Words by Fikir AssefaPhotography by Lil Dix
Quick easy desserts, or sweet treats that can be made with things in your cupboard, are something that I am always looking out for. I have a very sweet tooth, and am often caught out when I fancy something sweet after dinner. Equally, if I am cooking a more elaborate dinner or am otherwise pressed for time and need a pudding, these recipes are often very useful.
Ideas that I usually encounter are cold, fruit-based or a selection of pre-prepared items that are put together on a plate. While these can do the trick nicely, it is exciting to find something that is interesting, as well as quick and simple from the outset without using shortcuts. And with this, I was immediately attracted to this chocolate mousse. The recipe looks a little fussy and seems like it won’t work, but you just need to stick with it, and get passed the ‘this just looks like chocolate water’ stage.
The other major bonus with this chocolate mousse is that it requires no messing around with eggs and cream, which means it is totally vegan, and it only has two ingredients – chocolate and water. Herve This, a physical chemist who specialises in the science of food came up with a recipe for a chocolate mousse which breaks the traditional rules for working with chocolate. Chocolate and water come together to create a deeply flavoured and very luxurious pudding.
Serves three, easily scaled up. The mousse is very rich, so the portions are small.
You will need:
Whisk (You can’t cheat with an electric whisk with this one!)
Large bowl, washing up bowl, or sink with plug in.
100g dark chocolate
100ml boiling water
Up to 3 tbsp sugar
Break the chocolate into small pieces in the mixing bowl – you needn’t be too meticulous, but smaller pieces will melt easier. Fill the large bowl, washing up bowl or sink, with a few inches of very cold water from the tap.
Add the sugar and boiling water to the chocolate, leave it for about 30 seconds, and then gently mix with the whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is uniform. Use up to 1tbsp sugar if you want a dark flavoured mousse, and the full 3tbsps if you prefer your chocolate flavour to be less intense, though this will also depend on the intensity of the dark chocolate you are using.
Now place the bowl of chocolate into the cold water, and start whisking the chocolate mixture. As you whisk, air bubbles get trapped in the cooling chocolate mixture, which creates the light, smooth texture. The water stops the chocolate from solidifying, resulting in a creamy mousse. This can take up to ten minutes.
It can take a couple of goes to get the texture right, but as a guide you want to stop whisking just as you get to soft peaks, or when the mousse just holds it shape for a few seconds when the whisk is removed. If you go too far, your mousse may become grainy. If this happens, don’t worry – you can just leave it for a minute or two and then beat it for a couple of minutes. You will have a slightly looser-textured mousse.
Can be eaten immediately, spooned into small cups or ramekins, or refrigerated until ready to eat. Will keep for a day or two, but best eaten on the same day. Once you get the hang of the process, you can vary the flavours of the mousse. Here are a couple of ideas; use 50ml juice and the zest from an orange, and 50ml of boiling water, for a chocolate orange mousse; add one or two pieces of finely chopped stem ginger, a scant teaspoon of ground ginger or cinnamon to the chocolate, before adding the water, for a warmly spiced mousse; put some raspberries at the bottom of the ramekin, for a sharp, fruity contrast to the dark rich mousse.