For yesterday’s post; The Realization that Life is Good No Matter What, I had to rummage through photos I’ve taken over the years. Most of them I pulled from my personal FB albums. That’s when I came upon today’s “featured” photo in an album called “Mother’s Day 2013” (back before my blogging days). My wonderful guys had cooked up an awesome Mother’s Day meal for me. Okay, I did put together the menu, select the recipes and supervised – hovered over them but they did all the work. For Kiddo (my wonderful sou chef), this dessert wasn’t difficult to pull. For Hubby, our Master-Griller and Chief Dishwasher, it was a bit of a reach but with Kiddo’s help, they turned out an awesome dish. Chocolate Mousse with just a kiss of Cognac has to be one of my all time favorite desserts. What can I say – I’m a sucker for Chocolate and Cognac in anything is a good thing. Later; I’ll need to go back and look through the album in more detail to share an “old” new menu for Mother’s Day this year. For now, I’m sharing the best part of any meal – the dessert!
The first time I ever ate Chocolate Mousse (as in the “real” stuff, not that stuff in a box that you add milk to and whip it up), was in a lovely French Bistro on the edge of the East Side. (Here; where I live – not NY – there is an East Side – old-established money in grand homes. As you move toward the heart of the city, there is the Mid-Town – great markets – as in delis and bakeries and food co-ops, bistros and used book stores. Down town – some interesting places to eat but mainly government and big business, and then the river front of Old Town. Old Town has bars, restaurants and T-Shirt shops geared to the tourists.)
At the time I was living in Mid-Town area; in a great Victorian walk-up with a couple of remarkable room-mates. We all worked for the same grass-roots-issues-of-the day organization – Citizens Action League. Although I had a car, living in Mid-tow n we walked just about everywhere. Often you could find us at the same French Bistro, sipping champagne and eating the most wonderful Chocolate Mousse. When we weren’t “activists” Christina was an artist, very child-like and fragile. Sunita was – how do I explain Sunita? She had a degree in Political Science. After graduation, she found there really wasn’t much of a calling for people with a degree in Political Science. So she was back in college once again – majoring in Third World Government. Sunita felt she understood those less fortunate and would argue her point to the end, pointing out her thrift-store clothing as though shopping “used” somehow made you understand the plight of the under privileged. The realist (that would be me) pointed out that although her family came from India, we were drinking Champagne paid for with her father’s Platinum American Express. She was only now venturing out into a world beyond her father’s Atherton Compound with its full staff of live-in servants. She knew very little of what it meant to fend for herself. Her “poverty” was a self-imposed image. Eventually we went our separate ways, but the time we spent together sipping Champagne and dining on Chocolate Mousse while solving the world’s problems were some of the most intellectually stimulating times. These lovely ladies will always be close to my heart.
So ladies, this Mouse is for you. Cheers!
Mousse au Chocolat Nori
8 ounces semisweet dark chocolate, no more than 70%
1 cup Crème Fraîche or whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Cognac or another brandy
White chocolate shavings (optional)’
You will need 3 bowls for this recipe, two medium and one large, as well as a double boiler, a wire whip, an electric beater, a rubber spatula and a serving dish. As for the chocolate, the higher the quality, the better the mousse. It is recommended that the chocolate content of no more than 70 percent is used — otherwise your mousse will not be sweet enough.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in a large bowl. To avoid mishaps, separate them one by one over a glass before moving them into the appropriate bowls. That way, if a bit of yolk gets into one white, you will not have to jettison all the whites.
Set the whites aside for the moment. Whip the yolks with a wire whip until they are well blended.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. While it is melting, pour the cream into the third bowl and whip until firm with your electric beater. (Oh the beauty of a standing mixer).
Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and allow to cool slightly (1 minute). Pour the chocolate into the yolks and mix quickly with your wire whip or a wooden spoon. This will cool the chocolate and prevent the yolks from cooking. Once blended, add the cognac.
Mix in the whipped cream. The mixture should be smooth and satiny.
Now beat the whites with the electric mixer. Before beginning, have the 2 tablespoons of sugar standing by in a little dish so that you can add it easily as you are beating. When the whites coalesce into a mass with soft peaks, add the sugar. Beat a little more, to medium-hard peaks, and stop. DO NOT over-whip into stiff peaks, you will want the whites to blend without separating (too soft) or needed to work them in with a firm hand (too stiff).
Using a soft rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the chocolate mixture. This takes some time because you want your mousse to remain light, but you also want to avoid having bits of the whites turning up in the midst of your chocolate creation. Be careful to fold, not stir — stirring will make the mixture collapse.
When the mixture is well blended, pour into a 1-liter (1-quart) serving dish, for example a soufflé dish, or into several individual dishes (or as pictured into Champagne Coupe stemware), and refrigerate until set, at least an hour. Serves 4-6