Chocolate and Raspberry Trifle

It’s about time I had a post on here about dessert, right?  I love dessert- especially chocolate, but I really don’t make my own dessert as often as I’d like to. (I like to think my waistline appreciates this!)  That may change when I get my desired ice cream machine (hopefully within the next month), but I thought I’d kick the dessert category off with a bang and make a trifle-like dessert with my beloved chocolate.  Now, this is not a traditional trifle, but hey, it has mousse (which resembles the custard layer), and brownies (which will count as the sponge cake layer), and a bit of fruit.

I was inspired by a post on Handle the Heat for a “Chocolate Dream” trifle, in which brownies were layered with the chocolate mousse, and then I decided to add raspberries for color and to give it the semblance of some health 🙂  I’ve mentioned that I am not a huge fruit eater- I like it, but I don’t crave it- but there is an exception to that rule, and that is with berries.  I LOVE berries- particularly raspberries- and when I saw they were on sale at Whole Foods this week, I had to scoop some up.  I decided to leave some fresh for the top of the desert, but make the rest into a raspberry sauce, because raspberry sauce is just so pretty and easy to make.  So without further ado…

Chocolate and Raspberry Trifle

For brownie layer:
Ingredients:
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a 13x9x2 inch pan with parchment paper (leave 1-inch overhang), and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate together.  OR Fill a small saucepan half full with water, place a heatproof bowl (that snuggly fits) on top, add butter and chocolate to bowl, and heat on medium, stirring occasionally until combined and melted. OR Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 30-second bursts, in a microwave safe container.  Whatever method you choose, when the butter and chocolate are melted and mixed together, transfer the mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, and let cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add sugar and vanilla to the chocolate, and using the mix attachment for your stand mixer, or a hand mixer, or whisk, mix together until thoroughly combined.
4. Scrape down bowl, add eggs and salt, and mix about 2-3 minutes, until lightened in color.
5. Add flour, and stir by hand until just combined.
6. Pour into your prepared baking dish, and spread evenly.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan on cooling rack about 30 minutes. 
Notes:
  • The brownies can be made up to 3 days ahead of time, and they are also delicious just on their own.
For Chocolate Mousse layer:
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, with an extra splash
Directions:
1. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate together.  OR Fill a small saucepan half full with water, place a heatproof bowl (that snuggly fits) on top, add butter and chocolate to bowl, and heat on medium, stirring occasionally until combined and melted. OR Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 30-second bursts, in a microwave safe container.  Cool slightly.  
2. Whisk egg yolks into chocolate mixture, and place bowl in refrigerator.
3. Place egg whites in a large bowl, and with a large whisk or hand mixer, beat egg whites for about a minute or two.  Add half the sugar to the egg whites, and beat until they form stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.  (You can also do this in a stand mixer.)
4. Place cream in a large bowl, and beat with whisk or hand mixer about a minute.  Add remaining sugar and vanilla to cream.  Beat until cream forms soft peaks, about 2 minutes.  **Do not over beat cream, or it will form a cottage-cheese like texture**  (You can also do this in a stand mixer.)
5. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator, and transfer to a large bowl.  Mix a couple spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate.  Fold in the remaining egg whites thoroughly, but gently.  Then fold in the whipped cream thoroughly, but gently.
6. Place mousse in refrigerator until chilled, at least 2 hours.
Notes:
  • The first time I attempted to make the mousse for this recipe I followed the recipe that was listed on Handle the Heat, which sounded so simple- basically just mixing heavy cream and melted chocolate together, but I failed miserably- it turned into a mess- I’m thinking that since it was kind of cottage-cheese like, I over-beat the cream, but it also started to separate as soon as I put the warm chocolate in, so I’m thinking that had something to do with it.  I decided to find a more classic recipe for my second attempt at mousse, and while this one has more steps, I think it allows for less failure, since it is a tried and true method.  Just be sure that you don’t over-beat the cream like I did!
Raspberry Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2-1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp lemon juice
Directions:
1. Blend raspberries, sugar and lemon juice together in food processor or blender until smooth.
2. Strain sauce through a fine, wire mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  Push the sauce through with a rubber spatula until only the seeds remain.  Discard the seeds.
Notes:
  • I used about 1/2 tsp of sugar in my sauce, and it was only very subtlety sweet, and pretty tart.  That is my own personal preference, but if you like it sweeter, you can use a larger amount of sugar.
  • I looked at many recipes for raspberry sauce- some used powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar, some included liquors, some used simple syrup, most used lemon juice.  At some point I’ll fiddle around with jazzing the sauce up, but I loved the simplicity of this combination.
  • This particular recipe makes a small amount (darn you, expensive and small packaged raspberries!!).  By all means, double, triple, quadruple the recipe, just taste for desired sweet/sour combination for the amounts of sugar and lemon juice you add.
To assemble trifle:
1. Remove brownies from pan, and cut into 1-inch squares.
2. Place brownies, mousse, and raspberry sauce in alternating layers.  I did two layers of each, beginning with the brownies- so brownies, mousse, sauce, brownies, mousse, sauce.  I then topped the whole thing with a few whole raspberries that I had reserved, and a couple more brownie pieces.  You can also adorn it with some chocolate shaving if you want.  Depending on how big your dishes are, and how much you want in your layers, you can do more as desired.  You can also do just 1 layer of each component if you want.
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