I love rich, velvety, dark chocolate mousse. It’s one of those decadent treats I would enjoy every day if I could (though I don’t because that wouldn’t exactly be healthy). Chocolate mousse is for special occasions and it’s the perfect foundation for a Valentine’s Day dessert. I’ve created a recipe that I know you will love – a tart with a cookie dough shell, a layer of dark chocolate mousse, spiced poached pears and melted dark chocolate drizzled on top.
That’s a lot, right? There are indeed several components to this dessert, however all of them can be prepared in advance so that on Valentine’s Day all you have to do is assemble the tart. The dough will be baked, the mousse will be chilled and the pears will be poached. Assembly of this dessert will take just a few minutes of your time and your date will be so impressed.
Want to take your entire dinner menu to the next level? I’ve teamed up with Stemilt Growers to create a romantic Date Night Dinner Menu complete with an appetizer, entree, salad and dessert. The entire savory and sweet menu is based around apples and pears and all of the recipes can be downloaded in an ebook format that you can print and have handy in the kitchen.
Head over to Stemilt Growers to get the free ebook with my Date Night Dinner Menu for Valentine’s Day!
- 12 ounces (2½ cups) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup cold water
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups water
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 Stemilt Bosc pears
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 3 ounces (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cups + 2 tablespoons heavy cream, cold
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and lemon zest. Pulse the machine a few times to combine the dry ingredients and then add the cold butter. Continue pulsing the mixture until it looks like coarse cornmeal (a few larger pieces of butter are fine). In a liquid mixing cup, briefly whisk together the yolks, water and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the food processor with the machine running until the dough is just barely combined. Even if it looks crumbly, it should come together when pressed. Wrap the dough in plastic, flatten into a disk and chill for at least 2 hours.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large, very thin rectangle, using the tart pan as a sizing guide. The dough should extend at least 3 inches beyond the width of the pan for best results. If the dough becomes too sticky while rolling, chill in the refrigerator until the butter firms up and then continue.
- Carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin and gently unroll it into the tart pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan and then chill it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Use a fork to prick numerous holes in the bottom of the dough to prevent air bubbles. Add a layer of aluminum foil and dried beans to weigh down the dough. Bake for 18 -22 minutes, removing the beans and foil halfway through, until golden brown. Allow to cool.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar over high heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.
- While the sugar syrup is heating up, peel, halve and core the pears.
- Once the mixture is almost at a boil, add the vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks and pears. Cover with the lid slightly ajar and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15-30 minutes, until the pears are soft.
- If not using immediately, refrigerate the pears in their poaching liquid.
- Heat the bittersweet chocolate and two tablespoons of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water and stir until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Add sugar and water to a small sauce pot. Cover and turn the heat to high. Once the liquid begins to simmer and steam has developed, remove the cover (this helps prevent crystallization). Using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar to the soft boil stage, 235-240 degrees F.
- While the sugar syrup is cooking, whisk the eggs on high in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until a soft peak has formed. Turn the mixer speed down to medium low and very slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Don’t pour the hot syrup directly into the meringue.
- Whisk 1 cup cold heavy cream, preferably by hand, until it reaches a stiff peak. Fold into the cooled, melted chocolate. Once the whipped cream and chocolate are combined, fold the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Cover and chill until ready to use.
- Use a spatula to evenly spread chocolate mousse into the tart shell almost all the way to the top. Drain the pear halves and layer them on a bias, flat side down, across the length of the tart.
- In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring every time, until the chocolate is evenly melted. Drizzle over the pears.
Notes: The tart dough and poached pears can be prepared several days in advance.