Mexican chocolate mousse
- 2 cups chilled heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tsp double expresso vodka
- 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
Heat 3/4 cup cream, cayenne pepper flakes and cinnamon stick in a 1-quart heavy saucepan until hot. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat (with cinnamon stick), stirring constantly, until it registers 160°F on thermometer. (Note, this is the instruction on the base recipe but my thermometer only read 120 when it started to thicken considerably and the heat stopped going up. I stopped heating it just in time. So cook until it reaches 160 or it forms a damned custard, whichever comes first.) Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve (take out the cinnamon sticks at this point- and the pepper flakes will mostly be strained out) into a bowl and stir in vanilla and expresso vodka.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a glass bowl in a microwave at 50 percent power 3 to 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, then cool.
Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard to lighten, then fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly.
Spoon mousse into 8 (6-ounce) stemmed glasses or ramekins and chill, covered, at least 6 hours. Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving.