This fabulous chocolate dessert has been on our sweet menu for well over a year now and with good reason. I have often read about chef's complaints regarding a certain dish they could not remove from their menus, and believed it to be a load of crap played out for the media.

This little baby has changed my mind. We have heated and genuine complaints when we try to remove this dessert.

What makes it so special? I won't kid you; this dessert takes quite some time, a bit of kitchen experience and a fair whack of patience. What you end up with is a dessert that will leave your guests asking, "How the hell did they do this?"

Here are the logistics. Take a chocolate cake. Not any chocolate cake, but a fine, almost flourless French rendition. Instead of cooking it in a cake tin, bake it on a flat tray like an over sized brownie. Slice this cake into long shapes and line a terrine mould. Fill this with a classic chocolate mousse and top with the remaining cake. When sliced, you have an amazing square of chocolate cake, surrounding a center of chocolate mousse. It is seriously WOW factor stuff.

Can and should you make this dessert? Here are the requirements.

  • 1. You will need a slew of people to impress. I'm talking a dinner party here, as the final product serves 16. Don't worry if your party is only 6 or so. The terrine lasts well, and you will have no trouble polishing it off yourself later.

  • 2. You will need a 30 cm (12 in) terrine mould. Don't buy it especially for this recipe, as it would be a waste. Make this cake instead.

  • 3. You should be fairly confident in the kitchen, and more importantly, a patient soul. The lining of the terrine can be trying.
  • Ok. Made it this far? Here is the recipe. Godspeed.

    Ingredients

    Cake
  • 170 gm (6 oz) couverture chocolate
  • 170 gm (6 oz) caster sugar
  • 3 Tbs plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 125 gm (1/4 lb) unsalted butter
  • Mousse
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 125 gm (1/4 lb) caster sugar
  • 200 gm (7 oz) couveture chocolate
  • 3 sheets gelatine
  • 400 ml cream (35% butterfat)
  • Method

    To make the cake. Place the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over gently simmering water. Allow to melt. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale and creamy. Add the flour and mix gently to combine. Add the chocolate mix and stir well. Beat the egg whites until the have reached stiff peaks, then fold gently through the chocolate mix.

    Pre heat your oven to 180° C (360° F). Line a large (40 cm x 20 cm) baking sheet with non-stick paper. Pour on the chocolate mix and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

    Measure your terrine mould. Ideally it will be around 30 cm long, 8 cm high and 8 cm wide. Cut a base, top and two sides, according to your terrine measurements. Set aside while you make the mousse.

    Place the milk in a saucepan and bring gently to the simmer. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together. Pour the hot milk onto the yolk mixture and immediately whisk thoroughly. Place this mix back into the saucepan and set over low heat. Stir religiously for around 5 -8 minutes, or until the custard has set. It will coat the back of the spoon when ready. Remove from the heat. Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for around 60 seconds, or until they are soft. Add them to the hot custard; along with the chocolate and stir until all is combined well. While this mix cools, whip the cream to soft peaks. Once the chocolate is at room temperature, gently incorporate the cream.

    To assemble
    Line the terrine with aluminium foil. Place the pre-cut chocolate base down, then add the sides. Pour in the mousse until it comes right to the top. Place the cake lid on, then cover with more foil. Place a weight (perhaps a chopping board) on top and set in the refrigerator overnight.
    To serve
    Unmould the dessert from the terrine and remove any foil. Cut into 1 in. slices and serve with crème fraiche, some fresh berries, or perhaps as we do, with some orange syrup.

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