For a chocolate mousse for four to six people, you’ll need:
1 vanilla pod
250g whipping cream
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons seriously strong espresso coffee
100g to 120g dark chocolate
Chocolate fanatics swear by the brand they favour and its percentage of the pure stuff. If you fall into this category, stick with a 70% slab of dark Lindt. But if this degree of finesse seems excessive for a mere pudding, Nestle Albany (no nuts, no fruit) will do a very good job.
First thought: The chocolate. It’s possible, even at this early stage, to go right over the top with this recipe. Next: The vanilla. Of course, you can use a liquid substitute, or if you wish, leave it out entirely. I’ve stuck to the real thing because it’s a total flavour blast. Finally, coffee. I drink espresso by the litre every day so the stuff is never unavailable. To produce a good, black coffee quickly, use freshly ground beans and boiling water in a coffee press. Instant coffee, so long as it 100%, will make an adequate contribution to the final effect.
Moving on: Whip the cream, then store it under refrigeration until required. If you’re using the optional vanilla pod, split this vertically and reserve the seeds. Select a double boiler and bring the water temperature in the lower pan up to warm, but not boiling. In the upper section, slowly and carefully combine the chocolate, butter, optional vanilla seeds and seriously strong black coffee. The resultant mixture should be warm, but not hot – 38C is ideal. Separate the eggs. If this is your first attempt at egg separation, keep a fourth or maybe even a fifth egg as spares. Whip the egg whites, add the sugar, and complete the whipping until the mixture forms soft peaks.
Stir the yolks into the warm chocolate mix. Add about 40% of the whipped cream. Gently add half the whipped egg white and sugar mix, taking care not to mix it too vigorously. Add the rest of the egg-white mix, plus the remainder of the whipped cream. The key word here is “gently”. Too much stirring has unwanted effects on the density of the final product. Decant the mousse into individual servings. Wine glasses look good. Add some whipped cream for the general presentation, then chill for six hours before eating.
A fresh mint leaf looks magnificent and provides a pleasing accent to the final flavour. Like all chocolate experiences, this one leaves a mild sense of sadness as the mousse vanishes from the bowl. The only cure – and trust me, some of my best friends are psychologists – is to make twice as much. Enjoy!