I hope that your Thanksgiving was a meaningful holiday experience! This year, rather than braving the airport rush to get home to our families, we chose to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with some of our Dallas closest friends. As it was a chocolate-loving crowd with gluten-free eaters, and considering I have already baked my quota of holiday pies for the decade, I chose to make something extremely different: a no-bake, decadent chocolate terrine.
This recipe had just 3 ingredients, dirtied a minimal number of bowls, and gave the appearance that I had spent all day in the kitchen crafting it. Plus, it’s gluten free and dairy free. Don’t tell, but it took me about 30 minutes from start to finish, including pasteurizing the eggs.Before jumping into the recipe, I should mention that a “terrine” is simply putting items into a rectangular mold, and when firm, unmolding it as a loaf. It can then be sliced. You often see terrines with assorted meats, or with vegetables, and often with gelatin helping hold the whole thing together. But not this chocolatey melt-in-your-mouth delight.
Equipment that you will need to make this dish:
- saucepan with .5″-1″ water plus bowl that is bigger than the pot and can sit on top of it without touching the water
- whisk or stand mixer with whip attachment
- loaf pan or terrine mold (I use a Pyrex loaf pan, you can use anything rectangular, including building one from cardboard cereal boxes)
- parchment paper
Ingredients (adapted from Gisslen 2008)
- 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small, even sized pieces
- 2 oz orange liqueur
- 6 eggs, separated
- extra fine granulated sugar (optional)
- unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
At this point, I want to note that the eggs will not be cooked. Given food safety concerns about salmonella on the eggshells, I pasteurize mine if serving raw. Easy instructions can be found here. It only takes a few minutes, but you will need an accurate digital thermometer. If you are going to pasteurize them, do this before starting the terrine recipe.
- Line loaf pan with parchment paper. I do this by taking a sheet of parchment that is larger than the pan’s dimensions, as ideally you would make this out of one sheet. Once I have the parchment rectangle in the size that I want, I cut the corners on a diagonal, then sit it into the pan so that the cut corners fold behind the sheet and into the pan neatly and upright. (Here is a good example.) Ideally you will not have many wrinkles or rough edges, as the lining of the paper becomes the top of your terrine.
- Make a double boiler on your cooktop by putting about 1″ water in your small pot and bringing it up to a simmer (small bubbles). Make sure the large bowl fits over the pan without touching the water! Under no circumstances do you want water getting into your chocolate, or it will stiffen up!
- Whip egg whites to soft peaks; the tips of the peaks will flop over and the eggs will begin to take on a white color. Set aside.
- Put the chocolate into your large bowl. Turn down the heat on your stove and set the bowl of chocolate on top. Leave it alone for about 5 minutes! If steam starts coming out from under the bowl, turn down your heat. You may even need to turn it off completely for a few minutes. This will allow the residual heat from under the bowl to start melting the chocolate. After it gets a little liquid-y on the bottom, stir with a rubber spatula (the bowl may be hot!). When most of the chunks have melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set the bowl on a towel to catch the water. Continue to stir until the remaining chocolate has been melted. If you have large chunks, either return to the water bath and melt a little further or run an immersion blender through your chocolate.
- Using your whisk, mix the liqueur into the chocolate. I know, we said no water in the chocolate or it will seize. This is a controlled seize. Almost a hostile takeover, but delicious. As you mix, the chocolate will become really hard to mix. This is exactly what you want. You will need to work quickly from this point on, for as the chocolate cools it will continue to harden.
- Mix your yolks completely into the chocolate mixture using the whisk. This will loosen it up just a bit but not by much.
- Stir your whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Usually you would fold whipped egg whites in, but the mixture will be so thick this won’t be possible. Just incorporate it all the way through.
- Pour your chocolate mixture into the lined loaf pan. You can smooth the surface with an offset spatula if you need, but it’s not necessary. Rap the pan hard on a folded towel on the counter several times to knock out air bubbles.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on top of the chocolate. Forget about it in the fridge overnight. It will set up very firm.
- To unmold, invert the terrine onto a serving plate or cutting board. In theory it should fall out wearing its paper, which you can then peel right off.
- If using sugar, sprinkle lightly over the exterior of the terrine. Dust with cocoa powder.
- Slice portions with a big, sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped on a towel. Dip and wipe between each slice. This is extremely rich; even 1/4″ thick slices may be hard to finish!
I served my terrine with a simple berry compote, among several other components. To make the compote, I added a mix of berries (in my case, frozen strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and blueberries; about 3-4 cups) and orange zest to a saucepan and cooked it down, covered, until the berries began to fall apart. I also used a little brown sugar towards the end as it was cranberry-heavy and too tart. I finished it with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of vanilla extract. I added these at the end for if I had cooked them down, the essential oils would have evaporated, rendering them tasteless. I also ran an immersion blender through the sauce to thin it out a bit.
The other components on my dish? All chosen to balance the existing flavors and textures and colors (tart, creamy, citrusy, brown, purple): Cacao nibs (crunchy and bitter), stracciatella gelato (creamy and crunchy), candied orange peel (sweet and citrusy and pop of color), chocolate cigarettes (sweet and crunchy), and edible flowers (pop of color and bitter). It was a fun and decadent way to celebrate a delicious meal with our extended Dallas family.