Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day Special: French Chocolate Mousse

Yes I'm aware of the fact that Valentine's Day is two days away but I posted this dessert today to lend a helping hand to those who haven't yet decided on what sweet treat to whip up for that someone special. Ain't I a dear?

Chocolate mousse is a classic favourite that is immune to the vagaries of fashion. Richly flavoured, yet light as air, this dessert epitomises sweet chocolatey indulgence. The exact debut of chocolate mousse in France is unknown. Did you know that mousse is derived from the French word mousse which means “foam”? Once only a specialty of French restaurants, chocolate mousse entered into American and British home cuisine in the 1960s. Since then, it has been making waves in the dessert arena.

I don't believe in toying too much with classic dishes in the name of modern gastronomic innovation. Don't get me wrong....I am no purist but I draw a line when it comes to over-the-top, crazy culinary twists. While working on this post, I came across recipes of chocolate mousse that have incorporated olive oil, avocado, tofu, basil, coconut, coca cola, chilli flakes and more such shudderingly odd ingredients. I skimmed through scores of low-carb, sugar-free, vegan, dairy-free, guilt-free, paleo....blah blah fad recipes till I arrived at this one and heaved a huge sigh of relief along with a simultaneous exclamation of 'Eureka'! Thank heavens for the good people who steer clear of grossly adulterated recipes.


With a few rare exceptions, all chocolate mousse recipes have two basic ingredients - 1. Chocolate, which is of course the star of the dessert, and 2. Egg white, which is whipped into a foam and then added to the melted chocolate to provide the light and foamy texture, which is the cornerstone of this dessert. Most recipes I browsed through used cream but I decided to pass on that. Cream undoubtedly give this dessert a softer and lighter texture but for recipes using dark chocolate (which in my opinion works best), this ingredient dilutes the flavour of the chocolate. I have modified the recipe slightly to suit my preference. This recipe calls for two not-so-traditional ingredients namely vanilla essence and coffee. I made an exception to these two since vanilla counters the ‘egginess’ of desserts and coffee enhances the chocolate flavour.

I had kept the major share of this mousse stashed at the back of the fridge for later in the evening when my husband got back from work but I couldn't resist grabbing a spoon and greedily digging into one of the glasses of chocolatey goodness. Rich-creamy, dark-dreamy, velvety smooth chocolate mousse. Perfection!

Seriously....look me in the eye and tell me you don't want to eat that!


This Valentine's Day, indulge in this to-die-for dessert that comes together with just a handful of ingredients  ❤ ❤ ❤

French Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 25 min; Chilling time: 4 hours
Total time: ~ 4.5 hours
Serves: 3-4 
Recipe category: Dessert/French
Recipe level: Moderately easy
Recipe source: Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook - Around My French Table

Ingredients:

3½ ounces (100gm) semisweet chocolate (60-70% cacao), chopped
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp espresso or strong coffee, room temperature
1 tbsp caster sugar

For garnish:
Fresh raspberries, sprigs of mint, chocolate shavings and sweetened whipped cream, Optional

Method:

1. Place chocolate in microwave safe bowl and microwave at 50%, stopping and stirring frequently till chocolate is almost melted. Let sit a minute, then stir till smooth.


2. Add egg yolks, one at a time, to warm melted chocolate and whisk until smooth (the mixture gets very thick at this point). Stir in the vanilla extract and coffee.


3. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat egg whites and a pinch of salt in another medium bowl until soft peaks form (meaning the tip droops over when you pull the whisk out of the bowl).


4. Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly until whites are glossy and medium- firm peaks form.


5. Using a spatula, fold ¼ of beaten whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Make sure you get all the chocolate mixture stuck at the bottom of the bowl.


6. Gently fold remaining whites into chocolate just until incorporated and no longer streaky. However, be careful not to overwork and thereby, deflate the mixture.


7. Divide mousse among 4 individual ramekins/glasses (martini glasses would be great!). Cover each with a plastic wrap and chill for about 4 hours in the fridge.


8. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream topped with chocolate shavings, raspberries and a sprig of mint.




Notes:
  • Use good quality chocolate. The better your chocolate, the better will be your mousse. If you don't fancy dark chocolate much, you could use milk chocolate or an equal mix of both. I suggest you avoid using store-bought chocolate chips
  • Use fresh eggs in this recipe. Keep in mind that this dessert contains raw egg so it is best consumed the day it is made. Pregnant women and small children better stay away from this dessert
  • Make sure you separate your egg whites and yolks cleanly. Separating the eggs when they are cold (just out of the fridge) is easier
  • When whipping the egg whites, make sure the equipment you use is spotless. Clean the bowl and beater with hot soapy water and thoroughly wipe it dry with kitchen towels
  • It is better to have a few white streaks than to beat the bubbles out of the mousse by over-mixing
  • The garnishes are only optional. They just make the mousse look pretty when served so you can either skip or improvise

Cheers,


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