The dark intensity of really good chocolate makes it a superbly versatile ingredient in many desserts, but certain concoctions put the chocolate itself front and center. A prime example of this philosophy is the chocolate marquise, a European dessert with the kind of simple sophistication Givenchy famously brought to the little black dress. At heart, the marquise is simply a rich chocolate mousse, but it's dense enough when finished to be sliced and served like a cake. Making a marquise is simpler than it looks, but the end result looks and tastes impressively professional.
Things You'll Need
- Loaf pan, terrine or other pan
- Plastic film wrap or parchment paper
- Wide, shallow saucepan
- 3 heatproof mixing bowls
- Dark chocolate
- Egg yolks
- Instant-read thermometer
- Heavy cream
- Vanilla or other flavorings
- Thin-bladed knife
Line a loaf pan, terrine, cake pan or other shaped form with either plastic film wrap or parchment paper. Make this layer of lining as smooth as possible, because any wrinkles or folds will be imparted to the surface of your marquise.
Set a shallow pan of water on your stove and bring it to a gentle simmer. While the water is warming, grate or chop your dark chocolate into small pieces, so it will melt quickly and evenly. Transfer the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set it gently in the water. Stir the chocolate until it melts, then set the bowl aside in a warm spot.
Whisk your egg yolks and sugar together, then add the butter. Heat the mixture over -- not in -- your pan of water, whisking constantly, until its temperature reaches a food safe 160 degrees Fahrenheit when tested with an instant-read thermometer. Remove this bowl from the heat, and continue whisking the egg-and sugar mixture until it cools to room temperature.
Whisk heavy cream in a separate, chilled bowl until it forms soft peaks, then set it aside for the moment. Pour the still-liquid chocolate into your egg mixture and stir until it's thoroughly combined. Add vanilla or other flavorings, as desired. Finally, fold the whipped cream gently into the base chocolate mixture.
Pour the marquise mixture into your prepared mold, lifting it slightly and rapping it against your counter to remove any trapped air. Chill the marquise for at least three to four hours, and preferably longer, so it sets firmly. To slice the dessert for serving, warm a thin-bladed knife in hot water and then wipe it dry. Cut slices 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick, wiping and reheating the blade after every cut, and serve the dessert plain or with your choice of sauce.
Tips & Warnings
- Take care not to let any water splash into the chocolate, which will cause it to "seize," becoming grainy and hard. Seized chocolate can be used successfully in baking but can't be melted, so you'll need to chop more for your marquise.
- For an especially smooth-looking marquise, pour the chocolate into a silicone pan. These don't require lining, and the dessert will unmold easily after it's chilled.
- A "terrine" is a ceramic baking dish resembling a narrow loaf pan, ordinarily used for preparing a sort of pate. Ir gives the dessert an attractive shape when sliced. If you use an ordinary shallow cake pan instead of a deeper loaf-style mold, slice the dessert into narrow wedges instead. It's intensely rich, so keep the portion sizes small. A marquise mixture can also be poured into individual dishes and served as you would a simple chocolate mousse, though this presentation is less dramatic.
- Vary the flavor by adding your favorite liqueur to the chocolate mixture. Cherry-flavored kirsch or orange-flavored liqueurs are good options, and so are brandy or rum.
- The basic dessert lends itself to many variations. Gordon Ramsey used thin mint wafers to divide his into layers, for a recipe posted on the BBC's website. Swedish pastry chef Bo Friberg, author of a widely used textbook on the subject, suggests lining the mold with thin sheets of striped sponge cake rather than plastic or parchment. The cake then forms a decorative border around every slice of the marquise.
- You can skip heating the eggs if you have access to pasteurized eggs or egg yolks, which are already food safe. Some recipes omit the heating step, but the resulting marquise shouldn't be served to pregnant or nursing women, children, the elderly or anyone else with a fragile immune system.
- The Professional Pastry Chef; Bo Friberg
- Epicurious: Bittersweet Chocolate Marquise with Cherry Sauce
- BBC Good Food: Chocolate Marquise
- Photo Credit Michael Schott/iStock/Getty Images