February 2 marks La Chandeleur (Candlemas), when crêpes are de rigueur on French tables–a tradition my mother upheld all the while I was growing up in Casablanca. Simply sprinkled a crêpe with a little powdered sugar, and celebrate! Another cause for celebration is
La Saint Valentin
and this sumptuous dessert
A tulip (pesticide free, of course) as a receptacle for chocolate mousse! The recipe for the mousse au chocolat comes from my grandmother and is exerpted from my lovely little gift book, Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion (Ten Speed Press, 1995).
Chocolate Moussed Tulips
serves 6 to 8
Tulip (Tulipa species and cultivars): Tulips originated in Turkey, and over the centuries acquired enormous commercial value, not only in Asia Minor were the bulbs were once used as currency, but in countries like the Netherlands were tulips eventually became part of the national landscape. From an edible standpoint, the petals of the tulip have a light crunch, and make beautiful edible receptacles for fruit sorbets, sweet or savory mousses, or finely minced, crisp vegetables. Their delicate sweetness is especially prevalent in the white, peach or pink-colored blooms, ideally suited to this filling of chocolate mousse.
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup sweet butter
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons sugar
12 to 14 tulips, rinsed and dried
2 pints raspberries, rinsed and drained
In the top of a double boiler, or inside a bowl set in a pan filled with simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Stir in the butter. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in egg yolks, one at a time, then the Grand Marnier. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until fairly stiff. Halfway through, add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the beaten egg whites. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes. Mound a teaspoon or two of mousse in the bottom of each of 8 dessert cups and keep refrigerated.
Prepare tulips for filling. Carefully push petals apart, and with a small pair of scissors, cut out pistil and stamen. Cut off the stem. Fill each blossom 3/4 full with mousse, gently holding the petals. Press a filled tulip into each cup so that it stays upright in the chilled mousse. Surround with a few raspberries. Chill until ready to serve.