Friday, January 7, 2011

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse Parfaits

I discovered mascarpone cheese this week. It is the most delicious cream cheese I have ever had. Smooth and creamy as though it is whipped with a slight sweet taste and no tang--like whipping cream in a semi-solid form.

It doesn't take much mascarpone to make an amazing dessert. As I searched the web for a way to use the rest of the carton, I found thousands of choices. Citrus would be the best choice because it would compliment the flavor of the cheese while chocolate would be rich and delicious. At first I was smitten by these brownies with their deep brown color and silky ganache on top but I felt that the cheese would just make these brownies moist and get lost in the flavor.

Finally I settled on a remix of these mini tarts. I don't have mini tart pans and I didn't have enough cheese left to make an entire tart, so I decided to make the same mousse (although can you call it mousse if it isn't light?), but serve it in parfait form, a favorite dessert discovered this summer.

Our grocery store Ralph's is now making its own Chocolate Hazelnut Spread to compete with the ever-so-popular Nutella brand. I bought the Ralph's brand because it was much cheaper and could not tell a difference. At fancier stores they actually sell chocolate-only spreads. If you don't like the hazelnut flavor of Nutella, try for one of those.

This dessert is fast, easy and super rich so you only need a little for each person. I think I could've made 4 parfaits with the recipe I used below, but I encourage you to make them smaller...very rich. Serve with tea or coffee to soften the extreme richness.

2/3 C chocolate hazelnut spread
2/3 C mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
4 oreos (or chocolate wafers), crumbled
1/4 t vanilla (or to taste)
3 T chopped salted roasted nuts of choice (I used macadamia, pistachios would look pretty, peanuts would be great, whatever you like)

1.In a stand mixer whip the chocolate hazelnut spread so that it is less solid. Add mascarpone and vanilla and mix until whipped.
2. In small clear glasses (shot glasses would work well), layer oreos, mousse, and salted nuts. Don't be skimpy on the nuts, they will cut the sweet.
3. Serve at room temperature. I think once you refrigerate the dessert will get thicker and less mousse-like

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