29 March 2009

hard to spoil, yet harder to master

There are things that just can't be improved on.

Sometimes, food falls into that category. Especially when it's a classic, perfectly simple and delicious recipe, with only a few ingredients that come together to form something much better than the sum of its parts.

Even, as it is the case with this recipe here, if this means making a desert from nothing but chocolate, butter, eggs and a lot of air. This definitely is nothing for people counting their calorie intake, and probably not even for those with a sweet tooth who need to be able to eat substantial amounts of whatever there is for pudding.

This mousse au chocolat is perfect, it is velvety, sumptuous and voluptuous to a degree that anything more than a small bowl of it will leave you unable to stand up from your chair again. It'll steamroll you with magnificence, so to say. Please apply with appropriate consideration.

This is a recipe from a German Paul Bocuse cooking book 'Bocuse a la carte'. The book was my first foray into 'celebrity cooking', and apart from this one dish, I can't remember a thing of it. I've always been wary of anyone needing to see his face on the cover of a book.

Yet for this one recipe alone, the 'king of cooks' definitely deserves some of all those accolades in my eyes.

Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the finished mousse...

mousse au chocolat
(generously serves six)

200g dark chocolate (65% or more)
125g butter
6 very fresh eggs, separated
130g sugar (or less, if you like)
[edit: a pinch of salt]
20 - 50ml mocca or espresso (optional)

In a small casserole, gently melt the butter and the cocolate. Leave to cool for a moment, until no warmer than the inside of your wrist.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with about a third of the sugar [and the salt] until they form soft peaks.

In another bowl, mix the yolks with the remaining sugar until white and fluffy and quite stiff as well.
If you are in a hurry, you can save time by first just mixing the yolks with the sugar, then starting to beat up the whites. Once you are finished with those, most of the sugar will already have dissolved in the yolks, and they will go fluffy much faster.

Carefully fold the butter-chocolate mix and the coffee into the yolks.
No need to have both creams really incorporated, just mostly so. Each time you have to touch the mousse is once too often.

Gently fold in one third of the whites, then the rest.
If your whites are too stiff, you'll have chunks of the remaining like little 'îles flottantes', if they are too soft, the mousse will deflate before you get it well incorporated. This sounds much worse than it actually is, but after a few times, you'll see the difference. This is one of those dishes that is hard to spoil yet harder to master.

Pour into a glass bowl or individual containers and chill for at least twelve hours.
Due to the high amount of air, the mousse will cool down and solidify only very slowly.

The mousse goes well on its own, or maybe with some whipped cream or vanilla custard.

Due to the use of raw eggs, it doesn't keep at all.


Anonymous said...

Mmmm, I love a good mousse made w/raw egg. I've made mousse using a pate a bombe, and that's good, too (there really is no way that chocolate mousse can be bad, after all), but the fresh yolks just lend that extra bit of unctuousness:)

I would also add a healthy pinch of salt to round off any possibly bitter edge from the chocolate.

Reuben Morningchilde said...

Jenni, you're completely right about the salt. It's so natural to me that I've plainly forgotten to mention it.

Thanks for commenting!