Today was an unusual day, with me up at five to drive Liam to his meeting point to go on the annual rugby club trip. This year it’s to Toulon and, if all goes well, they will be visiting the famous Stade Mayol the morning after the European Cup final Toulon is hoping to win for a third time.
A messed-up sleep pattern, a rainy day and too much telly have left me with neither the inspiration nor the inclination to cook. I managed to churn out some dinner, but it was sustenance more than pleasure. There are days like that.
My lack of enthusiasm seems to have left someone with an empty spot, a craving that only chocolate seems to be able to fill. This is not a feeling I can identify with, since I don’t like chocolate at all, not plain, nor in any other form, but I do have the kind of recipes needed in such a situation.
According to my husband, the expert, the simplest and best way to eat chocolate is…
as Mousse au chocolat!
So here is how I make mine.
What you need:
5-6 very fresh eggs
200g good quality dark chocolate
a pinch of salt
I can hear banging and crashing in the kitchen, so preparations are in full swing. There is also a certain amount of swearing (the eggs are at fault, and the door of the microwave has done something), but don’t worry, the method is foolproof.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a mixing bowl with a blob of salted butter (optional).
You can do this in the microwave, stirring frequently to avoid the chocolate burning, or you can melt it over a pot of simmering water (called a bain-marie).
- Separate the eggs and whip the egg whites until firm with a pinch of salt.
- Mix the egg yolks with the melted chocolate.
- Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture in three goes, taking care not to knock all the air out of them.
- Spoon into small dishes and put int the fridge overnight.
You can flavour the chocolate mousse in different ways. I tend to mix in a few spoonfuls of strong coffee into the chocolate mixture. Sometimes I mix in some cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg or cardamon, but on fancy days even a few Tonka bean shavings. You can even try powdered Cayenne pepper!
You can play at sunken treasure by placing a fresh raspberry or a Malteser in the bottom of your dishes, or choose to top your mousse with chopped roasted pistacios or crushed meringue. Just have fun with it.
In our house, the challenge seems to be waiting the required time for it to set.
My aunt has just pointed out that it’s gluten free, so that’s good news for coeliacs with a sweet tooth.
Just as an aside, I always use free-range eggs, sometimes organic (but not generally). Blind tests have shown that experts could not taste the difference between organic, free-range or battery eggs. My reason for choosing eggs from ground-held hens allowed to roam outside with sufficient space to peck and scratch is purely an ethical one. I often have my own hens who lay their wonderful eggs just for me, but not right now as we are in rented accommodation. You can identify the type of egg you’re buying from the code printed on its shell. If it starts with 0, it’s organic. 1 is for free-range, 2 for ground-held and 3 for battery hens.