Ok. Yikes. The Christmas freak-out has begun. You know, that moment when you realize that you have done NOTHING to prepare for the impending holiday and the time spent rearranging your pantry last week (our new "happy place") would prolly have been better spent shopping for gifts or writing cards or decorating or well, anything else other than organzing the pantry.
It's nearly Christmas, dumplings!! GAAAAHHH!!
So now we are at that stage where every little tiny thing sends us over the edge and into a full-on anxiety attack.
Stocking gifts? What? We haven't even finished gift gift shopping let alone thinking about tiny tchotckes for the stockings!! Caroling? WHAT? OMG. We SHOULD go caroling. It's so festive and spirited. But, wait, we don't know all the songs. Argh! How are we going to learn all the new-fangled Christmas pop songs in time to go caroling!?!? We can't sing either! Deep breath. When will we have time to take singing lessons!!? The car is out of gas!?! GAAAHH!! We might as well end it now because this is clearly the end of the world because we don't have time to get gas and it's snowing and my coolest blazer is at the cleaners and we can't believe Kim Kardashian is getting divorced and life is TOO HARD RIGHT NOW.
You get the idea. Stress can turn you into a crazy person and this time of year seems to take the cake (ha ha, it's a baking pun).
Well, kringles, allow us to help you out a wee bit. In the Christmas desserts department. Because, really, who has even thought about what to serve for dessert at Christmas dinner? Who has even remembered that we have to make a Christmas dinner? Exactly.
This mousse cake (ok, so it's technically cheesecake) is the PERFECT holiday dessert. We mean, what says consumer over-consumption like triple-rich chocolate cake? And, it can be made well in advance.
It's also a cake and not a bark or a cookie or a caramel...not that there is ANYTHING wrong with such tasty treats but they are more for gifting and sometimes you just want a big old slice of mousse cake instead of a fiddly piece of peppermint bark.
PS. Slightly off the subject, people seem to think this mousse cake has a chocolate-peanut-butter flavor despite having no peanut butter in it. Definitely a plus we think.
Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit
For the Crust:
24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
For the Filling:
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (we used bittersweet chocolate chips)
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
For the Topping:
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (again, we used bittersweet chips)
1 tablespoon sugar
Bittersweet chocolate curls to decorate (we used a hefty brick of bittersweet chocolate)
To make the crust, preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Blend wafer cookies in a food processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Crumbs will still be slightly dry. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Keep the oven on and maintain temperature.
For the filling, melt the chocolate pieces in a glass bowl in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust; smooth top. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run small, sharp knife around sides of cake to loosen. Chill overnight.
Next, make the ganache topping. Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Carefully, pour over center of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill in the fridge until topping is set, about 1 hour. Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated.
Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Top with chocolate curls. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving.
Note: To make the chocolate curls, we softened the brick of Vahlrhona chocolate in the microwave ever-so-slightly and then shaved curls off using a vegetable peeler.