Yield
Serves 8 generously

This may be my favorite frozen chocolate mousse. It is intensely fudgy, with the unexpected touches of pistachio and Marsala. I also like the hint of coffee in the chocolate sauce, and the ease of making everything ahead. Eletta Violi shared this recipe from her trattoria in the Parma hills. A blooming rose of a woman, Eletta is as generous as her food. Present the chocolate cream as the finale of a menu of simple but elegant dishes. It is especially good after anything flavored with lemon or balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons dry Marsala
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup (31/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream, whipped with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Marsala Sauce (recipe follows)

Instructions

Working Ahead: The chocolate cream holds well in the freezer 1 month. The chocolate sauce can be made up to 24 hours before serving, but do not add the butter. Rewarm the sauce over boiling water, whisking in the butter just before serving.

Making the Chocolate Cream: Set aside the melted chocolates to cool. Combine the butter and Marsala in a medium bowl, and set it over boiling water. Once the mixture is bubbling, remove the bowl from the heat and allow it to cool for a few moments. Then beat in the egg yolks. Set the bowl over boiling water again, and stir with a whisk 2 minutes, or until thickened. Remove it from the heat and stir in the melted chocolates. Set aside to cool. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, beginning at low speed, until soft peaks form. Have the sugar and water bubbling in a tiny saucepan. Using a candy thermometer, quickly bring the syrup to 248° to 250°F. Make sure the whites are to the soft-peak stage. Then beat at high speed as you pour in the boiling sugar syrup. Beat at high 3 minutes, then at medium speed until the mixture reaches room temperature. Keep the mixture light as you fold the whites, whipped cream, and all but 3 tablespoons of the chopped pistachios into the chocolate mixture. Turn the mixture into a storage container and freeze at least 4 hours. Slightly soften the cream by transferring it from the freezer to the refrigerator several hours before serving.

Preparing the Sauce: Warm the sauce, whisking to combine, in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. (If you prepared the sauce ahead, whisk in the butter now.)

Serving: Using a small ice cream scoop, place several balls of the mousse in each of eight wine glasses. Drizzle with the hot sauce. Top with the remaining pistachios, and serve.

Wine suggestion: Chocolate and wine usually do not mix, but a sweet Marsala Superiore Riserva is fine here.

Chocolate Marsala Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee granules
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 dry Marsala
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

Combine the coffee granules with the boiling water, and stir until dissolved. Turn into a small bowl, and add the Marsala, chocolate, and sugar. Set over a pan of hot water, and stir until the chocolate has melted. If necessary, rewarm over hot water before serving. Stir in the butter just before serving.

From The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (Morrow, 1992). © 1992 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All rights reserved.