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Rich, Dark and Handsome

December 01, 1985

Chocolate, in its dusky richness, inspires passionate devotees like no other food. Chocolate lovers light up as they reminisce about a certain hand-dipped truffle, or the taste of a favorite fudge. Meet the makings of another dark, secret memory: a dark chocolate mousse in a buttery pecan crust, topped with whipped cream and served in a pool of toffee sauce. PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER FOOD STYLIST: JANET MILLER TABLEWARE FROM BULLOCKS WILSHIRE R.G.'S CHOCOLATE-PECAN TOFFEE MOUSSE 2 cups chopped pecans cup unsalted butter cup sugar 2 tablespoons water 14 ounces semisweet chocolate 2 tablespoons oil 2 cups whipping cream Toffee Sauce Whipped cream, optional Whole pecans, optional

Grind pecans in food processor until fine. Melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar and heat, stirring with wire whisk, to thick smooth paste. Remove from heat and add water, stirring constantly. Pour syrup over pecans and mix thoroughly. Let cool slightly. Butter 12-inch tart pan. Press pecan mixture over bottom and up sides of pan. Bake at 325 degrees 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool at room temperature.

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler. Stir in oil until mixture is smooth and almost liquid. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add hot chocolate, folding gently until well blended. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Remove mousse from refrigerator and stir to make sure mixture is smooth. Spoon into pastry bag and pipe into pecan crust, or spoon evenly into crust. Refrigerate. Before serving, decorate with whipped cream and whole pecans, if desired. To serve, spoon Toffee Sauce onto bottom of dessert plate and top with tart, or serve sauce separately. Makes 16 to 20 servings. Toffee Sauce 1/2 pound unsalted butter 1 3/4 cups sugar 2 cups whipping cream

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and stir frequently until mixture is deep caramel color. (It doesn't matter if butter and sugar separate at this point.)

Remove mixture from heat and slowly add whipping cream, stirring constantly. Strain toffee sauce and let cool. Heat before serving. Makes about 3 1/2 cups sauce.

Caution: Mixture will bubble up and release very hot steam when cream is added. Use long-handled whisk or wear oven mitt.

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