Combining the best elements of Asian porridge (or “congee,” as it’s known in much of the Asian world) and Mexican chocolate-spice combinations, this dessert is complex and darkly dramatic, with its black rice (also known as forbidden rice), dark-chocolate mousse, and scarlet sour cherries.
Chocolate Mousse with Black Rice Porridge and Spice-Poached Sour Cherries
For the chocolate mousse
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup cow or goat milk
- 1/4 cup palm sugar or light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
- 1/8 tsp. chili powder
- 1/8 tsp. sweet paprika
- 6 egg yolks
- 1-1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin
- 8 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate (60% to 70% cacao), coarsely chopped
For the black rice porridge
- 1 cup Chinese black rice (forbidden rice)
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 2 Tbs. palm sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 Tbs. fresh ginger juice (see Ingredient Tip, below)
- Freshly ground pink pepper
For the spice-poached sour cherries
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 cardamom pod
- 1/2 star anise
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. soju (see Ingredient Tip, below) or vodka
- 1 lb. fresh or frozen sour cherries, stemmed and pitted
- 1/2 cup palm or light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup tart cherry juice
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger juice (see Ingredient Tip, above)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
Make the mousse
- In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the cream, milk, 2 Tbs. of the sugar, the ginger, chili powder, and paprika. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 2 Tbs. sugar until well blended. Gradually pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan.
- Cook the cream and egg yolk mixture over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon and the temperature registers 180°F on a instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes; do not boil. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the mixture through a medium-mesh strainer into a clean medium bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix the gelatin with 2 Tbs. water, stirring until the powder is dissolved; let sit for 1 minute. Add the gelatin to the cream and egg yolk mixture and stir until incorporated. Put the chocolate in a large bowl and pour the cream and egg yolk mixture over it. Let it sit, without stirring, until the chocolate begins to melt, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and blended into the cream. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking dish (or similar) with a piece of plastic wrap so that it extends about 3 inches over the sides. Pour the chocolate mixture into the dish and refrigerate, uncovered, until set, at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.
Make the black rice porridge
- Rinse the rice with cool water until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a 3-quart saucepan and cover with clean water. Soak for 1 to 2 hours. Drain the rice through a sieve and return to the saucepan. Bring the rice, 2-1/2 cups of water, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 45 minutes. The rice should be tender but still wet.
- Warm the cream, dried cherries, sugar, and ginger juice in a 1- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, 5 to 7 minutes. Add this mixture to the rice. Return the rice to a simmer over medium-low heat to reduce slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the pink pepper and salt to taste. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Make the spice-poached sour cherries
- In a small, dry skillet, toast the peppercorns, coriander, cardamom, star anise, and bay leaf over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and aside. Cut a 5×5-inch square of cheesecloth and put the toasted spices in the center. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together with a piece of kitchen twine to form a closed bundle and set aside.
- Mix the cornstarch with 1 Tbs. of the soju until the cornstarch is dissolved; set aside.
- Put the cherries and sugar in a 12-inch skillet. Add the cheesecloth bundle, the remaining soju, the cherry and ginger juices, and the rice vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer while continuing to stir frequently until the cherries are tender and the sugar is dissolved, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the soju-cornstarch mixture and gently blend it into the cherry mixture; cook for another minute to thicken. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Discard the cheesecloth bundle.
Assemble and serve
- Remove the chocolate mousse from the refrigerator. Gently pull the edges of the plastic wrap up to loosen the mousse from the baking dish. Move the plastic-lined mousse to a cutting board. Slice the mousse into 6 to 8 even rectangles, using a knife dipped in hot water.
- With a spoon, spread the black rice porridge evenly onto a platter. Spoon the spice-poached sour cherries on top of the rice, leaving parts of the rice uncovered. Remove each piece of mousse from the plastic wrap with a spatula and arrange on top of the rice and cherries.