Christmas Box

For a show-stopping alternative to plum pudding, try Andrew Nutter's chocolate mousse cake flavoured with sherry, fruit mince - and Maltesers!
By Andrew Nutter
Christmas Box
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus setting time
  • Effort: hard

Ingredients

For the base

  • 200 g chocolate
  • disc of chocolate sponge cake, 300g approx.
  • 3 tbsp sherry

For the mousse

  • 4 leaves gelatine
  • 170 g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 7 egg whites
  • 55 g sugar
  • 50 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 2-3 drops vanilla essence
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200 g white chocolate maltesers, crushed

To decorate

  • 400 g seasonal mixed summer berries
  • 100 ml sherry
  • mint leaves

Method

1. First you must temper the chocolate. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming water. When the chocolate has reached 55-58C, pour three-quarters of it over a clean, dry slab of marble, or an upturned baking tray that you have covered with foil and chilled.

2. Use a scraper or spatula to spread the chocolate out over the marble/foil to cool it, then quickly scrape it back together in the centre, being sure not to leave any trails of chocolate. Repeat three or four times until the melted chocolate begins to thicken.

3. Check the temperature and when it has reached 28-29C, add the remaining melted chocolate, which will to raise the temperature slightly.

4. Immediately spread the tempered chocolate evenly over the transfer sheet or acetate. Shape it into a ring and leave to set. Use the remaining chocolate to make a disc the same diameter as the ring (this will be the lid of the chocolate box) and leave to set.

5. If necessary, trim the chocolate sponge disc as necessary to match the chocolate ring. Place it in the base of the chocolate ring. Drizzle the sponge with sherry and spread the mincemeat on top.

6. To make the mousse, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water. Gently melt the dark chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming water. In a large, clean bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar together until stiff.

7. In a small saucepan, warm the whipping cream and brandy together. Squeeze the water from the soaked gelatine, add it to the cream and stir to dissolve.

8. Stir the egg yolks into the melted chocolate. Add the vanilla essence, then mix in the cream mixture.

9. Lightly stir half the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining whites so that you retain as much air as possible. Fold in the Maltesers.

10. Pour the mousse into the chocolate ring and place in the refrigerator to set for 2 hours.

11. When ready to serve, remove the ring. To prepare the decoration, toss the fresh fruits in the sherry and arrange on top with the mint leaves. Finish with the chocolate lid and take to the table.

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