It follows that a favorite ingredient of his is one that broadened his palate early on. Renowned Parisian chef Pierre Gagnaire introduced Lefebvre to Piment d’Espelette, a gently spicy chili pepper from the Basque region of France, and it was a revelation. “In France, we don’t eat spicy food,” he says. “At that time, it was scary to use this ‘red powder’ in the French kitchen. It was a totally new thing.” Lefebvre’s recipe for Spicy Chocolate Mousse is a delightfully surprising concoction from a master we’re sure won’t stop surprising us any time soon.
SPICY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
In a saucepan, combine milk and Piment d’Espelette. Slowly bring to a boil, then remove. Infuse for 30 minutes and reserve at room temperature. Slowly melt chopped chocolate in a bain-marie or double boiler and whip cream in a large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and cooled melted butter. Add half of the powdered sugar. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add rest of powdered sugar and fold in whipped cream. Combine hot melted chocolate, infused milk, yolk mixture and half of the egg-white mixture and whisk in a large bowl. With spatula, very gently fold in the rest of the beaten egg whites, so that the mousse remains light. Can be made ahead. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Serves 8.