Snow never falls in Simon’s southern comer of France, so in winter we substitute this tall chocolate mold which with a stretch of the imagination looks like a snowball as it is completely coated with whipped cream.
½ lb/250 g dark chocolate, chopped
¾ cup/175 ml strong black coffee
1 cup/250 g butter, cut into pieces
1 cup/200 g granulated sugar 4 eggs, beaten to mix
8 to 10 mint sprigs, for decoration
For the whipped cream
2 cups/500 ml heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-guart/1-liter Charlotte mold or deep bowl; pastry bag and small star tube
1. Line the Charlotte mold or bowl with a single piece of foil, pressing it to the sides as smoothly as possible but without tearing the foil so the chocolate mixture cannot leak. Heat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Heat the chocolate with the coffee in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted. Bring the chocolate to a boil and simmer until it thickens but still falls easily from the spoon 5-8 minutes. Add the butter and sugar and continue stirring over the heat until the mixture is melted and smooth. Bring it just to a boil and then remove it from the heat.
2. Whisk the eggs into the hot chocolate mixture, adding the eggs a little at a time and whisking steadily-the heat will cook and thicken it. Strain the mixture through a sieve into the lined mold. Set the mold in a water bath and bring it to a boil on top of the stove. Transfer it to the oven and bake until the chocolate mixture has risen and a light crust forms on top, 35-45 minutes. Take the mold from the water bath and let it cool-the snowball will shrink but don’t worry. Cover and chill it until firmly set, at least 12 hours.
3. Not more than an hour before serving, finish the snowball: Run a knife around the edge of the mold and tum the snowball with the foil onto a large flat service plate. Peel off the foilthe chocolate will stick and be mess but this is no matter as it will be completely concealed in the whipped cream. If some chocolate sticks to the foil, simply scoop and reshape it.
4. For the whipped cream, beat the cream until stiff, (it’s best if the cream is chilled). Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and continue whisking 30-60 seconds- take care not to overheat as the cream will stiffen further when it is piped through the star tube. Fill the piping bag with the whipped cream and completely cover the snowball with tiny rosettes so no chocolate is visible. Top it with a single large rosette of cream and dot the sides here and there with mint sprigs. Chill the snowball until serving, then cut it in wedges like a cake.