I wanted a gourmet/retro/artsy dessert for some company we were having. I also just learned that if you flash-cool chocolate (thank you, Jean-Pierre Wybauw), it is moldable for a few seconds. So I made some little chocolate "nests" and meringue birds for this fabulous mousse.I know this looks involved, but nothing is extremely hard and it's a beautiful dessert.
Tip: make the birds up to 2 weeks ahead and keep in a sealed container or freezer. I used the extra birds on my girls' cereal in the morning to encourage quick eating. Little H was so happy, she called to Gourmet Dad: "Mom gave me the bird! Mom gave me the bird!"
Chocolate Mousse Birds Nests
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 Tbs. butter
8 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
4 egg whites
1/4 c. white sugar
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
Blue food coloring
high quality chocolate, your favorite flavor. (I used Cacao Barry dark chocolate)
quart ziploc freezer bag
caramel or butterscotch sauce (homemade or you can use storebought ice cream topping)
green food coloring
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silpat sheets.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Add a drop or two of blue food coloring. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks.
Put mixture in a piping bag or a gallon ziploc bag with the end cut off.
Pipe out an oval on the parchment to make the birds "body". Starting in the middle of the oval, make a candy cane shape going straight up and pull away to make the beak (see video tutorial, it makes more sense!:)).
Bake for 1 hour in preheated oven. Do not allow them to brown. Turn off oven. Keep oven door ajar, and let meringues sit in the oven until completely cool. When making the nests, reserve a little chocolate to add "eyes" to the birds with a toothpick.
If you have a marble pastry slab, put it in the freezer. If not, you can use a metal cookie sheet, it just won't hold the cold as long (you may need to put it in the freezer after each nest to keep it cold).
Melt chocolate slowly in microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval. Put chocolate in a quart-sized ziploc baggie and snip the end off.
On the marble slab or cold pan, quickly draw lines back and forth with your chocolate, about 8 inches long. They should set in a few seconds. Quickly gather them up and bend into a circle to form your nest. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and immediately put into the refrigerator to set completely.
Coarsely chop the chocolate and put in microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate slowly in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each. Melt butter and mix with egg yolks in a small bowl. Add egg mixture to the chocolate, stirring constantly to avoid curdling. Let mixture stand and cool a bit. Whip the cream to soft peaks.
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, adding half the sugar as your start whipping and the other half slowly as the whites come to firm peaks. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the whites. Refrigerate several hours. Try not to eat it all before you serve it. YUMMMM!
Just before serving, place one nest on a plate. Combine butterscotch sauce with a drop or two of green food coloring. Put a few drops on each plate
then draw a knife through the dots, making them look like leaves.
Spoon or pipe in about 1/2 c. mousse and add a bluebird on top. Enjoy!
Here's a view of the whole plate. This was such a fun dessert to make!