What is the best thing to have for dessert? Chocolate. What is one of the most decadent ways you can enjoy chocolate? Mousse. It seems like most people reserve mousse for restaurants (or they buy those horrifying packets that just require you to add milk and have a whole ton of unnatural ingredients in them, ick). Well let me tell you what….mousse is really easy to make. It’s a lot of whisking, and a lot of bowls, but it’s not that hard. The key to good chocolate mousse is high quality chocolate and fresh eggs. My particular favorite kind of chocolate is Scharffen Berger, in this recipe I used their dark chocolate baking chunks. It is a bit of a splurge but the flavor is amazing. When I don’t feel like making the trip to Whole Foods to get Scharffen Berger, I use Ghirardelli, which is also wonderful chocolate. Try to buy fresh eggs for mousse because the fresher the eggs, the smoother your mousse will be. I used farm fresh eggs because that’s what I had, but whatever kind of eggs you buy is fine. I am not afraid of raw eggs…but for those of you who are you can buy pasteurized eggs or you can pasteurize them yourself (I’ll explain this process at the end).
So let’s talk about this olive oil thing. I am completely enamored of the chocolate-olive oil combination, it is amazing. The olive oil in this mousse lightens the density of the chocolate mousse just slightly, and adds a wonderful lingering fruity flavor at the end of each bite. You want to use a “finishing quality” olive oil as you will really be tasting the flavor of the olive oil in this dessert. I like to use a Spanish olive oil, or an northern California olive oil since these varieties tend to have a more fruity finish to them. I know to some of you this may seem like a odd flavor combination, but I assure you…it is to die for.
So lets get down to the basics.
7 oz chocolate
3.5 oz olive oil
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar, divided
7 oz heavy whipping cream
You will need a total of 3 to 4 bowls, depending on what method you use to melt the chocolate. Reserve the largest bowl for the whipped cream and make sure the one you whip the egg whites in is either metal or glass (see note at the bottom).
Start by melting the chocolate in a double boiler (my favorite method is a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water). When the chocolate is melted smoothly, add the olive oil and mix to combine. See that beautiful sheen the olive oil gives the chocolate? Go ahead try a little bit, and tell me it’s not delicious! Set aside to cool.
Next, whip the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Whip until creamy and pale and when you pull out the whisk beater(s) it will drizzle back into the bowl, showing visible ribbons that take a moment to dissolve into the mixture. This is referred to as ribbon stage. Set this bowl aside.
In a metal or glass bowl, whisk the egg whites with the last 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form (stiff peaks mean when you pull out the beater(s) the peaks will stand straight up and not fall). Set this bowl aside.
In the last and largest bowl, mix the whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. I suggest using the largest bowl for this because as you fold each layer together, this will be the bowl that holds the final result.
Make sure the chocolate/olive oil mixture is cool to the touch and then fold it into the egg yolk/sugar mixture.
Once that is combined, fold that mixture into the egg white mixture. Then fold that into the whipped cream. Use a curved spatula (aka a spoonula) to fold all the mixtures together, gently sliding your spatula around the edges of the bowl. The idea is to keep all the air you whipped in, in. This is what gives the mousse that airy texture.
Divide the mixture evenly into 4-6 serving containers. I used tea cups because it was the appropriate size, and it looked beautiful! You could use ramekins, martini glasses, anything really.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap, not letting the wrap touch the top of the mousse. Chill for at least 4 hours to set.
A few notes:
1. The reason you must use a metal or glass bowl when you whip egg whites is because plastic bowls can be porous. Egg whites will not come to peaks if they come into any contact with fat. Plastic bowls sometimes hold a small amount of residual fat in those pores, and even the smallest amount can ruin a batch of egg whites. This also means if you somehow pierce an egg yolk and get even a drop into the egg whites, they probably wont whip to peaks. So the lesson is, make sure you use a very clean metal or glass bowl to get the best whipped egg whites.
2. To pasteurize egg whites, you will need to heat them to 160 degrees. To do this, place the metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk constantly until a thermometer reads 160 degrees. They will most likely be at peaks during this whisking stage, but once they have reached temperature, pull them off the heat and continue to whisk until they have reached the desired peaks.
3. Now tell me you don’t think chocolate and olive oil is a great combination. For those who really love the savory sweet combination (like me) you could also sprinkle the top with just a touch of sea salt.