Mousse keeps reindeer from tap-tap-tapping on Santa's head

HAPPY EATER

December 25, 1991|By ROB KASPER

Santa has always snacked on chocolate mousse when he visited our house. But the delicious tradition is in some danger.

Skepticism, that dangerous malady of the spirit, has already afflicted our 11-year-old. He doubts the existence of magical night visitors.

So far he has been gentleman enough to keep his opinion to himself. But I'm not counting on this behavior to last.

Meanwhile, his 6-year-old brother remains an ardent believer in the big man in red. And as long as this young fellow has stock in keeping Santa in a good mood, he will make sure the old man is well fed.

And Santa, I have assured him, is a major mousse eater. He

especially likes the mousse made by following the instructions in Maida Heatter's "Book of Great Chocolate Desserts," (Knopf, 1980), being sure to use bittersweet chocolate.

Santa also wouldn't mind a cold beer, but can live without it.

And Santa has learned from bitter experience that it is a mistake to drink a lot of wine before the gifts get delivered.

The "some-assembly required" pirate ship taught him that lesson. It was on a Christmas Eve several years ago, and Santa had started soaking up the joy of the season a little too early.

Later in the night, long after Santa and his helpers had polished off not only the chocolate mousse but several bottles of Zinfandel, it became apparent that the "pirates" he was delivering were not in ship-shape.

They were in about 200 pieces, and all the pieces looked alike. Mrs. Claus wasn't much help either, being as the elves say, three sheets to the wind.

But fortunately for Santa and Mrs. Claus, they had invited some helpers to dine with them that night.

And one of these helpers, being Jewish, did not feel obligated to go overboard in celebrating Christmas.

Moreover, since he was a psychiatrist, he gloried in detail work. ,, Like putting together hundreds of little pirates, and putting them the ship, then running the little rope through the tiny rigging. This the psychiatrist did, as Santa and his helpers watched in a yuletide stupor.

And so to all his helpers out there, Santa passes along these Christmas Day eating tips.

Go easy on the vino, load up on the chocolate mousse. And if the tension of the celebration gets too much, be sure to have a Jewish psychiatrist on call.

Chocolate mousse Heatter

Serves 6.

8 ounces bittersweet, extra bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1 tablespoon dry instant coffee

1/3 cup boiling water

5 eggs (separated)

pinch of salt

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in small heavy saucepan. Dissolve coffee in the boiling water and pour it over the chocolate. Place over low heat, stir occasionally with wire whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for about five minutes.

Meanwhile in the small bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks on high for 3-4 minutes, until they are pale lemon color. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the slightly warm chocolate, and beat, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat only until smooth. Remove from the mixer.

Add salt to egg whites and beat with clean beaters only until they hold a definite shape but not until they are stiff or dry.

Gently fold about one-quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in a second quarter, and finally fold the chocolate into the remaining whites, folding until no whites show.

Transfer the mousse to a wide pitcher and put it into six wine glasses with about 9-ounce capacity. Leave generous headroom.

I= Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.

Mocha cream

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee

Beat ingredients in chilled bowl with chilled beaters until cream thickens to consistency of heavy custard sauce, not stiff.

Pour or spoon cream onto the mousse to completely cover the top of each portion.

Refrigerate until serving time.

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