I don’t have a great deal of experience making desserts which is a shame, because I sure love eating them. Searching youtube for inspiration, I came across this video and decided I would try my hand at chocolate mousse.
The main thing to remember is that mousse is a texture, not a recipe as such. A mousse is characteristically airy, in that you can feel the air bubbles and is quite light when you eat it. But a mousse can range from chocolate, to strawberries to chicken liver. It’s all about achieving that light consistency by incorporating the right ingredients together in the right way.
There are a number of ways to make chocolate mousse. Some recipes call for cream, some for olive oil, some, like in this video use only melted chocolate!
I went for a recipe that used cream as I wanted the mousse to have a velvety creamy richness:
200g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup caster sugar
300ml pouring cream
Riding my wave of inspiration, I decided to add a layer of orange curd, much like the 2nd contestant in the masterchef video:
Juice of 1 1/2 medium oranges
Orange zest from 1 medium orange
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
I made the orange curd first as it needed to cool in order to layer it with the chocolate mousse. Combine the zest, orange juice, egg yolks and sugar into a thick bottomed pan. Turn the heat up to medium and begin whisking vigorously. Don’t allow the mixture to boil so adjust the heat accordingly. After 10 or so minutes, the mixture will reduce and begin to foam. Add the butter and continue whisking for 5 or so minutes until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Pass it through a sieve and allow to cool.
Next, add a few cups of water to a small pan and rest a bowl over it while it simmers. Add the chocolate to the bowl and melt it. Once it’s in a liquid state add the butter and stir until incorporated. Take the bowl off the heat.
Before we start combining the rest of the ingredients, it is crucial that you fold them into the chocolate mixture gently because you don’t want to knock out the air bubbles that will give the mousse it’s airy properties.
Take the egg yolks and blend with an electric whisker, adding the caster sugar in slowly until the colour turns pale yellow and starts to look like whipped cream. Fold into the chocolate mixture gradually.
Take the egg whites and whisk until soft white peaks form. Again, fold into the chocolate mixture.
Finally, take the cream and whisk until you get close to the consistency of whipped cream. Make sure not to over whisk it. Fold into the chocolate mixture. It should look something like this:
For presentation, I bought a bag of plastic wine glasses from coles. They are great for measuring portion size and look quite smart once you layer the curd underneath. Not to mention you can simply throw them away once you are finished with them.
I added 2 tbsp of orange curd then went up to just under 3/4 of the way up the cup. You can add more or less but I figured this would be a good ratio of curd to mousse. Once you have divided the mixture evenly, let them set in the fridge for 2 hours. If everything went to plan, they might look like this:
So the big question is, did they work? Well, not quite. Early on in the process I was struggling to get the chocolate to a true liquid consistency so I went ahead and started adding in the other ingredients. I was definitely getting the air bubbles and the taste was spot on, however it was just too dense for a mousse which is a shame because the combination of chocolate and orange curd is just delicious!
Learnings: Allow the chocolate to get to a true liquid state before combining the other ingredients. I might even be tempted to leave out the cream as well. Or even go for Heston Blumenthals version that uses pure chocolate and water cooled over an ice bath.
Stay tuned for my next version in ‘revenge of the mousse’.