(STAR) EAT'S EASY By Ernest Reynoso Gala - I prefer to regard a dessert as I would imagine the perfect woman: subtle, a little bittersweet, not blowsy and extroverted. Delicately made up, not highly rouged. Holding back, not exposing everything and, of course, with a flavor that lasts. — Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet)

During my trip to Switzerland I fell in love with Swiss chocolate. I just could not resist this temptation; its creamy texture and super rich flavor made this indulgence worth the extra expense (one jackstone-size chocolate ball can cost eight euro or around P500) and weight. Known as the chocolate factory of the world, the Swiss consume about 24 pounds of chocolate a year, and chocolate is part of their daily diet. Whether it be in bars, cookies, drink (Chocolat Suisse, or bottles of Swiss liqueur which contain chocolate bars inside), cakes or fondue, chocolate is found anywhere and everywhere, with an endless number of stores to choose from.

On our way to Mt. Pilatus, I was able to taste a fantastic chocolate mousse — very simple but the chocolate used was so smooth it tasted heavenly. Forget skiing or watches; when in Switzerland just eat chocolate!

In 1697 Henri Escher, a resident of Zurich, brought back the first chocolate from Brussels and introduced it to the public. It became an instant sensation, and, by 1830, local residents like Charles Amedee Kohler started featuring chocolate with hazelnuts. Soon pharmacist and candy-maker Henri Nestlé started developing milk chocolate, which would later become one of the biggest food companies in the world. By 1879 Rudolph Lindt discovered the process of conching, the method to make chocolate moist and smooth when the cacao bean is separated from its outer hull; he became world famous for his wafer-thin chocolates.

The word “mousse” means foam in French, and is a soft, creamy food that is lightened by adding whipped cream and eggs. There are two types with the first being very sweet because sugar is added, while the other version is bitter because the chocolate is the dominant flavor. It is also added on top of sponge cake to create a mousse cake, popularized by the French. To make excellent mousse you must melt the chocolate using a double boiler wherein a glass or metal bowl is placed on top of a saucepan with simmering water. The steam from the water helps melt it slowly, ensuring that the chocolate texture is smooth. Do not use a plastic bowl as the mixture will become oily. Gelatin or the gelatinous substance from animal cartilage and tendons keeps the mousse firm, especially in tropical climate. Gradually adding the egg yolks and butter to the chocolate mixture will also prevent the eggs from forming lumps. Never use frozen butter or cold cream because this will make the mixture undesirable.

Chocolate Mousse

1) Prepare eight 1/2 cup capacity stemmed glasses.

2) Ingredients: 2 cups (tetrapak) all-purpose cream, not cold; 1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin, 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips; 6 egg yolks; 1/4 cup softened butter (salted)

3) For garnish: 1 can very cold whipping cream, 6 cherries with stems, choco syrup.

4) Procedure: Put in Pyrex bowl the all-purpose cream and gelatin. Leave for 5 minutes to “bloom” or expand. Add the chocolate chips. Put chips in 2 inches of simmering water (double boiler) and mix until chocolate chips are thoroughly melted. Remove bowl from fire.

5) Put the egg yolks and butter in a blender and pulse 2 minutes. Gradually add hot choco chip mixture.

6) Return mixture to Pyrex bowl and cook over simmering water, stirring with wooden spoon until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.

7) Pour into glasses. Place on tray and freeze 1 hour or refrigerate 4 hours until ready to serve. (Will last one month in freezer, two weeks in the refrigerator.)

8) Add whipping cream from can to fill tops of glasses. Top with syrup and cherries.

Discovery Of The Week

A must-try is the Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Chocolate Ice Cream Cake. Delicious, not too sweet and layered with strawberries and white chocolate, this dessert is perfect for any occasion. Located in Haagen Daz stores.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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