may be frozen for later use.)
Make the Mousse
Melt the bittersweet and milk chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk the yolks and the syrup over the water bath just until warm. Remove from the heat and whisk briefly to cool.
With an electric hand mixer on medium speed, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes.
With the mixer on medium-high speed, whip the cream in another medium bowl until soft peaks form.
Whisk the yolk mixture into the melted chocolate. Whisk in a spoonful of the whipped cream. With a rubber spatula fold in the remaining whipped cream and then the egg whites. Refrigerate. (The mousse can be made up to 4 hours ahead.)
Make the Streusel
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, stir the flour and cocoa powder. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture in three increments, including the cocoa nibs and salt with the final addition. Mix until the dough comes together. (The dough can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to 2 months.)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and press the dough into the pan in a 1/4-inch-thick layer.
Bake at 325°F for 8 minutes and then rake with a fork to break into medium clumps. Bake for 7 minutes more and rake again to create small pieces. The streusel will look sandy and will crisp as it cools. (The streusel can be made 1 day ahead or frozen for longer. Use extra streusel over ice cream.)
Make the Sauce
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Put the cream, syrup, salt, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, pour over the chocolate, and stir to melt.
Divide the warm chocolate sauce among twelve 8-oz. glasses. Cut the cake into 1-inch cubes and put 4 in each glass. Drizzle 1/2 tsp. of the rum on the cake cubes. Scoop a spoonful or a quenelle (oval shaped scoop) of mousse into each glass. Sprinkle about 2 Tbs. of streusel on top of the mousse, and serve.
Make Ahead Tips
The cake can be baked 1 day ahead. The streusel dough can be refrigerated for a week, and baked up to 1 day ahead. The mousse can be made up to 4 hours ahead.
Photo: Scott Phillips