Thursday, September 17, 2015

Genius Chocolate Mousse for Kitchen Fiddler's Birthday

Oh hiiii….

I began this blog seven years ago today and I’m feeling a little sentimental. Though it’s been a while since I’ve spent time here, I felt compelled to come say happy birthday to Kitchen Fiddler today. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to make chocolate mousse this morning, for what better way to celebrate a birthday than with chocolate?!

When I started Kitchen Fiddler seven years ago, I was in a dark period of deep soul-searching, but blogging here provided temporary relief from my doldrums. Since cooking and sharing treasured recipes with friends had always been vitally important to me throughout my life, I was truly happiest during that difficult chapter whenever I wrote here, momentarily recapturing some semblance of joy that was otherwise eluding me. I am forever grateful for the outlet that writing this blog provided seven years ago.

Fortunately, we all have the possibility to change and grow. The dark seasons are not permanent, and life has gone in fascinating and unexpected directions since beginning this site on 9/17/08.  I couldn’t have anticipated this wonderful crazy adventure, not in my wildest dreams.  There have been marathon solo recitals and exciting concert tours as well as countless evenings sharing vibrant food over delicious conversations with beloved friends. My Not-So-Little Chef is now in high school (!), and I’ve handcrafted a ridiculous number of CocoaRoar truffles in my beautifully redesigned kitchen.

Lately I’ve been quiet here, having spent this year cooking quite simply while focusing on improving my overall health and getting in touch with my inner athlete. My cooking has mostly been functional rather than experimental, with many old standbys in heavy rotation.  I’ve been very vegetable-centric alongside quick protein sources, such as seasonal variations on my favorite sliced spring salad or this kale salad topped with a poached egg or two.

But sometimes you really need chocolate.

This chocolate mousse recipe comes from Genius Recipes, and I totally understand its inclusion in a book with such a title. You cannot believe how easily these two ingredients—chocolate and water—are transformed into a rich dessert that happens to be gluten-free and dairy-free. But of course you are encouraged to top your chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream.  We’re celebrating after all, right? Happy birthday, Kitchen Fiddler!

Six years ago: Dutch Baby Pancakes

From Hervé This in Food 52: Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore

How can you make chocolate mousse without whipped egg whites or cream to lighten it and give it its texture?? By melting chocolate with water and whipping it over an ice bath, you create a creamy emulsion that thickens and stabilizes as you whisk air bubbles into it.

This is an unadulterated chocolate experience, with no egg or cream to interfere with the purity of the chocolate. Of course you can flavor it by replacing some of the water with equal amounts of liqueur or other flavored liquid. I’ve had good success with 2 tablespoons of crème de cassis or kirsch, though you could use any flavored liqueur you like alongside your chocolate. I think Grand Marnier or Amaretto would be delightful, and next time I will try a version using brewed Earl Grey tea in place of some of the water.

Ice cubes
¾ cup water (see headnote above for liqueur flavoring options)
8 ounces (225 grams) high-quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces (I love Valrhona chocolate in the 64% to  70% cacao range, depending on what I have)
Whipped cream, for garnishing (optional)
Additional grated chocolate, for garnishing  (optional)

Partly fill a large bowl with ice cubes and set aside while you prepare the chocolate mixture.

Pour the water (and liqueur, if using) into a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the chocolate pieces and whisk it with a large balloon whisk as it melts.

When the mixture has melted into a homogenous sauce, transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Immediately set this inside the large ice-filled bowl and vigorously whisk the chocolate sauce, either manually or with an electric mixer.  (If using an electric mixer, it will thicken faster so watch carefully.) When strands of chocolate form inside the whisk, immediately spoon the mixture into small ramekins or bowls and let set.

Troubleshooting notes:
+ If your chocolate doesn’t contain enough fat to form a mousse, melt the mixture again, add a little more chocolate and whisk again.
+ If the mousse is not light enough, melt the mixture again, add a little more water and whisk again.
+ If you over-whip it and it becomes grainy, melt the mixture and whisk again, with no additions needed.

Serve the mousse immediately or refrigerate until serving.  Top with whipped cream and additional grated chocolate shavings, if desired.  Makes 4 rich servings.