Cooking with chocolate can be as simple as making a steaming cup of hot chocolate or as complex as constructing a tricolor chocolate terrine. Here are some recipes from "The International Chocolate Cookbook" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; hardcover, $40):
Swiss-style hot chocolate
Makes 3 or 4 servings.
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate (preferably Swiss), coarsely chopped
3 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided (see note)
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Combine chocolate and 1/4 cup milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts and mixture is completely smooth; set aside. In a medium-sized, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring remaining milk just to a boil. Remove from burner. Gradually add 1/2 cup boiling milk to chocolate, stirring until completely smooth and well-blended. In a cup, beat 2 tablespoons sugar and egg yolk together with a fork, until well-blended. Add egg mixture to chocolate, stirring until smooth. Add chocolate mixture to remaining milk mixture, stirring well. Reheat mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until mixture is steaming hot but not boiling; then immediately remove pan from burner. Divide among 3 or 4 heated cups or bowls.
In a mixer bowl, with mixer set on high speed, beat cream and remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form. Spoon a generous dollop of cream over each serving of hot chocolate. (Alternatively, using a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip, pipe a very large rosette of whipped cream over each serving.) Serve immediately.
Note: This recipe tends to be less sweet than American hot chocolate, so you may want to increase the sugar to suit your own taste. Correct sweetness during the reheating stage by stirring in 1 or 2 more tablespoons of sugar, if desired. Keep in mind, however, that the finished drink will be mellowed by the melting cloud of whipped cream.
Makes 9 to 12 servings.
8 ounces bittersweet (not sweetened) chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
generous pinch of very finely grated orange zest (orange part of skin) (add only if Grand Marnier is used)
1 tablespoon creme de cacao (or coffee) or Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
whipped cream or creme fraiche, for garnish (optional)
In the top of a double boiler, over about 1 inch hot but not simmering water, heat chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Set aside with top of double boiler still over bottom to keep chocolate warm.
In a medium, non-aluminum saucepan, over medium-low heat, whisk together sugar, egg yolks, orange zest (if used) and 2 1/2 tablespoons hot tap water, until blended. If using a candy thermometer to gauge doneness, clip it to pan side, inserting so tip is completely submerged but not touching pan bottom. Continuously whisking and scraping pan bottom, adjust burner and cook so mixture heats efficiently but gently enough so that it does not go near the boiling point (which might cause the yolks to curdle). If mixture begins to overheat, lift from burner, whisking a few seconds. Continue whisking for about 4 minutes, until mixture is slightly hot to the touch, light and slightly thickened (or until it registers 160 to 161 degrees on candy thermometer).
Immediately remove pan from heat and whisk in creme de cacao (or Grand Marnier), vanilla and 1/3 cup hot tap water. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into chocolate. Whisk mixture into chocolate until well blended and smooth. Immediately whip cream in a larger mixer bowl with mixer on high speed, until cream stands in soft peaks. Whisk about 2 tablespoons cream into slightly warm chocolate mixture. Then whisk chocolate mixture into cream until completely smooth and well-blended.
Spoon mousse into individual bowls, demitasse cups or sherbet dishes; mousse is rich so keep servings fairly small.
Chill thoroughly, at least 4 hours, before serving. Garnish servings with dollops of whipped cream or creme fraiche, if desired. Do not allow mousse to stand refrigerated for more than a few minutes before serving, or it will become too soft.