150 g caster sugar
100 g slivered almonds
1 cup (250 ml) pure cream
200 g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
3 eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper and sit it on a board or thick tea towel.
To make the almond praline, put the sugar and 1/2 cup (125 ml) cold water into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring, increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.
Boil it undisturbed, washing down the sides occasionally with a brush dipped in water to dissolve any sugar crystals. The mixture will slowly change from being liquid to syrupy, with lots of lazy bubbles breaking all over the surface.
From here on in, you need to watch it like a hawk as it changes colour quite rapidly. As soon as it turns light amber, add the slivered almonds and swirl the pan to mix them in (be careful as it may froth a bit at first).
Continue to cook until it’s deep golden brown, then immediately take the pan off the heat and carefully pour the mixture onto the prepared baking tray. This is a bit awkward as it’s thick with almonds so use a wooden spoon to help scrape it out of the pan and spread it onto the tray.
Using an oven mitt to protect your hands, tilt the tray gently to help spread the mixture even further. (Be careful doing this, as both the praline and baking tray are very hot.) Leave the praline to cool and harden.
Break off some long shards to use as decoration, and either crush or process the remainder until fairly finely chopped. To store the shards, layer them in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper or freezer wrap to stop them sticking together.
Scoop the crushed praline into a small airtight container and seal it tightly. Store both lots of praline in the freezer until you need them. (This makes a little more praline than you need in this recipe; however, it keeps well for months.)
To make the mousse, gently heat the cream in the saucepan that you used for the praline, until it’s very hot but not boiling. Meanwhile, process the chocolate in a food processor until it’s finely chopped.
With the processor going, pour the hot cream through the feed tube onto the chocolate and whiz briefly until thick and smooth.
Now add the egg yolks and whiz again until they’re incorporated. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and leave it to cool.
When the chocolate mixture is cool, stir in 5 tablespoons of crushed praline.
In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites and salt with an electric beater on medium speed until they hold soft peaks.
Quickly stir a quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit, then fold in the remaining whites. Spoon the mousse into individual glasses, cups or bowls (or into one large-ish bowl), cover tightly with plastic film and chill.
To serve the mousse, dollop some cream over the top, dust it lightly with cocoa powder, and sit a shard of praline in the middle of each one.