Breaking the Chocolate Rules - Pure Chocolate Mousse
Lately I’ve been reading about Molecular Gastronomy, an exciting discipline where chefs with a scientific bent and/or scientists with a culinary streak analyze ingredients down to their chemical properties and reinvent amazing new recipes. Actually, it is much more than that. It is the collaboration of art and science in the kitchen. For example, the analysis of foods sharing common volatile molecules led to the unlikely but successful pairings of caramelized cauliflower with cocoa, and white chocolate with caviar. Other examples include unusual presentations, such as sherry served in the form of cotton candy, or green tea foam frozen tableside with liquid nitrogen.
To those who don’t understand the background these ideas may seem like gimmicks created by chefs to draw attention to their restaurants but these unusual dishes are actually inspired by scientific principles.
During my reading I encountered this unbelievable Chocolate Chantilly recipe by Hervé This, via Hestor Blumenthal. Made from only quality chocolate and water, it promised to create something amazing that resembles chocolate whipped cream, without any cream. What really shocked me about this recipe, aside from the fact it is made from only two ingredients (one if you don’t count water as an ingredient) is that it breaks all the rules we’ve been taught about working with chocolate.
Every cookbook I own dictates that chocolate must never be melted over direct heat, only in a double boiler to prevent burning. But this recipe uses a saucepan right on the burner. And then there is the rule that water and melted chocolate don’t mix. I have always used a folded paper towel between the pot lid and the double boiler when melting chocolate because, Lucullus forbid, should even a miniscule drop of water from the condensation on the inside of the pot lid fall into the melting chocolate it will immediately seize, ruining the chocolate. But this recipe has us mixing quite a bit of water into the chocolate!
Because of its breaking of all these chocolate rules, I was very skeptical of this recipe. But I put my trust in these molecular gastronomists (I am, after all, a geek at heart) and risked my pricy Callebaut chocolate to try it. It worked!!! It really worked!
This is pure chocolate mousse. Like mousse, its texture is smooth and airy but it has the flavor denseness of a chocolate truffle. A spoonful just melts on the tongue. As there is no cream to coat the palate and block the taste buds, the pure flavor of the chocolate shines through.
Leftovers firmed up nicely but remained fluffy which leads me to believe that this may be piped through a pastry bag when freshly made to decorate a cake or dessert and when chilled will retain its shape. It would also make a fabulous filling between cake layers, or inside a cream puff.
As you can imagine, this will taste exactly like the chocolate you use so be sure to use a chocolate you love. Also, it is critical to use a quality dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cocoa, at least 70%. I used Callebaut bittersweet with great results.Herve This’ Chocolate Chantilly
200 ml water
225 gr quality bittersweet chocolate (a scant 8 oz), chopped coarsely
Place the water and chocolate into a small heavy saucepan over medium heat to melt. Stir the chocolate in the pan until completely melted.
Have ready two bowls, one that will sit inside the other. Into the bigger bowl, put some ice and a little water, and place in it the smaller bowl. Pour the melted chocolate into the smaller bowl and whisk over ice - the mixture will gradually thicken and take on the appearance of whipped cream, at which point it is ready to serve.
I used a hand-held electric mixer with a whisk attachment and it took 3 minutes.Be careful not to over whip it, but if you do simply put it back into the pan and start again.Tags: chocolate mousse
, molecular gastronomy
, Herve This