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Recipe by Paul Niles, executive chef, Thee Bungalow.

I have appreciated cooking all of my life. When I was growing up, we sat down and had dinner together every night, so that was kind of a big thing, and in high school I was a line cook. But I didn’t think I would be a chef. I played around with being a firefighter and some other things. When I worked at the Arizona Biltmore (as a cook), I fell in love with it again. I said, “I’m going to take this to another level and get an education,” and I went to the Art Institute of Phoenix.

I’m French-trained and cook French food, but when I’m not working, I like more ethnic food as well. Things like pad Thai, curries, and dim sum. My wife is Chinese, and she introduced me to Asian food. For friends I try to keep things simple. We do more barbecue, fresh pesto, salmon and steaks, and keep it simple and tasteful. Maybe I’ll sprinkle some truffle oil on potatoes. I cook 50–60 hours a week, so sometimes, after a long day, I like to come home and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 6

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces Grand Marnier
4 T butter
4 egg whites (reserve yolks for some other use)
2 T sugar
1 C heavy cream (divided use)
Sprigs of mint, for garnish (optional)

HOW TO DO IT

In a medium pot, bring a few cups of water to a simmer. Place a mixing bowl into the water in the pot and add the chocolate to the bowl. Make sure the water does not come to the rim of the bowl and does not get into the chocolate. Stir gently to help the chocolate melt and prevent it from scorching.

Whisk in the Grand Marnier, then whisk in the butter, a tablespoon at a time.

In another mixing bowl, using a whisk or electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks, gradually adding the sugar. Whisk a few tablespoons of this mixture into the melted chocolate to lighten and loosen the texture, then use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the remaining egg-white mixture.

In the third mixing bowl, whip half the cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

Gently transfer the mousse to the serving bowl (or spoon or pipe into glasses), cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Just before serving, whip the remaining cream until it holds stiff peaks. Serve the whipped cream alongside the mousse, or pipe it through a pastry bag onto the top. Garnish with sprigs of mint, if you like.

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