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Jacques Torres's Chocolate Soup



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Chocolate Soup
Chef Jacques Torres

In Julia's Kitchen
with Master Chefs

by Julia Child, with Nancy Verde Barr,
1995, Alfred A. Knopf


“Chocolate Soup is one of Chef Jacques’s creations for Le Cirque, in New
York, where he is famous for his innovative desserts. Here, a chilled light
chocolate sauce hides a cache of sautéed banana slices drowned in rum
and sugar – a surprising pleasure indeed. He constructs his dessert either
in a bowl for 6 or more, or in individual ramekins, and serves it warm,
topped by tender swirls of meringue.”

Ingredients for 8 servings

For the chocolate soup
8 ounces best-quality ‘couverture’
semisweet chocolate, at room
temperature (for easy cutting up)
3 cups milk, brought just under the boil

For the banana garnish
5 or 6 fully ripe bananas (just beginning to
freckle, but not mushy)
1 teaspoon fragrant ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dark rum, plus a little more if needed
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the meringue decoration
1/2 cup egg whites (4 “large”)
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Special equipment suggested: A hand-held electric blender or a whisk and
wooden spoon; an ovenproof 8- to 10-cup shallow decorative bowl or soup
tureen, or 8 ramekins holding 8 to 10 ounces each; a freestanding electric
mixer with very clean bowl and whip; 1 fine-meshed sieve or sifter (for the
confectioners’ sugar and meringue); a piping bag (a heavy-duty gallon-size
plastic bag or a pastry bag) and a 3/8- to 1/2-inch star tip; a baking pan
large enough to hold the tureen or ramekins; a kettle of boiling water

Manufacturing Note: In our testing for this fabulous soup, we felt
the bananas needed a more serious beefing up – in a figurative way,
of course. They must be fully ripe, and our flavoring proportions for
them here are more ample than those shown on television. If they’re
not flavorful, the chocolate dominates rather than accompanies the
bananas in a deliciously supportive way. The original recipe calls
for 12 ounces of chocolate, which we found gave us too much;
we’ve reduced the amount to 8 ounces.

Melting the Chocolate: Jacques Torres has his own way of melting chocolate, and uses his hand-held electric blender for a smooth result
[one of our very favorite kitchen tools; if you don’t already own one,
do yourself a favor and use this as an excuse to buy one!]; always
holding it so the whirling blade rests on the bottom of the bowl, he
thus avoids high-flying chocolate splatters. His block of chocolate is at
room temperature. First he cuts it into flakes 1/4 inch thick by holding
his large chef’s knife at an angle to the chocolate; he presses down
hard on the back of the blade so the chocolate pieces flake away. (Or
you could break the bar into larger pieces and pulse it into smaller ones
in your food processor.) Now turn the chocolate into a 3-quart bowl
and pour the hot milk over it. Blend until beautifully smooth, either
with your hand-held machine or with a portable mixer, or use a whisk
and spoon. (If it cools off too much to blend smoothly, you may very
carefully and briefly stir the chocolate over hot water to warm it
up again.)
Preparing the Banana Garnish:
Peel the bananas, quarter them length-
wise, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl, toss with
the cinnamon, then pour on the rum. Set a heavy 10-inch frying pan over
high heat, pour in the sugar, and cook until it turns a nice caramel-brown.
Immediately swirl in the butter, and when melted, scrape in the bananas
and rum – the caramel may harden, but will liquefy in a minute or so as
you sauté, turning the banana slices gently with a wooden spoon. Continue
sautéing and turning the bananas for several minutes until the bananas are
softened and well caramelized – add droplets more rum, if necessary, to
melt the caramel.
Filling the Tureen:
Spread the bananas evenly over the bottom of the
soup tureen, or divide them evenly among the individual cups, and spoon
on enough chocolate to cover the bananas by about 1/4 inch, leaving 1/4
inch free below the rim of the container. Cover with plastic wrap and chill
in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Ahead-of-Time Note: The dessert may be completed to this point a day in
advance. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F 20 minutes before you plan
to serve and place the rack in the middle level.

Decorating: About half an hour before you plan to serve, set the soup
tureen or ramekins in the baking pan and pour boiling water around
them, thus allowing them to warm as you work. Whip the egg whites
until they begin to foam, then, as you continue whipping, gradually sift
in half the confectioners’ sugar. When the whites form stiff peaks, sift
and fold in the remaining sugar. Scrape the whites into the piping bag,
and decoratively swirl 1 1/2 to 2 inches meringue on the top of each
dessert. The chocolate should have warmed; test by poking the tip
of a small knife down through the meringue into the chocolate and
bananas. Leave for 5 seconds, then hold it against your palm – the
knife should be faintly warm.
Remove the tureen or ramekins from the water bath and set
on a baking sheet in the middle level of the preheated 350 degree F
oven. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned,
and serve warm.

Ahead-of-Time Note: The desserts will keep warm for a good
half hour in the turned-off oven with its door ajar.

[Note: This recipe contains no warning, no mention whatsoever, concerning
the lightly cooked egg whites in the meringue. Egg yolks are more likely to
carry harmful bacteria than are whites; however, if this is a concern, you
may want to consider using the following meringue recipe from Baking
with Julia, contributing baker Charlotte Akoto

Cooked Meringue

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar

Using a whisk and working in a large heatproof bowl (the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer would be fine), whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Place
the bowl directly over medium-low heat and whisk constantly until the sugar
dissolves. A layer of foam forms over the liquid portion of the eggs, and the
mixture is hot (really hot) to the touch, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the whites to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment,
or fit the mixer bowl, if you’ve used it, into the stand, and whip on high
speed until the meringue forms glossy peaks. Unlike ordinary meringue,
this meringue will not double in volume; it will, however, firm up. Proceed
as in the recipe above.

 Featured Archive Recipes:
Chef Jacques' Crème Anglaise
Chef Jacques' Soft Chocolate Caramels
Cocolat's Chocolate Banana Charlotte
Chocolate Fudge Sheba with Crème
Anglaise (Commander's Palace)


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