White chocolate is not actually chocolate at all, but cocoa butter with the chocolate liquor left out. This dessert was originally concieved as a dark chocolate mousse by Chef Andrea Apuzzo of Andrea's Restaurant in Metairie, Louisiana, when he was executive chef at the Royal Orleans Hotel before opening Andrea's. It is served piped into a chocolate cup, which is then placed in a pool of raspberry sauce.

I just recently had this dessert at Kelsey's Restaurant in Algiers on da West Bank, and it was mighty, mighty good.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. It's a good idea to stand over the chocolate while it is melting and stir it until it's completely melted, then take it off the heat immediately.

Whip the cream and set aside. Pour the brandy and hot water slowly into a bowl with the egg yolks, whisking briskly as you go until completely mixed.

Whisk in the melted chocolate. Keep whisking even after the mixture is completely combined; this will help to cool the chocolate. Whip the egg whites and the sugar until peaking but not dry; add the vanilla to the egg whites and sugar as you beat them.

Fold the egg-white meringue into the chocolate mixture carefully with a wooden spoon.

Fold in the whipped cream. THIS IS THE MOST CRUCIAL PART OF THE RECIPE. The key to a great chocolate mousse is that you can't incorporate hot melted chocolate into whipped cream. The chocolate mixture must be cool to the touch or the cream will break. Lightly blend the two mixtures until uniform.

To make dark Chocolate Mousse:

For dark chocolate mousse, as was served at the Royal Orleans (and was considered to be the best chocolate mousse anyone had ever tasted), use the list of ingredients below and follow the same procedure as above, except using hot coffee instead of brandy, and whisking the vanilla into he egg yolk-chocolate mixture instead of into the whites.

This mousse is at its best cloudlike texture right after incorporating the whipped cream. But at Andrea's, they pipe it into dish-shaped champagne glasses, sprinkle chocolate shavings and powdered sugar over the top, and refrigerate. This causes the mousse to set, which gives it a different, heavier texture.

Both of the above recipes serve 12. [This recipe was reprinted in the local paper from the cookbook La Cucina di Andrea's, by Chef Andrea Apuzzo, available from Andrea's Restaurant, 3100 Nineteenth Street, Metairie LA 70002. (504) 834-8583] nbsp;

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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)