Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Joy of Crème

The first time I tasted French milk I fell in love. You see, back in the states, I've been known to consume a sip of heavy creme here or a few ounces of half and half there. Whenever I'm at a restaurant with those little plastic creamers and jam, I can't resist chugging a few. I don't believe in ingesting any milk product with less fat content than "whole." Matthias refuses to even call that stuff milk. "oh, you mean that white water they drink?" While my desire for luscious fatty cream is simply a preference, for France, it's just the way things are done. You see, the French milk product classification is much simpler than the U.S.'s.

Americans have:
Heavy Whipping Cream (36%)
Whipping Cream (30%-36%)
Table Cream (18%-30%)
Half & Half (10%-18%)
Condensed Milk (7.5%-15%)
Whole Milk (3.25%-5%)
Reduced fat Milk (2%)
Lowfat Milk (1.5%-2%)
Skimmed Milk (0.1%)
Nonfat Milk (0%)

The French have:
Crème (36%)
Demi Écrémé (10%)
Écrémé (2%)

Obviously, we drink the demi écrémé (as most people in France do.) Drinking crème would make you sick and drinking écrémé is only for Parisian models trying to watch their weight. So I basically have half & half all the time. It's awesome. Especially when you get to enjoy it with a great big hunk of your roommate's delicious Charlotte au Chocolat.

16 servings

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (use good quality chocolate)
3 tablespoons strong espresso
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 teaspoon olive oil
5 large eggs, separated
24 ladyfingers, split (preferably homemade)
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons dark rum
2 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream

1. In a saucepan or double boiler melt the chocolate with the coffee, 2 tsp. rum, and oil. Stir until smooth; cool.
2. One by one add the yolks to the cold melted chocolate, beating with a wire whisk.
3. In a separate bowl, stiffly beat the whites.
4. Fold the whites into the chocolate.
5. Leave in a cool place to set.

To assemble the cake:
1. Pour the milk and remaining 2 tsp. rum into a bowl.
2.. One by one lightly dip the ladyfingers into the milk/rum and line the bottom and sides of a 8-cup (2 qt) springform pan. (Use 8-inch or 9-inch springform pan).
3. Fill with half the chocolate mousse. Cover with a layer of ladyfingers, then with the remaining mousse. Finish with another layer of ladyfingers.
4. Refrigerate the charlotte for 8 hours or overnight covered in plastic wrap.
5. After unmolding, decorate if desired with swirls of sweetened whipped cream.

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