One of Julia Child’s more remarkable traits was her never-ending quest for knowledge. This iconic woman, who taught several generations how to cook and appreciate good food, was never afraid to ask questions and was always eager to learn something new. When I was filming at her house for her series on baking, she asked me how I work with phyllo dough, so I showed her this recipe. Layers of crispy phyllo, painted with a mixture of cocoa powder and butter, make the perfect “bread” for this stacked dessert club sandwich. The filling is a super easy grapefruit-spiked white chocolate mousse.
The white chocolate cream must be made 24 hours before you want to serve the dessert and can be kept for as long as 48 hours.—Gale Gand
For the white chocolate cream
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated grapefruit zest
For the chocolate phyllo
1/4 cup cocoa powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm
4 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup sugar
Powdered sugar, for serving
Make the white chocolate cream
1. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Immediately turn off the heat and pour the hot cream over the white chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the grapefruit zest. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Make the chocolate phyllo
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa with the warm melted butter. Place a sheet of phyllo on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and spatter it, and then brush it, with the cocoa-butter mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and then place another phyllo sheet on top. Spatter and brush with the cocoa-butter mixture, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons more sugar, and repeat the process 2 more times so you end up with 4 layers ending with sugar.
3. Cover the stacked phyllo with parchment paper and place another baking sheet on top of the parchment to weight it down and keep the phyllo from buckling during baking. (If your cookie sheet has a rim, then you may need to use a smaller pan as a top sheet for weighting.)
4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the phyllo is crispy and you can see it’s starting to brown (look at the corners where the cocoa coating is thinned). Remove the pans from the oven and let cool, leaving the weighting pan on top. When cool, remove the weighting pan and parchment and break the phyllo into free-form pieces roughly 3 inches square. You will need 12 pieces for this dessert. Store in an airtight container.
Make the mousse and serve
1. Remove the base from the refrigerator and in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the White Chocolate Cream on medium-low speed into fluffy, soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. (Be careful not to overwhip it or the mixture will separate.)
2. Place small dabs of the white chocolate mousse in the center of 4 dessert plates (to use as glue). Place a shard of phyllo on each dab of mousse and then place a spoonful of mousse on top of the phyllo. Repeat with 2 more phyllo shards and spoonfuls of mousse, and then dust with powdered sugar.
Recipe © 2006 by Gale’s Bread and Butter, Inc. All rights reserved.