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For the moose
16 ounces (454 grams) bittersweet chocolate, tempered



For the chocolate mousse
8.9 ounces (250 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 large egg
5 large egg yolks
Scant 1/4 cup (2 ounces; 60 grams) water
Scant 1/2 cup (3.7 ounces; 105 grams) granulated sugar
1 2/3 cup (14 ounces; 400 grams) heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30 grams) Grand Marnier (optional)


To finish the moose
2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) sour cream
10 fresh raspberries
5 large fresh strawberries


Prepare the moose: I use dome molds *(see tip, below) to make the moose. Any type of half-sphere or round mold will work. If you use a sheet of molds, like I do, make sure the tempered chocolate is in a wide bowl. Fill each mold with chocolate and tap the sides with the handle of an offset spatula to remove any air bubbles. Invert the molds over the bowl of chocolate and allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Scrape the top of the molds clean with the edge of the spatula and place the molds upside down on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. The excess chocolate will drip from the molds. When the chocolate has begun to harden but is not completely set, about 5 minutes later, scrape the edge of each chocolate shell clean with a sharp paring knife. This makes it easier to unmold the shells, keeps the chocolate from breaking as it contracts, and gives the dome a clean rim. Place the molds on a baking sheet in the refrigerator until completely set, about 5 more minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and unmold. The molds I use allow me to just push against one edge of the shell and slide it out of the mold. Depending on your mold, you may need to lift the chocolate from the mold. Set the chocolate aside.


To make the antlers: You will need two antlers for each moose. Use a small offset spatula to spread some tempered chocolate over a maple leaf template placed on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Keep the thickness of the chocolate as even as possible, about 1/8 inch thick. Repeat until you have enough antlers for each moose.


To make the eyes: Pour a small amount of the tempered chocolate into a cornet. Use the cornet to draw small horseshoe-shaped eyes onto a sheet of parchment paper. Fill in the center of the horseshoe completely. Make two eyes for each moose and set aside to finish later.


Prepare the mousse: Place a 1-quart saucepan half filled with water over high heat and bring it to a simmer. Make a double boiler by setting a large mixing bowl over the simmering water. Place the chopped chocolate in the bowl and heat until completely melted, stirring occasionally. Make sure no water or steam comes in contact with the chocolate, because it can cause the chocolate to seize (harden). It is important to allow the chocolate to melt completely, or you will have lumps in the finished mousse. As soon as the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and set aside until ready to use.


Place the whole egg and egg yolks in a medium-size mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer set on medium-high speed until light in color and thick, about 7 minutes. The egg mixture will gain in volume due to the incorporation of air. Keep whipping while the sugar cooks.


Place the water and sugar in a 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Insert a candy thermometer and cook the sugar mixture until it reaches 250F (121C), what is called the soft ball stage. Remove it from the heat and pour the hot sugar down the side of the mixing bowl into the whipping eggs. Be careful not to pour the hot sugar directly onto the beaters, or it will splatter. Continue to whip with the electric mixer set on medium-high speed until the outside of the bowl is warm but not hot, 2 to 3 minutes.


Pour the heavy cream into a medium-size mixing bowl and whip to soft peaks with an electric mixer set on medium speed. At this stage the whipped cream has the most volume. If you overwhip the cream, you will lose volume and the mousse will not be as light and airy as it should be. If you are using Grand Marnier, fold it in with a rubber spatula, being careful not to deflate the cream.


Fold the egg mixture into the whipped cream. If the egg mixture is too hot, it will melt the whipped cream. If it is too cool, it will not fold well. Use a rubber spatula and fold gently just until the two are combined. You should still see streaks of each in the mixture. Carefully pour the warm melted chocolate into the mixture. If the chocolate is too warm, it will melt the whipped cream. If it is too cool, the chocolate will seize (harden) upon contact with the cooler mixture and you will have pieces of chocolate in your mousse. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the chocolate until completely incorporated. The chocolate mousse should be the same color throughout, with no streaks.


Assemble the moose:
Fill each shell with the chocolate mousse, filling almost to the rim. Place them in the refrigerator until set, about an hour. Remove from the refrigerator. Invert the filled shell and place on the center of a plate. Use a sharp paring knife to trim the antlers where they will stick to the shell. Use a small amount of tempered chocolate to "glue" two antlers to the head of each moose. Loosen the eyes from the sheet of parchment paper. Melt the bottom of each eye with the blade of a hot paring knife and stick the eyes onto the moose head, under the antlers. Fill a cornet with the sour cream and draw a pupil in the center of each eye. Place one raspberry, tip side out, in the front for the nose. To make the mouth, lay a large strawberry on its side and slice it into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Slice as many strawberries as necessary to make ten mouths. Place one slice under each nose.


Yield: 10 desserts


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