As I anticipated friends arriving for dinner the other night, I mused over what dessert I might make. I had Cox Orange Pippin apples, which are perfect in a fragrant tart. I had Conference pears, which are gorgeous, poached. I had blood oranges, clementines, kumquats. They might have made something wonderful.
But what I really wanted was chocolate. It’s rare that I would come to this conclusion, but when apples, pears, oranges and other winter fruits have been on the menu in various guises for weeks on end, chocolate becomes the real fruit of the season.
And so, I did what I often do and settled on something pure and simple. I decided to make chocolate mousse.
I have what I like to think is the best ever chocolate mousse recipe. I got it from a charcutier’s wife in Brittany, and it’s made with salted butter, which makes it distinctive, and utterly addictive.
I will share the recipe here, which I lightened from the original with an extra egg white. Chocolate mousse is the simplest possible dessert to make, but there are a couple of tips to making it perfect, and I’ll let you in on what they are.
First, choose good chocolate. If you can find an organic one with depth of flavor, use it (and please tell me what it is). So far I haven’t found one with the depth of flavor I want, so I use either Lindt or Valrhona, 52 to 60%. Don’t be tempted to use a higher percentage chocolate; your mousse will end up dry.
Cut the chocolate into small pieces. It will melt more easily into the butter.
Use 3 egg yolks and four egg whites, for perfect texture.
Whisk the egg whites to soft – not stiff – peak stage, so they incorporate easily and thoroughly into the chocolate.
Finally, put a small dollop of your favorite jam or marmalade at the bottom of the dish or glass you’ll use to serve the mousse. It creates a beautiful surprise!
Mousse au Chocolate
7 ounces (200 g) semi-sweet chocolate, preferably Lindt or Valrhona
4 tablespoons (2 ounces;60g) lightly salted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon very strong coffee, or you may flavor this with Grand Marnier, Cognac, or rum
1. Melt the chocolate and the butter in a double boiler over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks and the coffee. Let cool
2. Place the egg whites and the salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of a mixer fit with a whisk, and whisk until they form soft peaks. Fold one-fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites. If you are using marmalade or jelly, put 1 teaspoon in the bottom of each glass or container, and cover with chocolate mousse. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 24, tightly covered.