This mousse tastes like the chocolate French Christmas confections called boules pralinees. 5 ounces Swiss bittersweet chocolate 1/4 cup water 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds or hazelnuts 4 eggs, separated 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder 2 tablespoons Cognac or rum 1 cup heavy cream Candied violets

Melt the chocolate and let it cool. With water, sugar and almonds or hazelnuts, make a praline powder (see p. 23). Ribbon egg yolks with the praline powder. Add coffee powder and liqueur, and blend in the cooled chocolate. Whip the egg whites, mix one third of their volume into the base, and fold in the remainder. Whip heavy cream to the Chantilly stage. Fold two thirds of it into the mousse. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff and use it to pipe decorative rosettes on the top of the mousse. Top each rosette with a candied violet. PRALINE POWDER

Praline powder is a delicious caramel and nut powder often used in pastry cooking. To make it, you must first make the praline confection. 2 cups sugar 3/4 cup water 2 cups chopped nuts

Mix sugar and water and cook to the hard-crack stage (310 degrees F.). Add the nuts and let cook to the caramel stage. Pour the mixture onto a buttered cookie sheet or a marble slab and let it cool to a nut brittle. Break the brittle into pieces and pulverize the pieces in the blender; it will take only a few minutes. Store the praline in well-sealed jars. You can make praline with blanched or unblanched almonds, with pecans, or with hazelnuts (filberts). Sometimes a mixture of several kinds is used.