Pots of love

Jeremy Lee doles out choco­late mousse

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Jeremy Lee is the chef­pro­pri­etor of Quo Vadis restau­rant in Lon­don @jere­myleeqv Jeremy Lee

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!

Choco­late mousse

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

70% co­coa

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.

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