I just realised the other day that I hadn’t eaten chocolate mousse in a long time. Certainly not chocolate mousse in the sense of eating it straight from a bowl, served with nothing more than a spoon. B hadn’t either, but only because most mousses contain cream, which he, being lactose intolerant, can’t have. When I saw Alice Medrich’s recipe for Albert’s Mousse, a chocolate mousse she devised for her brother who couldn’t eat dairy, I knew I had to make this for him.
These days, people would probably laugh and call it quaint and homely, if you served them an unadorned bowl of chocolate mousse. It needs to be tricked up, in layers, or presented with height, with frills like spun sugar, glazed nuts or gold leaf, before we would even look twice. I love the frills, but when faced with a mousse stripped bare, I’m reminded again, of just how good some basics are. Chocolate mousse that is smooth and rich, yet incredibly light and airy, with the delight of trapped bubbles bursting against the roof of your mouth with each spoonful. Things can only get more MA 15+ from then on!
Of course, if you want to complicate life, you could serve it as a chocolate cigar. Pipe the mousse into cigar shaped chocolate tuilles, and seal the ends by dipping into melted chocolate, if you wish. Place the cigars alongside a dish of “coffee and donuts”. I baked some spiced hazelnut financiers at work many weeks ago that someone said tasted like donuts. It got me thinking about a coffee and donut dessert, a la Keller. At home, I baked the financiers (stuffed in the middle with a few squares of chocolate) in a larger mould, and served them with coffee flavoured chocolate sauce, chocolate coated coffee crumble and a cinnamon foam. A coffee ice-cream, incorporated into this dessert somehow, would have been great too. But don’t forget, it all starts with that amazing chocolate mousse.
Albert’s Mousse :
(makes about 4 cups; from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich)
170g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (50% – 62%), finely chopped
70g water, coffee, or milk, or 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy, rum or liquor of choice
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar
Place the chocolate and the water (or liquid of your choice) in a medium heatproof bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate is nearly melted. Remove the bowl and stir until completely melted and smooth. Stir in the liquor, if using, and set aside.
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs with the 3 tablespoons of water and the sugar until well blended. Set the bowl in a skillet of not-even-simmering water and, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling, cook until they register 71’C on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bowl and beat with an electric mixer at high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the eggs have a texture like softly whipped cream. Fold about one-quarter of the eggs into the chocolate. Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the remaining beaten eggs and fold just until evenly incorporated. Divide the mousse into ramekins. Chill for at least 1 hour, or until set, before serving.
Serve topped with whipped cream, if desired.