Case in point.....
Our Family reunion was this weekend and I was asked to make dessert. Pies are a given, but I wanted something special for the little ones. When I was younger, we use to love Dirt Cake (though it's not so much a cake, as it is a trifle). For anyone who has never had Dirt "Cake", it is simply ground up Oreo or Hydrox which is layered, with a instant vanilla pudding that has been fortified with butter and cream cheese which then has Cool-Whip folded into it. It's actually pretty darned tasty. BUT
There is that big "but" again.. ;)
If you read the instant pudding ingredients you will find a lot of junk that really is unnecessary. I mean, Vanilla pudding is white, so why does it contain artificial coloring. Evidently it's the wrong shade of white.... Which is insane, considering that vanilla pods and the caviar contained therein are brown. Apparently, "egg shell white" is not as appetizing as "ecru". LOL
Be that as it may, I come from a chocolate loving family. So the issue of the vanilla pudding color was kind of a mute point, since we always used chocolate pudding anyway. However, it is also artificially colored and flavored these days.
That being said, I decided that I was simply going to make the "chocolate pudding" from scratch. Then, somewhere in the twisted depths of my mind I suddenly decided that a simple chocolate pudding wasn't good enough for my nieces & nephews. That was how the mousse came about. And while I now have a Dirt Cake that is blessedly free of foreign contaminates and fairly low in sugar, it is extremely high in fat... I used a quart of whipping cream. This was an issue that I did not foresee.
Pudding is made with milk, mousse is made with whipping cream (and raw beaten egg whites, but I left those out) The original Dirt Cake then has whipping cream (Cool Whip) folded into the pudding, thus I had to fold MORE whipping cream into my already whipped cream laced mousse. Not my most brilliant of endeavors, but it was REALLY good. :)
Oh, and I hunted down Newman's Own, Chocolate sandwich cookies. Not so much because they are Organic, but because they lack High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated oils. That was another one of those "things" that I climb on my soapbox about. Cool Whip is nothing more than sweetened whipped hydrogenated shortening (Crisco) so I avoid it like the plague. But the filling in Oreo & Hydrox cookies is also sweetened shortening. This along with the artificial colors, flavors, & preservative chemicals.... It was clear that I needed a less "deadly" cookie.
Don't get me wrong... I love Oreo & Hydrox, but I'm an adult and I am fully aware of the consequences when I introduce "counter-productive" foods into my system. Children are not, thus it is our responsibility to protect and educate them, so when they grow up they can make informed bad food choices too. LOL
OK, That is enough of my insane babble. Let's get this Mousse on the road!
16 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (at least 62%)
3 oz Espresso
1 TB Cointreau
1 1/4 tsp Gelatin
2 1/4 cup Light Whipping Cream; Divided
Cream Cheese mixture
4 oz Butter
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 cup Confectioners' Sugar
To Complete the cake
1 3/4 cups Light Whipping Cream
a small bag of Gummy worms
24 oz Newman's Own Sandwich Cookies
1 Clean plastic flower pot (run it through the dishwasher on the top rack)
1-2 bunches of silk flowers (wash the stems with soap and water; you can insert a straw and slide flowers down the tube, but I had a "bunch" and it was too big in fit in the straw)
Begin melting Bittersweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler.
Add Espresso and Cointreau.
Stirring until smooth. (you can add a pinch of cayenne as well, if you like)
Remove from heat and let cool a little.
Place 1/4 cup of the Whipping Cream in a small heatproof cup and sprinkle with gelatin, allowing it to bloom.
Melt Gelatin over low heat (I use a small Corningware dish filled with water over low heat)
Pour the melted Gelatin into the cooled melted chocolate and stir to combine.
Move the mixture to a large shallow bowl and let it continue cooling (this will make folding easier)
NOTE: Normally, if I were only making this as a mousse, I would have whipped the 2 cups of light cream, folded it in and spooned it into old fashioned champagne glasses and chilled it for at least 1 hour and up to 4 without covering. But since I was making the dirt cake I had to switch it up a little bit.
Place Butter, Cream Cheese and Confectioners' Sugar in a medium bowl.
Beat them until they are light and fluffy.
Fold in the cream cheese mixture into the gelatin laced chocolate in 2 additions.
Now, whip 2 cups of Light Cream until light and fluffy (do not add sugar to the whipping cream)
Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate in 3 additions.
Cover with plastic wrap on the surface, and chill.
Remove the chocolate/cream cheese mixture from the refrigerator and let it warm up a little bit.
Take your Newman's O's and toss them in a food processor (24 oz is 1 1/2 packages, which leaves 1/2 a package for you to enjoy with a big glass of milk)
Pulse them until you have fairly fine crumbs.
Place 1 3/4 cups light whipping cream in a bowl and whip until firm. (Again, don't add any sugar)
Fold the whipping cream into the Chocolate mousse in 3 additions, to further lighten it.
Grab the flower pot (make sure you ran it through the dishwasher)
Sprinkle the bottom with 1/3 of the cookie crumbs.
Spoon 1/2 of the Chocolate Cream Cheese Mousse into the pot.
Sprinkle with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs.
Add some gummy worms.
Spoon the remaining Chocolate Mousse into the pot and cover the worms.
Add a few more worms.
Sprinkle the remaining cookie crumbs over those worms, making sure that a couple of them are peaking out of the top.
Cover with plastic and chill for 8 hours.
Before serving, grab a bunch of silk flowers and wash the stems and insert into the "dirt" and set it on the table as a center piece.
Serve with a washable plastic trowel for the ultimate effect. The kids were a little suspicious at first, but once they realized there were gummy worms in it, they were ALL over it. LOL