For this month’s International Incident Party, Penny challenged us to work with eggs. I have to admit this had me scratching my head as there are simply so many possibilities – sweet or savoury, I couldn’t decide. What I *really* wanted to do was a soufflé but circumstances (including my blasted hand that is *still* not 100% and particularly dislikes anything to do with baking, as you will see in my upcoming Daring Bakers’ post) prevented me from attempting this most delicate of French delicacies (but that will be for another time, I promise, it’s definitely on my baking bucket list).
I was still inspired by the idea that the French do wonderful things with eggs though and turned to Julia Child for some inspiration. As I flipped through the pages, I saw so many dishes I want to make eventually but when I turned to page 604 and saw chocolate mousse, I knew I had found my dish. (I am dedicating this dish to my dad – it’s his birthday today and I *know* he would like it if I were there making this for him!)
Julia’s mousse is different from other mousse recipes I have tried before because it uses egg yolks, sugar and butter instead of simply cream and beaten egg whites, and the egg yolks are cooked in a similar way to how you would make a hollandaise sauce (cooking it like a custard over heat then beating it until creamy over a cold-water bath). This custardy goodness (along with the addition of butter to the melted chocolate) brings a richness to the mousse that you simply don’t get with cream and beaten egg whites. It’s a keeper recipe for sure.
Serves 8 (I halved this recipe)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. Julia suggests a different order of proceedings – the cooked egg yolks first, but I didn’t trust that they would not curdle so I made it in a different order.
170 g bitter or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
170 g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
60 mls espresso coffee
4 eggs, separated
170 g, plus 1 tablespoon caster sugar
30 mls orange liqueur (I used Mandarine Napoleon)
15 mls water
pinch of salt
1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over barely simmering water, until combined. Remove from heat. Beat until smooth and set aside.
2. Fill a large bowl with ice-cold water in preparation for the next step.
3. Beat the yolks of the eggs with the 170g of sugar, liqueur, and water with a hand-held beater (well I did because that’s all I could manage with my hand) for a couple of minutes until the mixture is falling back upon itself and is thick, pale and yellow. Over a double boiler of just simmering water, continue to beat the mixture until is is a little foamy. Remove from heat and continue to beat over the bowl of ice-water for another 3-4 minutes until it has the consistency of runny mayonnaise.
3. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, beat egg whites with salt until frothy (think bubble bath consistency). Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
5. Fold about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate/egg yolk mixture at a time. Try to work quickly and not overwork the mixture – the mousse will lose volume the more you “play” with it.
6. Divide into ramekins, and refrigerate for a few hours (mine were firm in about 3 hours).
To serve, you can either enjoy it as is…
I absolutely loved this mousse – it was rich without being cloying and sickly and oh my, the texture… It was not light and fluffy the way many mousses are. It was thick and spreadable – in fact I did contemplate having it on toast 😉 It’s a much more substantial mousse than a whipped cream wimpy one. This is, indeed, the crème de la crème, only sans crème.
This *will* become my standard mousse recipe – I had it made in under 45 minutes too!
Note: This recipe is the JC100 recipe for the week of May 14th 2012. Since I already made it (and don’t need a mousse this week!) I’ll submit this one as my “entry”. The JC100 celebrates what would have been Julia’s 100th birthday in August 2012 by inviting bloggers to recreate some of her most famous dishes!