Pots of love
Jeremy Lee doles out chocolate mousse
Has there ever been a question quite so loaded with hope as: “Is there chocolate mousse for pudding?” One wouldn’t want to send one’s poor, hopeful diners into a gloomy decline with little chance of return … Might this be the reason why we put a chocolate mousse on the pudding menu at Quo Vadis, even giving the little pot of joy its own box? It is even given billing above chocolate profiteroles.
Chocolate mousse is as familiar to us all as The Sound of Music, the prospect of which excites the same range of emotions – from utter delight to utter dread. I confess to loving both the pudding and the musical. For now, though, I won’t waste another breath on Julie Andrews’ epic masterpiece, but I will happily talk chocolate mousse.
This pudding has a unique allure, having survived some pretty ignominious maltreatment in days blessedly long gone, when a chocolate mousse had a texture more akin to Angel Delight and was the scourge of a packed lunch (the very thought of lunch-box-warm chocolate mousse gives this fella the heebies).
But I like puddings in pots or cups – a good three or so spoonfuls of something delicious. Chocolate mousse fits this bill perfectly. It is also a fine use, too, of an ever-increasing array of pots, bowls and cups that I’ve acquired from church bazaars and car boot sales over the course of many years. It’s a good conceit to have a few extra pots of mousse wrapped in the fridge for later in the week, when the pressures of daily life require the healing properties of a chocolate mousse pulled from the fridge late in the night.
A recipe of modest proportions allows the cook to splash out on a bar or two of the best chocolate available. The only rule that applies is the better, darker and more bitter the chocolate, the finer the chocolate mousse will be. The eager cook should seek out a chocolate of at least 70% cocoa solids to ensure a singular result and a marvellous pudding.
I was once delighted when a nutritionist extolled the virtues of a square of bitter plain chocolate enjoyed with an espresso and a splash of cream. Well, if you add an egg to the mix you have a mighty fine chocolate mousse. See – it’s good for you!
Note: the cups, bowls or pots you want to serve the mousse in must be scrupulously clean.
Makes 8 small pots, bowls or cups
250g plain chocolate of at least
5 eggs, unrefrigerated
1 single espresso (optional)
1 tsp caster sugar
250ml double cream
Jersey cream, to serve
1 Put the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl. Put this over a pan of gently simmering water, taking care that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Let the chocolate melt without touching or stirring it, having a care that the chocolate does not seize into a putty-like consistency.
2 Separate the eggs into two bowls, the whites into a larger one. If you are planning on adding the espresso, do so to the chocolate now, prior to adding the egg yolks, which you will do now, one at a time, until all is mixed together and smooth.
3 Beat the egg whites until they are peaked and then beat in the caster sugar, continuing until the peaks have become glossy.
4 Add one-third of the egg whites to the chocolate and beat thoroughly. Add one third of the double cream to the bowl and mix this well also. Continue thus until all is used up and the mousse is made. If it seems to collapse, fear not: the denser the texture the better.
5 Decant the mousse into the clean cups, bowls or pots. Cover well and refrigerate. Whisk the jersey cream into soft folds and refrigerate for later.
6 When ready to eat, serve the cream alongside or spooned atop.