Altogether now – oooooOOOooooh! A verrriiiiiiine!
Yes, that’s right, a verrine. They are hip and happening, unlike the phrase ‘hip and happening’, and for my birthday last year I got a whole book of recipes for terrines and verrines, and two lovely verrine glasses. It’s worth noting that my birthday falls in May, so it took me long enough to get round to posting a verrine here on Rock Salt.
For the uninitiated (as I was, prior to this gift), a verrine is a terrine made in a glass, so you can see all the lovely layers before you devour them. They can be either sweet or savoury, and some of the recipes in my book sound absolutely divine.
Cut to a few weeks ago, when I was visiting Amy from Wicked Good Travel (that’s right, I’ve had the privilege of actually meeting Amy AND eating some of her delicious cooking). Amy was cooking for us, and I was bringing dessert. It had to be something I could put together the night before, and also something that wouldn’t take too long to make. I managed to tick both of these boxes, though perhaps taking a little more time over the recipe wouldn’t have hurt… As the title of today’s post suggests, I made a chocolate and basil verrine. If you’ve never had chocolate and basil together, I can only recommend that you do so at your earliest convenience.
This dessert consists of three layers – none of them take a long time to make, but of course it’s more of a commitment than your average cake. It’s worth it, though, because these really look like something special. The bottom layer is a chocolate and basil brownie; the middle is a plain chocolate mousse; the top is a tart cheesecake-style mousse. Then you can decorate it with shaved chocolate and glitter and stars and generally go completely over the top.
Here are the recipes for each layer, the amount in which make four desserts in 2 1/2 inch square glasses:
Basil and Chocolate Brownie
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup yoghurt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup basil oil
Heat the oven to 180C.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together thoroughly, making sure to knock any lumps out of the cocoa – if you sift it into the bowl you’ll eliminate most of the lumps ahead of time.
Grease a 7 inch square cake tin, and use a large pinch of the dry ingredients to flour it. This will stop the cake from sticking without leaving any white patches round the outside.
Now whisk together the wet ingredients in a jug, then scrape into the dry ingredients and mix together. Scrape out into the pan and bake for about twenty five minutes. Cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack for as long as you have – ideally for several hours, until completely cool.
Cut out four appropriate shapes and then gently press the brownie into the base of your verrine glasses (or whatever you’re serving the dessert in).
- 2 eggs
- 75g dark chocolate
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- small pinch salt
Did you know that chocolate mousse is really easy to make? I apologise if this is destructive information to you…
Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a medium sized, clean bowl and the yolks in a small dish – or keeping them in the shells, if you can manage it without breaking them. I did, and I felt like a boss, but nobody saw it and I didn’t take a picture. It still happened.
Melt the chocolate in a large bowl, then set aside to cool while you whisk the egg whites.
Add the sugar to the egg whites and whisk (preferably with a hand held mixer, unless you count baking as exercise in which case do it with a balloon whisk and prepare for aching elbows) until you get soft, billowy peaks.
Add the egg yolks to the melted chocolate and stir briskly until combined and glossy. Now add a scoop of the egg whites to the chocolate and fold in carefully. This is called ‘lightening’ the mixture, and makes it easier for you to add the rest of the egg white without deflating it.
Add the rest of the egg whites and fold through until absolutely no streaks remain. Keep the folding motion light and make sure to scrape the bottom and edges of the bowl while you go along.
Once the mousse is completely combined, spoon or pipe it evenly on top of the brownie in your verrines. Place them in the fridge to start setting.
- 1 tbsp warm water
- 1/2 tsp gelatine
- heaped 1/4 cup sour cream
- 50g cream cheese (sorry, I’m mixing my measurements! Bad note taking…)
- 4 tsp caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Put the water in a tiny bowl and sprinkle the gelatine over the top to bloom for five minutes.
Put the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until combined.
Take a teaspoon of the sour cream mixture and stir into the gelatine to break it up. Then add the gelatine mix back into the sour cream mix and whisk again until evenly distributed.
Pipe or spoon the cheesecake mousse evenly over the top of the verrines. It is safest to wait until the chocolate mousse is set to try this, but I didn’t wait and still got a good end result. So I guess the question is, do you feel lucky, punk?
Decorate the verrines however you like – I went with crumbled Flake and chocolate and glitter stars. Subtle.
I made these in square bourbon glasses that I had at home. You can make them in anything you fancy, you just have to cut the brownie into whatever shape fits your container. Or you could probably make one big trifle with the layers and serve up into bowls, but you wouldn’t get the nice clean lines that way – the chocolate mousse isn’t robust enough to stand up to slicing and serving. You could also make more of the final cheesecake mousse or replace that layer with some slightly sweetened whipped cream, instead.
This recipe is inspired by this Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake at A Periodic Table – I made this cake for Christmas day, and it was worth all the effort. Try it – you can space the baking out over a couple of days, and the results are absolutely stunning.