Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Instant Chocolate Mousse

I love Nigella Lawson. I love her kitchen, her attitude, her lustrous hair. I own most of her cookbooks.

I also love chocolate mousse. Not the super sweet cloying kind served at hotel banquets, and certainly not white chocolate mousse. More often, I want an intense chocolate fix in a cool, creamy cup. Sure, I've made the standard Julia Child mousse, the same one my mother made. It's awesome. But it involves a lot of whipping, as well as an overnight rest.

This however, is the chocolate mousse for our times, made from simple pantry ingredients, and whips up in a flash. Not too sweet, it's a bit denser than the ultralite mousse in the finest restaurants, sure, but you can make it after work and serve it the same evening. There are no eggs, so it can be safely fed to pregnant women and others who may be concerned about food safety.

Baker's Notes: This recipe is quite forgiving. Sure, it'll taste better if you use high quality chocolate, but those semisweet chips (I love Trader Joe's) will make a delicious mousse too. A pinch of espresso powder will deepen the flavor, as would subbing rum for the vanilla. If you're really rushed, do as Nigella does and just fold the whipped cream into the hot chocolate base. I prepared it that way last month on a very hot day, as you can see in the photo at left the mousse, as expected, its a bit flatter, but was still gobbled up.

Instant Chocolate Mousse
adapted from Nigella Express
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/4 cup hot water from a recently boiled kettle 
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 9 ounces best quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces, or use chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the marshmallows, butter, water, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Heat the mixture over medium-low heat. When the marshmallows begin to melt, add the chocolate, stirring frequently. When everything is melted and smooth, remove from the heat, and scrape into a medium bowl.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the cream with the vanilla until soft peaks form.  Stir about a third of the whipped cream into the cooling chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the rest until you have a smooth, cohesive mixture.

Pour or scrape into 4 or 6 glasses or small dishes (I use 5 or 6 ramekins) and chill until you want to eat. The sooner the better!

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