Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cooking 101–Egg-free Chocolate Mousse

Well, my not-so-tight pants are tight now and my fat-boy pants are quite comfortable. So, Ben and I finally started our exercise program. Yesterday I jumped on the elliptical for twenty minutes, sucking air the whole time, and today we did the Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga video workout. Whoa, are we out of shape . . . again.

But, the mousse was . . . well, I can’t even tell you how incredible it was, because I’ll sound over-the-top.

I looked on the internet after reading Julia’s recipe and found several that sounded great, but they all used egg yolks and you can’t really cook the yolks or they turn to scrambled eggs. Now, as I’ve said before, I trust our egg supply because they’re home grown, but I cannot expect everyone else to trust their egg supply. On the one cooking website that addressed that issue, they basically said that, well, you do heat up the egg yolks to 160 degrees and egg whites aren’t usually as much of a problem and, anyway, cases of salmonella aren’t all that common . . .

So, I scoured through the various recipes and devised a recipe that didn’t use any eggs. It was a gamble, but I won on this one. And I won big. This recipe is actually easier than some of the ones I researched. It is rich and it is fattening, but it is worth it.

I used chocolate chips, as some recipes used, instead of baker’s chocolate because they’re cheaper and because I know which chips are good quality and which are not and I know nothing about the quality of the various brands of baker’s chocolate. I used a mid-line price, Nestlé's semi-sweet chocolate chips, and they were great. I advise that, unless you’re feeding your mousse to children who honestly can’t tell the difference between Hershey’s and  Dove, that you don’t scrimp on the chocolate. You get what you pay for when it comes to chocolate quality. The better the quality of chocolate that goes into your mousse, the better the mousse will be.


You will need: electric mixer (or a wire whisk if you want to whip the cream by hand), medium mixing bowl, double boiler (or a bowl to melt the chocolate chips in the microwave), rubber spatula, ice water or very cold tap water (if you have a well), spoon.


Melt 8 ounces chocolate chips in the double boiler, add

4 Tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

then dribble in

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

to the chocolate mixture and stir well. The mixture should be smooth and creamy; if it is not, add a little water to it (or a little more cream, since from a pint you’ll have 1/4 cup left over, unless you made the crepe mound for your dinner). Put the pan into the ice and water or the cold water in the sink or large bowl and stir to chill the chocolate mixture. If you put hot (or even warm) chocolate mix into the whipped cream, the whipped cream will melt and flatten out and your mousse will be ruined. But do not chill too much or the chocolate will stiffen too much to fold into the whipped cream. Once the mixture is cool to the touch of your warm finger, it’s ready, but should still stir easily.  When the mixture is chilled, set it aside.

Pour 1 & 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream into the mixing bowl and add

2 Tablespoons sugar.

Whip until just past the soft peak stage and the peaks come out a little shorter than the soft peak ones. The soft peak stage is what you would normally use for topping, but just a little more keeps it whipped well when you fold in the heavy chocolate mixture. Do not over-beat your cream, though. Some recipes suggest you whip it until the stiff peak stage, but the so-called ‘stiff peak stage’ when referring to whipping cream is what you get just seconds before you’ve beaten the cream into butter. Just ask Julia.

When you fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, do it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible with a rubber spatula. Unmixed chocolate stiffens into hard bits, but over-mixing will flatten your whipped cream. All the recipes I read insisted on chilling the mousse in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and well-chilled mousse has a fine and buttery texture to be sure, but I sneaked a spoonful before I put it into the refrigerator and the texture was very good. We ate our first serving after chilling for two hours and it certainly wasn’t any sort of disappointment, though the texture was more like the classical texture of mousse the next day. And, unlike some store-purchased egg-free mousse mixtures, we ate the final servings today (two days after making it) and it was still holding its mousse texture and delightful flavor just fine.

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