Baked Chocolate Mousse
Here's how our recipe doctors lightened a classic dessert-Baked Chocolate Mousse.
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 1/2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker's Joy)
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1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add cocoa and espresso, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat. Add chocolates; gently stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in brandy and vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally.
3. Combine eggs, egg whites, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler, stirring with a whisk. Cook over simmering water until a thermometer reaches 115° (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Place egg mixture in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until ribbony, soft peaks form (about 5 minutes).
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4. Gently stir one-third of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg mixture. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with baking spray, spreading evenly. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until almost set (center will not be firm but will set as it chills). Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
OR USE WHIPPED CREAM: If you substitute an equal amount of whipped cream for the whipped topping, you'll add 62 calories, 6.7g fat, and 4.2g sat fat to each serving. You will also need to bake the mousse about 5 minutes longer.
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1. Bargaining with Chocolate
We had to decrease the amount of chocolate in our baked mousse, as it contributes a significant amount of saturated fat. But we didn't want to risk losing that deep, intense chocolate flavor.
Tweak: Using our nutrition analysis software, we simply reformulated the recipe by cutting the chocolate back a smidge and increasing the number of servings-not a cheat because dessert portions are often too big anyway.
Result: Fine flavor, but portion size was just too small to fit our nutrition rules. Another problem: 70% of the calories still came from fat, and most of it saturated. This was not a balanced, healthy dessert.
2nd Tweak: Deb tinkered with adding good unsweetened cocoa to replace the additional chocolate we were cutting. The cocoa laid a deep, dark chocolate foundation with very little fat, and we were still able to use 5 ounces of chocolate.
Result: Chocolate challenge solved.
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2. Whipping Meringue into Shape
Reducing chocolate also reduced volume. We needed the "loft" of egg whites but had to make sure they wouldn't deflate. Meringue usually consists of egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. But whites in "peak" condition have expanded as much as possible and can only go down from there. We needed eggs that would puff up as they cooked-and hold that structure out of the oven.
Tweak: Deb did something radical by baking standards: She added whole eggs to the meringue, unheard of because fat prevents the whites from beating to stiff peaks. That was the method to her madness, though: The moderating influence of eggs would keep the meringue at soft peaks-getting air, but not too much-leaving room for expansion in the oven.
Result: Volume issue solved.
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3. Solving the Cream Conundrum
Deb preferred sacrificing sat fat-heavy whipping cream-if it meant she could keep as much chocolate as possible. But cutting the cream also affected the creamy texture.
Tweak: More radical thinking from Deb. "What would happen if I baked Cool Whip?" This idea approached the surreal: Wouldn't the oil-and-milk suspension (which hearkens back to 1967) deflate into a pool? We had never heard of baking it before. A few examples pop up on Google, but nothing like this. Deb folded in 1-1⁄2 cups (replacing a like amount of whipped heavy cream), crossed her fingers, and pushed the springform pan in the oven. It baked beautifully. There was almost no visual-or textural-difference from the cream version. But there was a nutrition difference, a savings of 6.7 grams of total fat and more than 4 grams of saturated fat per serving (which would eat up about 20% of your daily sat fat limit).
Result: Creamy, dense texture and rich mouthfeel.
In the End: It's a fantastic cake, and that's where we left it.
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