Chocolate Mousse Torte

Decorated with Chocolate Almond Pinecones, this is an impressive dessert your guests won't be able to get enough of.

Prep time: 45 minutes plus standing and freezing
Cooking time: 3 minutes
Makes: 16 servings

1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 25 wafers)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate baking squares
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips
4 ounces white chocolate baking squares
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup half-and-half cream, warmed
1 3/4 cups heavy or whipping cream

Semisweet chocolate chips, melted, for garnish
Chocolate Almond Pinecones, optional

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

2. Make crust: Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl; press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool.

3. Make filling: Place each flavor of chocolate in separate bowls; set aside. In another bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand 1 minute or until softened.

4. Beat egg yolks in a small mixing bowl on high speed, until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually whisk in half-and-half. Transfer to a saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 160°F on a candy thermometer and has thickened, about 3 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved. Immediately pour one third of the egg mixture over each flavor of chocolate; quickly stir each until melted. Cool 10 minutes.

6. Beat heavy cream in a mixing bowl on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold one third of the whipped cream into each bowl. Pour bittersweet chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with milk chocolate mixture, then white chocolate mixture.

7. To serve: Carefully run a sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove sides of pan. Garnish by drizzling with melted chocolate to create pine boughs and top with Chocolate Almond Pinecones, if desired.

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