One of my father’s favorite dishes is chocolate mousse. When it’s on a menu in a restaurant, he almost always has to order it. For a dish that seems so simple–it can be quite complicated to make. Working with egg whites, the whipped mass that makes mousse what it should be: light, airy, creamy, can be quite difficult if you’re not used to it. When I first attempted to make chocolate mousse, I have to admit, the original recipe I was following failed. I really don’t know where my error was… perhaps because I thought I could skip the espresso part. Maybe my whites weren’t properly whipped. Nevertheless, I wanted to be sure that my second attempt was fool-proof. So I looked to a pro: Alton Brown. Instead of relying on egg whites, the recipe cheats by including gelatin. Genius! This time around, I followed every step exactly as he explained and included every ingredient (I used really strong coffee.) The flavor was wonderful–and my father devoured every bite.
* 1 3/4 cups whipping cream
* 12 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
* 3 ounces espresso or strong coffee
* 1 tablespoon dark rum
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1 teaspoon flavorless, granulated gelatin
Chill 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in refrigerator. Chill metal mixing bowl and mixer beaters in freezer.
In top of a double boiler, combine chocolate chips, coffee, rum and butter. Melt over barely simmering water, stirring constantly. Remove from heat while a couple of chunks are still visible. Cool, stirring occasionally to just above body temperature.
Pour remaining 1/4 cup whipping cream into a metal measuring cup and sprinkle in the gelatin. Allow gelatin to “bloom” for 10 minutes. Then carefully heat by swirling the measuring cup over a low gas flame or candle. Do not boil or gelatin will be damaged. Stir mixture into the cooled chocolate and set aside.
In the chilled mixing bowl, beat cream to medium peaks. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in two doses. There may be streaks of whipped cream in the chocolate and that is fine. Do not over work the mousse.
Spoon into bowls or martini glasses and chill for at least 1 hour. Garnish with fruit and serve.
(If mousses are to be refrigerated overnight, chill for one hour and then cover each with plastic wrap)
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