I’m all about the easy these days. Mousse is easy. Easy as A‑B-C-C-C‑C. By which I mean Absolutely Beautiful Chocolate, Coffee, Cardamom and Cinnamon Mousse. But let’s get one thing clear just because something is super easy doesn’t mean I can’t spend hours pouring over the details. Half (three-quarters?) of the fun in cooking (for me?) is researching how other folks do things. I think comparing recipes is the very best way to understanding what works best for you.
For me the most classic version of Chocolate Mousse comes from Elizabeth David, the British cookbook author who helped pull a post war England’s cookery into the modern world. Until she came along with her Medeterranean influences traditional British fare had been bouldering down the path of boring, bland and boiled. Her recipes maintain an element of British restraint, coupled with continental flair. They helped the world view of British cuisine enormously. Her simple chocolate mousse is simply one egg, and one ounce of chocolate per person. Deeply flavored, yet wonderfully light, it almost disappears while still on the tongue.
I think it’s a good road map for developing more nuanced versions of this classic dessert. Julia Child must have thought the same thing. Mastering the Art of French Cooking includes a much more romantic recipe for chocolate mousse. Julia’s mousse calls for all sorts of exotic ingredients, including ‘dark-brewed’ coffee, dark rum, and just as much butter as chocolate. She very clearly differentiates her mousse from Elizabeth David’s mousse. I’d even go as far as saying her version’s rambunctiousness is very clearly American. Elizabeth David’s more staunch version seems almost pinched in comparison.
Always the conciliator. My mousse comes somewhere between the two. The exotic notes in Julia’s version speaks to me absolutely. But when it comes to defining flavor I have often been accused of being ‘pinched’ myself, because I like very precise definitions sometimes. GREG
- 5 oz dark chocolate, plus extra for grating
- 3 oz fresh brewed espresso, at room temperature
- 2 cardamom pods, husks discarded and seeds lightly crushed
- 0.5 t ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 T sugar
- 4 T whipped cream, as garnish
Place four 5 ounce ramekins or serving glasses in the refrigerator. The mousse will set more quickly in a cold dish.
Break the chocolate into chunks, then put in a large heatproof bowl with the coffee, cardamom pods and cinnamon. Set over a pan of simmering water for about 3 minutes until the chocolate has melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and making sure that the bowl is not touching the hot water. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Once the chocolate has cooled for a few minutes, then strain to remove pods and to improve texture.
Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, using a wooden spoon. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and, using a balloon whisk or an electric beater, whisk to soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is glossy and meringue-like.
Fold a spoonful of the whites into the melted chocolate to lighted the mixture, then carefully and lightly fold in the rest of the meringue. Spoon the mixture into the chilled ramekins or glasses and chill for at least 40 minutes (or up to 2 hours). Serve on plates with a good dollop of whipped cream topped with a little grated chocolate.