I have a soft spot for chocolate mousse. It is the very first dessert that I ever attempted solo as a very young teen (with my sister, more accurately, just without parental supervision) and if I remember correctly I can still see our poor mum horrified at the almighty mess our creative endeavours had left in their wake in the kitchen. We were ever so proud and only had eyes for our first-ever lasagna and chocolate mousse (I know, such a sophisticated menu, but hey, this was the early 80s with sophisticated cuisine at its pinnacle) and I’m sure that all mum could see was the trail of pots, pans, spills and general debris of the hurricane that is two kids left to their own devices to prepare a family meal.
Fast forward a few decades and all I can say is ‘Karma’. I love it when my kids cook but I can say that I can now really sympathise with mum back then and completely get her look of horror instead of the over-the-top admiration and praise that we had been expecting. The meal, however, was a total success and I was hooked. I couldn’t believe that following a recipe could create magic, edible magic…and that the chef was the alchemist (who just had to do a bit of cleaning afterwards). I think for mum that was the best sort of magic and now as a mum myself I would have to (partly) agree.
That version, I’m sure was from some Commonsense Cookery Book or a Women’s Weekly Cookbook. There were some fabulous recipes in those tomes and I learned a lot, dipping into them as a teenager. Back then I used sugar; white, processed and definitely not organic, as well as wheat flours as well as a lot of dairy. These days, various allergies, intolerances and conditions have had me reconsider my family’s diet and revisit and adapt favourite recipes.
This is an old Femme Actuelle recipe which I fell in love with years ago when living in France, which I have ‘paleo-ised’. I have added more layers of orange to it to accentuate these notes, which I think just turn a beautiful chocolate mousse into perfection. Although the recipe calls for dark chocolate, I have also made it using a coconut ‘mylk’ chocolate, which the children actually prefer. Sometimes I make them using half dark and half ‘mylk’ chocolate. Adapt it to your own taste and preferences and ENJOY!
Ingredients (for approximately 8 ramekins)
- 250g dark chocolate ( or milk/coconut mylk or a combination of the two. I like Living Earth chocolate)
- 5 eggs, separated
- juice of 2 small oranges or equivalent juice of clementines/mandarins/tangerines
- 1 tablespoon of orange liqueur ( Grand Marnier or Cointreau) optional. I sometimes use none, sometimes double. It depends on the age of the guests.
- 2 generous tablespoons raw honey
- 50 g butter or good-quality ghee
- pinch of salt
- ground handful of dried orange zest (optional, as this requires a bit of forward planning but it heightens the orange notes) See dried orange zest for method.
- dried orange zest for decoration (sometimes I marinate strawberries in the orange liqueur and use that for decoration instead).Sometimes there’s no decoration if I’m short on time. Honestly, people don’t really mind!
- Place chocolate, butter/ghee, honey and juice in a saucepan.
- Heat this over another saucepan (at a low temperature) with a small amount of water in it (about 1/5 full), otherwise known as a bain marie.
- Allow everything to melt and mix everything together very gently, making sure it’s combined.
- Allow this mixture to cool slightly.
- Separate egg whites from yolks.
- Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until thick, white peaks form.
- Beat egg yolks gradually ( but very quickly) into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture (this needs to be cool enough for the egg not to cook!)
- If you’re using liqueur, add it now (once the mixture has cooled down) as you don’t want it evaporating (or maybe you do!)
- Gradually fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, mixing until combined.
- If using the dried orange zest powder, mix it through the chocolate mixture.
- Divide the chocolate mixture into ramekins and refrigerate for a few hours until set.
- Decorate with dried orange zest or strawberries and enjoy!
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