As kids, my brother and I would have killed for chocolate mousse. It was the most rich and awesome thing we could ever imagine and we would request it all the time (even if it rarely appeared). We were so addicted to the idea of fluffy, light chocolate that we’d sneak those tubs of the supermarket version into the trolley when Mum looked away. If she didn’t see them earlier, when you got to the checkout I reckon you had a fifty percent chance of taking one home, depending on whether she thought it was cute or annoying that you’d slipped one in. If you’d been lucky, you’d eat it on the couch at home real slowly with a teaspoon while watching Ren & Stimpy and there was nothing better.
I thought of this the other day when I was in the mood for chocolate. And I realised that it had been a long, long time since I’d eaten any kind of chocolate mousse – especially the real, rich and deadly French stuff. So, of course, I made some. And it was divine! This intense and full-flavoured dessert is not something I could eat too often, but if it’s been a while, that first spoonful leaves you wondering if there’s anything better.
As you might imagine, its success relies heavily on the quality of the chocolate you use. For this, I like something about 60% cocoa (bittersweet), but if you are more of a 70% and up kinda kid, I say go for it. Just remember that the addition of alcohol makes the flavour a bit more intense. Needless to say, Anthony Bourdain wasn’t rushing to stick a maraschino cherry on top of his version, but, as you might imagine, I was. Oh well, chacun sa route.
Grown-up Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook
Makes 6 small, but rich servings
170g good-quality dark chocolate
60 ml brandy (or Grand Marnier, if you have it=yum)
4 eggs, separated
2 tbsp sugar
½ cup heavy cream
Maraschino cherry to garnish
Place chopped or broken chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt. Stir as you go so that chocolate doesn’t burn. When completely melted, whisk in brandy and butter, bit by bit, until it has melted and the whole lot looks glossy and good enough to stick your finger in. Don’t though – it’s very hot. Whisk in the egg yolks, one by one.
In a clean bowl, whip the eggwhites until they form soft peaks, adding the sugar a sprinkle at a time. Whisk about a quarter of this mixture into the chocolate, then gently, gently fold in the remaining.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks, then add to chocolate mixture and fold in. Gently transfer the mousse to a large serving bowl, or pipe into glasses for individual serves, as above. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with extra cream, a mint garnish, a maraschino cherry – or all of the above.