Chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse
Chocolate mousse

There are so many recipes for chocolate mousse out there and many of them follow the same formula – melt chocolate and butter together, add egg yolks then whip up egg whites. Add whipped cream at the end.

Nigella Lawson has even produced an instant chocolate mousse that uses marshmallows as the setting agent and avoids eggs altogether.

But if you want the ultimate chocolate mousse, you really can’t go past Julia Child’s mousseline au chocolat.

What makes this recipe unique is the beating off the yolks over a bain-marie. It’s this process that creates a thick, foamy base to the mousse.

It also means that you don’t need to add any whipped cream, unless you want to serve it with a blob on top.

This recipe requires several different processes but each are relatively simple.

You are guaranteed to have a dead arm by the end though with all of the whisking, so I’d recommend using a handheld beater if you have one.

I recently spent some time with a professional baker and picked up an excellent tip that I got to try out with this recipe – when you need to fold egg whites into a mixture, use your hands.

It may sound gross, but you can let the mix run through your fingers and feel what you’re doing to the egg whites.

It worked really well with this mousse and I’ll definitely be trying it on sponge based cakes from now on.

Chocolate mousse
Chocolate mousse

Mousseline au chocolat (adapted from Julia Child)

4 eggs, separated
¾ cup caster sugar
¼ orange liqueur (can be substituted for dark rum)
170g dark chocolate
4 tbsp strong coffee
170g butter
1 extra tbsp. caster sugar

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until you have a thick, pale yellow mixture that falls back on itself. Beat in the orange liqueur.

Set the bowl on a pan of not-quite-simmering water and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is hot to the touch and foamy.

Remove from the heat and place over a bowl of cold water, then beat for a further 3-4 minutes until you have mixture like mayonnaise.

In a separate pan, melt the chocolate and the coffee. Remove from the heat and slowly add in the butter piece by piece until you have a smooth glossy cream.

Beat the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks then add the final 1 tbsp sugar. Continue to beat until you have stiff peaks.

Mix 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mix, then fold in the rest.

Pour into cups and leave in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

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Strawberry mousse

Strawberry mousse
Strawberry mousse

Last week was a bit of a cheat’s mousse, so this week I was determined to go old school authentic.

And who else to turn to but Michel Roux for a classic berry mousse?

I’d originally planned to use frozen raspberries for this recipe, but for some reason there were some fantastic looking strawberries in the supermarket – just when you thought berries had gone out of season!

So now this is a strawberry mousse spiked with Cointreau rather than Michel’s raspberry mousse spiked with kirsch.

I’ll say upfront that while this recipe was easy enough, it sure was messy! I felt like I used every bowl, whisk, spatula and saucepan in my kitchen.

And that’s because it’s essentially a number of individual processes brought together at the last minute.

I started by making the Italian meringue which was a first for me. I’d been nervous in the past about dealing with sugar syrups but this was surprisingly simple.

The berry purée was also a breeze although I think I may need to invest in a finer sieve because there are loads of tiny seeds in my mousse.

I knew from last week’s post that gelatine needed to be melted if going into a cold mixture and loved the idea of melting it in booze – genius!

Now that I’ve mastered this simple mousse recipe, I’m looking forward to pimping it up as Michel suggests – rolling it into a roulade or layering it on top of a sponge finger mousse.

I’m planning in the not too distant future to try out a Charlotte and some verrines to bring together cakes, biscuits and mousses in one go.

Strawberry mousse

1 ½ sheets leaf gelatine
300ml strawberry purée (made by blending and sieving approx. 400g fruit)
100ml whipping cream
2 tbsp Cointreau
2 egg whites
120g caster sugar
10g liquid glucose
25 ml water

Soak the gelatine in a shallow dish of cold water and allow to soften for 5 minutes.

Make an Italian meringue by heating the sugar, liquid glucose and water in a saucepan over a medium heat. When it reaches 110 degrees, starting to whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. When the sugar syrup reaches 121 degrees, remove it from the heat. Pour into the egg whites in a steady stream, then leave to mix over a medium speed for 15 minutes.

Pour the strawberry purée into a bowl and mix in the Italian meringue using a balloon whisk.

In another bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks, then fold into the meringue mixture using a plastic spatula.

Heat the Cointreau over a medium heat, then add the gelatine leaves (removing any excess water beforehand). When dissolved, pour into the meringue mixture and fold through gently.

Pour into glasses and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.