Chocolate and Cayenne Mousse with Candied Hazelnuts
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar, divided
- 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
- 1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur (recommended: Frangelico)
- Small chocolate shavings or chocolate nibs, for garnish
- Candied Hazelnuts, recipe follows
In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of hot water, melt the chocolate with the butter and cayenne pepper, stirring. Remove from the heat and stir with a heavy wooden spoon until smooth. Return to the heat and, 1 at a time, add the yolks, beating well after the addition of each. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until stiff.
Fold the egg whites gently but thoroughly into the chocolate mixture until no white streaks appear. Gradually fold in the whipped cream, reserving about 1/2 cup for garnish.
Transfer to a large decorative serving bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.Candied Hazelnuts:
Butter or vegetable oil, for greasing
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted and rough chopped
Lightly grease a 10-inch square of aluminum foil with butter or vegetable oil and set aside.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden amber color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the hazelnuts and stir to coat. Continue cooking until hazelnuts are fragrant and golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to the prepared aluminum foil, using a spoon to spread into a thin layer, and set aside to cool completely. Break into pieces and chop, if necessary, before serving.
Yield: 1/2 cup candied nuts
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