This dessert is definitely a looker once it’s all garnished and everything. And you really can’t go wrong with that classic pairing of orange and chocolate, so proven by those chocolate oranges you break and “share” around the holidays. The downside, I’ll warn you, is that it does take some time and work. Nothing is too difficult, it just takes patience. Patience and a lot of oranges.
But don’t worry. I’ll always look out for my fellow impatient cooks. So if you feel like making this whole recipe as given, then great! It will definitely be worth your time. If you don’t have much of that though, you can easily just buy the orange curd. To be totally honest, the homemade kind is better, but not thaaat much better. It’s mostly just for bragging rights.
So, if you do want make your own, you will need:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 butter
- 1/2 tsp orange oil (optional)
Start by whisking together the sugar, cornstarch and orange juice in a medium saucepan (just on the counter for now). Add the eggs and whisk thoroughly to combine. Move the pan to a burner on medium heat and bring the mixture slowly to a boil, whisking constantly. You really do need to stand there and whisk the whole time. Eventually the mixture will start to bubble a little and will thicken. Once it reaches about the thickness of a pudding, remove it from the heat and add the butter and orange oil. Usually you would add zest, which you can do, but I don’t particularly like the texture of zest in curd for this recipe, so i use orange oil instead. Both are just to strengthen the orange flavor so you could omit this if you prefer.
Now, ideally, your curd should be silky smooth and beautiful. I, for one, have yet to earn my “Perfect Curd Consistency” badge, and mine usually ends up with a little egg cooked into it, despite by best whisking efforts. If this happens to you, you can just push the curd through a fine sieve to remove any pieces of cooked egg. Orange curd is usually more of a deep gold color, and I wanted mine to be more, well, orange, so if you prefer the color you see in mine, just add a little red and yellow food coloring. Store the curd in the fridge with plastic wrap directly on the surface to avoid a skin.
Once you have completed this or bought some orange curd, you can start on the baked mousse.
You will need:
- 300 grams of dark (60- 76%) chocolate (3 bars for me, but it varies by brand)
- 10 Tbsp butter
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 2.5 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- One or two squares of chocolate for shavings (optional)
Baked mousse will stand up like a cake but will be very rich and thick, similar to a torte. It’s also one of those great dishes that is MEANT to look imperfect, so there’s much less pressure on your decorating skills.
To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9″ springform pan. You might want to lightly flour the bottom of it. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl in the microwave, heating in 30 second intervals and stirring between. If it is mostly melted with just a few lumps left just put it in for 10 seconds at a time. Once it is melted and smooth, set aside for a minute to cool slightly.
Whisk together eggs and 1 cup of the sugar in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk the chocolate mixture in and mix well. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes. When you remove the mousse from the hot oven, it will sink in the middle and the top will crack. This is the imperfection I mentioned, so don’t fret. It actually makes it more beautiful, and it gives a nice sunken area to fill with the orange curd and whipped cream.
To make the whipped cream, just use an electric or stand mixer to beat together heavy cream and the remaining sugar until it reaches soft peaks. Wait until your mousse is fully cooled, then add the orange curd to the inside and spread it out to fill that whole pool. Then pile the whipped cream in the center. Again, it is more than okay to give it a messy, rustic appearance. Just be sure to leave some room around the outside for the curd to show through. If you want chocolate shavings for the top, just scrape a knife across some shares of chocolate, just pulling the knife toward you with the point facing the side. Then just scatter these over the top for a beautiful, completed look.
This is a great dessert to make a statement with, but it is definitely just as impressive in taste. Enjoy!