“Dessert enabled me to fulfil a long-held restaurant-going ambition. As the waitress poured a molten Caramac sauce over a dark chocolate mousse, melting through the set top and gushing into the cavity below, my date emitted a low, involuntary and almost orgasmic moan. With immaculate comic timing a woman at the next table told the waitress, ‘I’ll have what she’s having’”
Tim Harford, Financial Times describing an experience at Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 in Padstow
Needless to say I had to try this, and I can testify to emitting a fairly similar moan. I couldn’t find Caramac, so I used bought salted caramel sauce (Tesco does this) or you could try the sauce made by Artisan du Chocolat. Or you can make your own. A successful, slightly less rich substitute for caramel sauce would be chopped, caramelised, lightly salted, pecans.
I found another variation when I went to go and see L’elisir d’amore – a fantastic performance at ROH with Nemorino played by Vittorio Grigolo and Doctor Dulcamara by Bryn Terfel (see below for a different version, gorgeous music). A special dish on the menu was L’elisir d’amore mousse au chocolat which was served with plums poached in kir, perhaps especially appropriate for this Valentine-permeated month.
And finally there is always the successful partnership – that of chocolate with orange. When my son was studying for his Cordon Bleu qualification in Paris he was taught to accompany chocolate mousse with an orange salad (they used Cointreau for soaking the oranges – I use whisky and orange bitters) and candied orange peel.
However, just on its own is relatively blissful. From the moment of first knowing him my beloved was harking back to the light as air but deeply chocolaty plate of perfection whipped up by his mother. Now after years of hard-grind experimentation I have finally hit on the au-point formula he concedes is … “almost as good as my mother used to make….” Praise indeed!
for four to six
- 250g/9 oz dark choc (minimum 70%)
- 140 ml/half a cup plus one tablespoon whipping cream
- 2 eggs separated, yolks beaten
- 6 egg whites OR 12 tbsp Two Chicks liquid egg whites*
- 2 tbsps Baileys… or Edradour, and you might also want to add a little extra depth with a couple of drops of Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Aphrodite bitters
- 40g/just less than ¼ cup caster sugar
- 3 tbsp salted caramel sauce
- melt the chocolate either using a heatproof glass bowl on a saucepan (best) or a bain marie (not so good as you can’t see that the bottom of the top saucepan is not touching the water in the bottom saucepan… or if you know what you’re up to you can use a microwave.
- heat the cream VERY gently in the microwave – get it to just above room temperature
- stir into chocolate
- stir in the egg yolks and the Baileys, move to a large mixing bowl
- beat the egg whites (add the two separated ones to the other six, or the Two Chicks) with an electric whisk in a completely dry metal bowl until they are stiff
- add the sugar and beat again until stiff
- using a large metal spoon and generous, circular, airy movements, gently fold the whites into the chocolate mix, slowly, spoonful by spoonful.
- chill for a minimum of three hours in the fridge
- take out of the fridge an hour before eating
*If you don’t want to have six egg yolks looking wistful every time you open the fridge for the next week you can buy a 500g carton of liquid Two Chicks egg whites which contains 15 egg whites. It will keep for about a week, and it is also possible to freeze it – not that you’d want eleven egg whites frozen all together any more than four spare egg yolks – but you could freeze them individually in ice trays – 2 tbsps is the equivalent to one egg white – quite useful for soufflés etc…
This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law