Bigger Pots of Happiness, AKA Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Orange Zest (from French Brasserie Bookbook by Daniel Galmiche, 2011)
I am an impulsive sort of a girl. Within half an hour of watching a Masterchef quarter-final contestant make chocolate mousse, I was back from the shops and making chocolate mousse.
Chocolate mousse is apparently fraught with dangers: overwhisking, overworking and seizing chocolate (ouch) to name but a few. As Peter Bayless, himself a former winner of Masterchef, said during Friday’s episode, “To get the mousse light and airy… very difficult“. Well lately I feel like my dishes have been almost there but not quite. I’ve made small errors that have kept my food from being exactly how I want it to be, and how it should be. So I was pretty determined to rise to this challenge and nail it.
First the candied orange zest, which I was fully convinced I would get totally wrong, and yet somehow managed to get totally right. Then the chocolate-melting (bowl not touching boiling water so it wouldn’t seize into a thick dark mess), the egg-beating (bowl not touching boiling water so it wouldn’t become scrambled egg) and the cream-whisking (it’s a delicate balance managing to get cream to thicken into soft peaks but not overwhisking it into stiff peaks, which would completely defeat the moussiness of the mousse).
After the post-danger chilling; the assemblage. Mousse, chocolate sauce (blobbed on top, since it has been a while since I last made food that looked like boobs) and zest placed as artfully as I could muster. I stood back expecting to be utterly underwhelmed, as I had become accustomed to being, by the standards of my presentation and general result. But OH. MY. Could I possibly be impressed by my own creation? Dipping my spoon in… it’s actual mousse, you know, like actual mousse, all moussey and that. It is light and full of air bubbles (pic 4). It is bloody tasty too. I love the sharp sweetness of the zest cutting through the richness of the chocolate, which melts so perfectly in the mouth, and releases waves of delicious happiness so great, it’s practically a happy tsunami.
John Torode complained that he could only eat a couple of mouthfuls at most of the contestant’s mousse because it is so rich. All hail Gregg Wallace for his response: “Get your pudding spoon out and man up“.
Need this (makes 4):
1/2 orange / 90g caster sugar / 100g dark chocolate / 3 eggs / 150ml double cream / 1 tbsp icing sugar
For the zest: cut fine strips of zest (no pith) with knife or zester / cover with cold water in saucepan & boil / immediately remove from heat, drain, wash with cold water / return to pan, cover with cold water & boil again / remove from heat, drain, wash with cold water again / return to pan with 2tbsp of the sugar & 3 tbsp water / boil & cook 5 mins until transparent / remove from heat & leave to cool in pan / drain when cool (pic 1)
For the mousse: melt 75g chocolate in bowl over pan of boiling water (bowl not touching water or chocolate will seize) / rest of sugar, 3 egg yolks & 2 tbsp warm water in another bowl over boiling water (bowl not touching water or eggs will cook) / beat for about 10 mins over heat until pale, thick & forms ribbons (pic 2) / slowly stir in melted chocolate / another bowl; whisk cream & icing sugar to soft peaks (not overwhisking to stiff peaks or mousse will not be light) / fold into chocolate mixture gently & slowly (not overworking or mousse will lose airiness) / into ramekins (pic 3) / cling film & chill 1 hour
For topping: melt rest of chocolate in same way as before /pour, drizzle, plonk on top of mousses / arrange zest artfully