When I was a student visiting Paris for a few weeks during one hot summer some, well, many years ago, I discovered – somewhere along the way of my endless walks around the city, seeing the Notre Dame church, the Montparnasse graveyard, the catacombs and the Luxemburg gardens – the lively markets, the knowledgable grocers and of course, the local supermarkets – and with that, I explored the entire range of ready-made deserts sold at the most basic of all the supermarkets. The flans, the custards, the mousses – all very plain and low-browed desserts made better than any packaged desserts I had tasted in the U.S. at the time. And then I discovered a very special chocolate dessert. It was – and still is – sold above the yogurt and fromage blanc products near the milk, butter and cheeses. It comes in packs of two thick chocolate slabs accompanied by little sauce packets containing vanilla cream. I devoured packages and packaged of them, and didn’t even know what they were, other than they were sublime.
So when I moved back to France, I was determined to make them myself without becoming completely decadent and having them after every meal and along with my coffee breaks. This is the legendary (for me) Marquis de Chocolat.
This is a rich, creamy dessert, dense with chocolate and thick enough to have an incredibly satisfying texture. It is like a chocolate mouse with body and stealth. And it is gorgeous. Served with a light creme anglaise cooked with vanilla bean, chilled overnight and served cold with the crunch from whole flaxseeds and ginger cookie crumble along with some berries, I think it is the best dessert around. I know I mentioned this before, but dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidents, and the flaxseeds and eggs in this dessert give it a strong protein and DHA Omega 3 kick. So it is not a dessert devoid of nutritional value.
For Magnus, it is the most incredible thing. And it is even more incredible watching him eat it. He usually begins to giggle at the first bite. It is so thick, he takes a dark forkful and his mouth moves slowly, and I can see his tongue working along the insides of his cheek trying to move the chocolaty substance around. It is a true experience of the palate, with crunchy elements like the flaxseeds and ginger cookie crumble, and a bit of tartness with the raspberries.
Few bites suffice, and he is satisfied.
This is not a difficult dessert to make, and the wow factor is very high. And it keeps well in the fridge and in the freezer so you can make a large batch and keep for later.
If you can manage to not eat it all at once.
Marquise au Chocolat with Flaxseeds, Ginger Cookie Crumble and Creme Anglaise
8 ounces 70% dark chocolate
4 ounces 100% bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon whole golden flaxseeds
6 ounces butter
4 large eggs, separated
4 egg yolds
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup ginger cookies
a handful of raspberries
A few tablespoons of vanilla bean cream (recipe below)
A few tablespoons of crushed ginger cookies
1. Line a bread pan or terrine dish with plastic.
2. In a bowl over hot water, let the butter and chocolate together until they melt.
3. Stir in all of the eggs yolks one by one, making sure they are well blended. Add the vanilla, coco powder and flaxseeds.
4. In another bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff. Set aside.
5. In yet another bowl, whip up the egg whites until stiff.
6. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then the whipped cream.
7. Pour the mixture into the mold and cover with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
8. To serve, cut the Marquis like terrine slices, then place unto serving plates. Drizzle the cream and ginger-cookie crumb, sprinkle with raspberries and serve.
Vanilla Bean Cream (Creme Anglaise)
This is a basic creme anglaise recipe, and can be used for many kinds of pies, tarts and other dessert dishes. I tend to make it with very little sugar, but you can add the amount of sugar as you see fit.
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in the middle
6 large egg yolks
1. In a pot, combine the cream, milk and 3 tablespoons sugar. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean (I add the entire bean into the cream for maximum flavor).
2. In a bowl, combine the yolks with one tablespoon of sugar and mix until it becomes pale.
3. Whisking the egg mixture constantly, add one ladle of the warm cream mixture into the eggs and whisk. Then put the entire egg mixture into the pan, stirring constantly. Cook for about 7-10 minutes or until the cream mixture begins to thicken.
4. Pour into a container, cover with plastic (cover the top part so it does not develop a film). Chill for a few hours. Serve cold with the Marquis.