I can’t remember who taught me how to make this. Romantically I would love it to have been handed down to me from my grandmother, who died at 92 when I was pregnant with Minty. In reality the chocolate mousse we ate together came in individual plastic pots from Marks & Spencer’s.
That said the recipe is remarkably similar to the one in Elizabeth David’s French Country Cooking so maybe she did… I’d like to think so. Her Penguin copy of E.D. sat in her kitchen on an upper shelf and when you took it down a couple of yellowed pages would flutter out. What I’d give to own that book today.
As a child I named her Mouli Granny – after her cat – and the name stuck. Little did I know then that the cat was named after that all important E.D. kitchen gadget the mouli. First on E.D.s list of must haves is the purée-maker: “The best and cheapest of these is a French one, called the mouli.” Mouli certainly introduced me to French food via Elizabeth David, a desire to travel to Italy and beyond from the postcards she’d send back on her Etruscan tours and to Greek cuisine through Tony who ran the Albert Street corner shop (long before he opened Lemonia in Primrose Hill).
At the end of the evening Mouli Granny liked a little piece of chocolate. I miss her every day and whenever I eat chocolate I think of her and smile. This one’s for you Mouli. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to a signature dish in that Minty always claims I make the best chocolate mousse of anyone! But then she may be biased!
Mousse au Chocolate
The general rule is 1 egg/1 ounce of chocolate per person. I like to use a little more chocolate. If I’m making more than four servings I make it in batches – this way the chocolate and eggs are combined easily without the egg deflating and your arm dropping off from the stirring! I also like to serve it in small individual glasses – not only does it look very pretty, it’s enough to give guests a tasty treat without being too rich at the end of dinner or for the kids to eat without feeling sick.
Servings: 8 petits pots
3.5 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate finely chopped or chips
1 tablespoon of warm water (espresso or cognac can be substituted)
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
Pinch of fleur de sel
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
What to do:
1. In a large bowl melt the chocolate in the microwave – be careful not to overheat. Add the water.
2. In the stand mixer bowl whisk the egg whites with the salt until they are just beginning to get white and frothy. Add the sugar. Whisk until they form shiny stiff peaks. Be careful not to over whip or the whites will separate and there’s no going back (if this happens discard and start again).
3. Stir the egg yolks, one at a time, into the melted chocolate.
4. Stir in a quarter of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it up.
5. Add the rest of the whites and fold in until fully combined, balancing between being thorough and not overworking. If the chocolate isn’t properly blended the chocolate can sink to the bottom. If it is over mixed there won’t be any air left leaving a heavy chocolate sauce.
6. Spoon the mixture into little glasses, top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to set.
Serve as is, with a sprinkling of fleur de sel or with raspberries and whipped cream.