Spicy Hot Chocolate Mousse

As rich as this mousse tastes, it is surprisingly easy to make. High quality chocolate is a must; bittersweet chocolate is preferred. The unexpected heat of this dessert comes from the spicy, red-hot cinnamon schnapps.

Yield: 4 servings

½ cup sugar, divided

4 ounces high-quality bittersweet baking chocolate

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits

1 Tablespoon red-hot schnapps, or to taste

3 egg whites

1. In a liquid measuring cup, combine ¼ cup water and ¼ cup of the sugar. Microwave for 1 minute on full power to dissolve the sugar, or, on a conventional range, bring to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until dissolved. Set aside.

2. In a heavy saucepan, or a double boiler over medium-low heat, combine chocolate and butter, whisking continuously until melted and of a creamy texture. Whisk or mix in the schnapps and 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture. Taste and add the remaining sugar mixture, if desired. Set aside for later use in another recipe or drink.

3. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Using clean beaters for the electric mixer, beat until foamy. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup sugar evenly over the top. Beat on high speed to create a soft meringue. Fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Serve warm or chilled in footed martini glasses, compotes or wineglasses.

PER SERVING: Calories 330, Protein 5 g, Carbohydrates 43 g, Fiber 2 g, Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 17 mg, Sodium 44 mg.

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