Thursday, August 18, 2011

Decadent Chocolate Mousse

Richly flavoured, yet light as air, there are few more perfect ways to end a meal than the perfect Chocolate Mousse. But, as with so many of its contemporaries, time has not been kind to this once proud dessert. People have added olive oil, basil, and even — dear God — avocado, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, all in the name of clever modern twists. When it comes to continental classics, I'm duty bound to consult Elizabeth David. Her simple Chocolate Mousse, in French Provincial Cooking, is just that — an egg and an ounce of chocolate per person, and it turns into something quite magical. 

Take an ounce of chocolate and an egg for each person. Melt the chocolate, adding a tablespoonful of strong coffee, liqueur or brandy per person if you like. Stir in the egg yolks, then some cream. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then fold them together with the chocolate. Pour the mottled, unpromising looking foam into oven-proof ramekins or decorative glasses and refrigerate until set. The result is absolutely divine. Deeply flavoured, yet wonderfully fluffy and light, it almost melts on the tongue.

Decadent Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

4 medium eggs
120g chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
200ml cream
4 tsp sugar (or to taste)

Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a bowl over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate begins to melt, turn the heat off. Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks, add the sugar, and whisk briefly. Mix the egg yolks quickly into the melted chocolate, followed by the cream. Then whisk in a third of the egg white. Fold the rest very gently into the mixture until just combined — be careful not to over-mix — and then pour carefully into bowls and refrigerate for at least four hours until set. Garnish with some shaved chocolate and a dollop of whipped cream, if you like.

COOK'S NOTE: I had a real tug-of-war pouring the mousse into the glasses without dripping chocolate along the sides. Finally I poured the mousse into a piping bag and filled the glasses that way.