Chocolate Mousse is one of those classic French Bistro desserts that sadly often tastes better in your memory when you choose it from the menu than it does on the spoon when you come to eat it. Ordering it can be a bit of a roulette game and can cause disappointment.
Is this one of those places where it’s going to taste like it came out of a packet of instant whip, even if lovingly prepared from scratch? Or is this one of those places where they attempt to create a new classic, like George Calombaris (of The Press Club in Melbourne, and lately MasterChef) has done with his Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse? Or is this one of those numerous places where the tweaking fails and you leave disappointed.
Every recipe uses something to give the mousse its structure, and the most classic is whipped egg whites. Many restaurant kitchens won’t use raw eggs as a result of salmonella fears, which is where cream, gelatine (and olive oil!) come in. At home, so long as you’re comfortable with it, raw eggs will certainly give the best results.
This recipe is based on one from the Penguin Cordon Bleu Cookery book by Rosemary Humes and Muriel Downes, (first published in 1963) and has been used in my family for years with great success.
When buying the chocolate you want a basic dark cooking chocolate, Bourneville, Cadbury Old Gold, Nestlé Club or something similar. The sugar content is important as it will taste too bitter if you use a smart 70%+ cocoa chocolate and you’ll end up fiddling about adding sugar. The coffee is better brewed fresh rather than instant, but instant works OK. And vanilla essence comes in a range of strengths, so use your judgement. Less is more in most cases. And of course the eggs should be free range and organic, for flavour as much as anything else.
Ingredients (Serves 4 to 6)
- 170g Dark Chocolate
- 60ml Coffee
- 15g Butter
- 3 Large Eggs
- A few drops Vanilla Essence
- Break the chocolate and melt in a pan with the coffee over a low heat. To be safer you could melt it over a double boiler, but so long as you go slowly and don’t turn the heat up too high it should be OK to do it straight over the heat.
- Whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak. For best results strain the whites first to remove the chalaza (the thicker bit that is attached to the yolk). It’s perfectly fine to eat, and it will still work if you don’t remove it, but it has a different texture when eaten.
- Meanwhile stir the egg yolks into the melted chocolate/coffee mixture along with the butter and vanilla essence.
- Pour the chocolate mixture into a seperate bowl and then fold in the egg whites carefully, thoroughly and quickly.
- That’s it! Refrigerate in individual ramekin bowls overnight.