Chocolate mousse, detail from.
Chocolate mousse was a big thing in the Barbieri household when I was a bambina. Mostly, I have to say, because my mum would serve it in those saucer champagne glasses – the sort that very few people use now (they let the bubbles out too fast, but how long does one hold a glass of champagne for??) but growing up, in the 1970’s, you used to see them far more.
I fully intend to serve my chocolate mousse in those glasses just as soon as I can nick them from my folks’ house. In the meantime I serve them in little white pots – Gu desserts used to come in them when Gu desserts first came out.
Having a six year old meant it was only a matter of time before I’d have to revive the tradition of chocolate mousse. We used to have it only occasionally when I was a child, but these days, we have it after Sunday lunch, every Sunday. Rituals are important to small children (and me). This is also a great dessert to make in advance and stick in the fridge, so it’s one less thing to think about if you’re entertaining. It uses raw egg, which I guess I must point out you shouldn’t eat if you’re pregnant/old/young/allergic to eggs. Etc. Otherwise, this is the recipe and how you make it. And yes I will stop talking about food soon-ish.
This is a bastardisation of my mother’s recipe and Nigella’s. I’ve tried many others but this makes for a really nice, light, mousse that has zero added sugar, has all the natural goodness of high cocoa content chocolate, has a good chocolate hit without alienated small children or making them fly around the room afterwards.
You will need:
For four people (this makes quite a small amount, the idea is that you have a good hit of chocolate so you don’t need to pig out on it). It’s easy to double up on if you need more.
50g 70% cocoa chocolate (I use Waitrose Continental Plain Chocolate, 70%. I recommend you do too, it’s excellent).
50g 37% cocoa chocolate (I use Green and Black’s Cooking Milk Chocolate)
2 eggs at room temperature separated. It doesn’t really matter if they’re medium or large, whatever you have. Remember it’s the white of the egg that changes with the size of the egg, not the yolk. So it figures that if you use large, or extra large eggs you’ll have more white of egg, ergo more whisked egg whites, ergo more mousse…so it’s quite a good way of making less go further or ending up with a slightly lighter mousse. *
a pinch of salt
Put the chocolate in a bowl above a simmering pan of water. When melted, take off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. In the meantime whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl, until they’re stiff and you can turn the bowl upside down.
Beat the yolks and the pinch of salt into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the whisked egg whites with a metal spoon. I find it works better with a metal spoon.
Poor into suitable receptacles: small espresso cups, ramekins, small pot things and chill overnight or for a few hours. I’d personally not keep this for more than about two days.
* update March 2013. If I need to make this mousse go further, or I just want to make it lighter, I just add more egg whites.
A nice topping for this is the white chocolate cream.