This mousse, which was adapted by Scott Carsberg and printed in The New York Times (don’t know when), is a dessert I started making with Emma in Cooking School. It’s easy enough as are all mousses, and Emma could pretty much handle it herself—plus, what a bowl-licking opportunity (!), which is her favorite part of the cooking experience. However: This recipe calls for making caramel from scratch, a task I have never once succeeded in doing successfully—not even when I was making caramel lady apples for teacher gifts one year, and went over a dozen recipes, picking what looked like a fool-proof version—and this was no exception. We tried twice! We threw everything out twice! So preaching creativity, flexibility and the ability to mend mistakes, we got in the car, went to a specialty food store and bought a jar of really expensive caramel sauce that we folded into the mousse. We both thought it was a great mousse, slightly different (in a good way) and worth making again. Bruce thought it was not up to our family chocolate standard, but I think he just regards mousse as a chick thing/dessert, since it’s light and has no manly heft to it.
(about 16 servings)
1 cup sugar
5 T butter, cut into bits
3 cups heavy cream
8 oz. high-quality unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, about 1 1/2 cups
Put sugar in a heavy pan, and turn heat to medium. When sugar warms and begins to liquify, add 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture bubbles, then becomes foamy, then dry again. Keep cooking until it liquifies again, stirring often and breaking up any chunks that form. When it is all dissolved and brown, remove from heat, and stir in butter a bit at a time. Standing back to avoid spattering, add 1 cup cream, then stir until blended. Let sit until cool enough to touch.
Meanwhile beat remaining cream until it holds soft peaks; refrigerate. Melt chocolate over very low heat or in a double boiler or microwave.
Mix melted chocolate into caramel. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to caramel, and stir to combine. Add remaining whipped cream and gently fold, just until combined. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.