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Recipe: Mousse au chocolat

PUBLISHED: 16:56 07 October 2014 | UPDATED: 11:45 02 September 2015

Mousse au chocolat  © Snap and Stir

Mousse au chocolat © Snap and Stir

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Find out the origins of this rich chocolate mousse and make your own with Mary Cadogan's easy recipe

No matter what style or class of restaurant – from humble workers’ café to gourmet destination – you will pretty much always find mousse au chocolat on the menu. There are countless variations, but the basic recipe of dark chocolate, whipped egg whites and a little sugar is pretty much universal. Cream is a popular addition, as is a little butter, adding a velvety richness to the mousse and tempering the bitter flavour of the dark chocolate.

The origins of this crowd-pleasing dessert are a bit fuzzy. Since chocolate was introduced to France from Spain in the early 17th century, French chefs have been cooking with chocolate in all manner of desserts. Mousse means foam, and it is the combination of whipped egg whites stabilised with melted chocolate to trap the air bubbles that gives this dessert its texture. Change the balance of chocolate and egg whites, and it can range from light and frothy to dense and creamy.

As with all simple recipes, the quality of ingredients is key, particularly the chocolate. I would recommend choosing a good quality, dark cooking chocolate with at least 60% cocoa solids, which is what will give the essential ‘chocolatiness’. A word of warning though – go over 80% and you are looking at a seriously bitter flavour. In France, I would go for Lindt, or in England for Green & Black’s, but if you have a favourite brand then use that. For perfect results, you need to be careful to heat the chocolate gently. Break it up to speed up the process and stir it occasionally until just melted. Overheating will result in it becoming thick and grainy and there is no rescuing it if that happens. Also, take care not to whip your egg whites too stiffly, just until they hold their shape in a light foam. Over-whipping will make it difficult to fold them into the chocolate. Just remember that a good mousse needs at least four hours in the fridge to chill to perfection, so if you are able to make it the day before serving, it will be all the better for it.

RECIPE

This is undoubtedly a rich dessert so small portions are greatly appreciated. It looks wonderful served in small cups or sherry glasses with a couple of crisp biscuits such as langues de chator tuiles on the side.

Serves 6

Ingredients

150g dark chocolate, preferably at least 60% cocoa solids

25g butter

3 eggs

2 tbsp caster sugar

100ml double cream

Method

1. Grate 50g of the chocolate and set aside in a bowl in the fridge. Break up the remaining chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Either set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until melted or place in the microwave on medium for 1½-2 mins, stirring halfway through.

2. Leave the melted chocolate to cool for a few minutes. Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a large bowl and stirring the lightly beaten yolks into the melted chocolate. Whip the cream until it just hold its shape, then fold into the chocolate and egg yolk mixture.

3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar. Fold one third of the egg whites into the chocolate, using the whisk blades to cut through the mixture until evenly combined, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Spoon carefully into six small dishes, or glasses, and leave to set for at least four hours, or overnight. Just before serving sprinkle with the reserved grated chocolate.

TIP: To fill the glasses neatly, spoon the mousse into a large food bag, snip off one corner and pipe the mousse into the glasses.

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