Mousse au Chocolat pour Eric

Chocolate Mousse for Eric

I had spent the morning in Le Puy, exploring on foot the steep, narrow streets that surround the cathedral. Then I drove south along a high, narrow road that, like an anxious chaperone, never lost sight of the Loire below. Then I came to the village of Cussac and realized that I had misread the map. I sat at the wheel studying the intricacies of a Michelin Route-master when a small head appeared through the open window. ‘What are you doing?’ a child’s voice asked, in English. ‘I’m lost and I’m checking the way. Your English is very good. How old are you?’ I inquired of this young solemn face. He beamed and boasted that he’d been learning English for just one year and he was now eleven years old. Suddenly the car was surrounded by children of all ages and, seeing my English number plates, they clamoured to know why I was alone and so far from home. I explained that I was interested in French food and asked Eric, my original questioner, for the name of his favourite dish. ‘Mousse au chocolat,’ he pronounced and then, hearing his mother calling him for lunch, bade me goodbye and ran off shouting ‘Mousse au chocolat’. And as I drove away, out of the village, I started to devise a really big chocolate mousse.

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Ingredients

  • 285 g(10 oz) plain dessert chocolate
  • 18 boudoir sponge fingers
  • 2 liqueur glasses marron de l’Ardèche liqueur or brandy
  • 1 after-dinner cup strong black coffee
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 275 ml(½ pint) double cream
  • 45 g( oz) caster sugar
  • 150 ml(¼ pt) whipping cream to decorate (optional)

Method

Break the chocolate into pieces and place over hot water to melt.

Line a very lightly oiled 1.5 litre( pt) fluted brioche tin with cling-film; don’t worry if there are a few creases, it won’t matter. Cut a sponge finger to fit into each flute and arrange a neat pattern of pieces in the base.

Mix one glass of liqueur or brandy with the coffee and brush the sponge fingers with the mixture.

Remove the melted chocolate from over the hot water and beat in the egg yolks. Whisk the double cream with the remaining glass of liqueur until stiff. In another bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold in the sugar.

Now fold first the chocolate and then the egg whites into the cream. Spoon the mixture into the brioche mould and chill until set.

The mousse can be frozen if you wish.

To complete, dip the mould briefly into hot water and then, pulling at the sheet of cling-film, unmould the mousse on to a flat serving dish, preferably on a stand. Whisk the whipping cream until stiff, flavour with a little liqueur, if desired, and then spoon into a forcing bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe rosettes of cream around the base and top of the mousse. Cut into narrow wedges to serve. The mousse can be served frozen, semi-freddo or thawed but chilled.

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