As the daughter of a baker, my mum was a dab hand at biscuits and slices, she could ice a cake with a steady hand but took little pleasure from actually eating such things. Her tastes ran to savoury flavours – preferring a bowl of freshly roasted peanuts, tossed with butter and salt, to any dessert. Week night desserts usually revolved around a scoop or two of ice cream topped with homemade chocolate sauce, some canned fruit or if we were very luck it ran to the exotic addition of tinned berries, heated in a pan and thickened with arrowroot.
But the ‘60’s and 70’s were the era of the dinner party and every good wife needed a party piece. My mother’s was chocolate mousse, from an unrecorded source, set in individual parfait dishes and topped with freshly whipped cream and nuts. For a family birthday it would be set in a crystal bowl and sometimes frozen.
On my recent trip home my sister’s wish was to revive the recipe and make it with something better than the cooking chocolate we grew up with. To have a dairy free, rich and luscious dessert is now a rare treat for both of us – so how could I resist the request?
I did my best to follow the recipe to the letter but as our tastes aren’t as sweet as they were in childhood we did tweak it a little. It’s up to you whether you want to stick to the original or try this slight variation.
Shirley’s Chocolate Mousse
5 eggs – separated
180 gm dark chocolate (70% Lindt)
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract (the best quality you can afford)
1 tablespoon brandy
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a double boiler, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the hot water. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and add to the chocolate as it melts. Stir occasionally. Take the melted chocolate off the heat too cool a little then add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring well between each one. If the chocolate is too hot it may cook the eggs.
Beat eggwhites until stiff (so they are fluffy and can hold a peak).
action shot - it's at least 10 years since the old Kenwood was called upon to do it's thing. It's a huge beast but built to last.
Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and stir in the vanilla and brandy. Fold the beaten egg whites gently into the mixture. You don’t want blobs of egg white but if you over beat it you loose the lightness. Family lore is that if you put in too much alcohol the mousse won’t set.
Pour into a medium sized bowl or individual glasses (or tea cups). Chill for at least 12 hours – it’s a challenging thing to do but try to resist!
Verdict: Sorry Mum, but even without the cream and nuts, the Lindt made it better than you used to make!