Pumpkin Swirl Dark Chocolate Mousse

October has had it’s own lovely messages telling us the autumn season is in full swing. October shows us wonderful changes everywhere—not just in the trees and not just colorful hues. Sometimes October shows us fluffiness!

FLUFFY PLANT

Around here, October shows us floatiness, too! Being outside in the crisp fall air is conducive to dropping in and saying “Hello” to folks!

BALLOON UP CLOSE 2

October brings us orange things too.

BITTERSWEETPAINT

And Halloweeny things.

HALLOWEEN TREES

And harvesty things.

free_plenty_of_pumpkins_wallpaper-426951-1286854509

You see where I’m going here? These are just the inspiration I need for October edition of Mousse!

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE SWIRL MOUSSE

Pumpkin Swirl Dark Chocolate Mousse – Serves 8

This is incredibly simple to make! Start off with a batch of tofu-based dark chocolate mousse:

  • 12 ounces silken tofu
  • 2/3 cup 100% cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or more, as needed, for desired thickness

Blend it all up and put it in the refrigerator in a covered container. Then blend up the pumpkin part.

  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 12 ounces silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour

Watch those spices! They can easily be too much. Taste and adjust and be sure to refrigerate this mousse for at least half an hour in a covered container. You will find that the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices need some time to blend themselves in and become “one” with the mousse. Then you can play with the two mousses any way you want!

Results:  I liked the pumpkin mousse but only after it sat overnight in the refrigerator, When it was just freshly made, the spices overwhelmed the pumpkin flavor.

Hubbin’ — not feeling the pumpkin love.

Neither of us liked our first serving which had about equal amounts of dark chocolate and pumpkin.

I put the next serving together with a little dark chocolate mousse in the bottom of the dish, then the pumpkin and then a small swirl of the chocolate on top. Much better! I decided on a garnish of chopped roasted, salted pistachio nuts. Skin them so you get the green color.

At this rate, my pumpkin will be gone before the dark chocolate mousse is used up, That’ll be just fine for my Hubbin’! In fact, I’d be very happy with just the pumpkin mousse which is far lighter.

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Coconut Banana Chocolate Mousse Pie

This month I am stepping out with my dark chocolate mousse madness!  I have tried nearly every basic chocolate mousse recipe (I still have one more up my sleeve) and now I’m going to use what I’ve learned to incorporate dark chocolate mousse into some more desserts —-  All Vegan and No Sugar.

To start off, I’m going to take July’s avocado-based mousse and change it up a bit. That mousse was very good but not very sweet and though I did put it into a pie crust, it really begged for a sweeter, more complex crust so here it is!

BANANA COCONUT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE 001

Coconut Banana Chocolate Mousse Pie

Make the crust

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 4 tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • stevia powder to taste (about a 1 teaspoon if you’re using something like Truvia.)

This crust could be done with just ground nuts and dried fruit plus the cinnamon and seasonings.  A mixture like that can be put into a food processor and then pressed into the pie plate to make a no-bake pie crust.

Pulse the nuts in your food processor until they are finely ground up but not so much that they turn into a nut butter. Add the dried raisins next. Any dried fruit could be used here. Pulse the raisins or bits of other dried fruit with  the stevia, salt and cinnamon and when it glops up, stop. Pour this glop into a bowl and add the almond flour. Blend the almond milk and the shredded coconut together and mix that in also. Once the mixture is pressed into place in the pie plate, bake it at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes to get excess moisture out of the crust.  When done, the hot crust will not be totally hard or crispy.

This method yields a different texture of crust that is slightly chewy.  Cool the crust completely on a rack if you have one. You want to cool the crust without putting it into the refrigerator.

Make the banana dark chocolate mousse filling

  • pulp from two avocados
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 100% cacao powder
  • pinch of salt
  • a few drops of liquid stevia (optional)
  • coconut milk as needed to get the desired texture and density

Put everything into a food processor or blender and puree it until it is thick and smooth. What you may run into with this is that the cacao powder makes the mixture very thick and possibly too dense to blend it well. That is why you’ll want some coconut milk or other non-dairy liquid to loosen the mousse up enough to blend it. I probably added about 1/4 cup—a little at a time—but I don’t measure. I also used a spatula to help keep the mixture moving in the processor.

Pour the mousse into the pie crust and spread it evenly. Lick the spatula and sprinkle some extra coconut flakes on top of the pie.

This version of the avocado-based mousse was a little sweeter than the last because of the banana and the combination of the crust with the mousse was much more satisfying than the one I made in July!

Time Flies When You’re Having Mousse

I can’t believe how fast time flies when your having mousse! It was only last December when I was dreaming and scheming to make a different dark chocolate mousse every month and now I’m about to show you my seventh mousse—for July.

I have been thinking about what kind of mousse recipe I’ll get into. I’ve already tried strictly traditional French a la Julia Child, mousse with egg whites but no yolks, mousse with yolks and whites, mousse with cream, mousse with butter, mousse with sugar, mousse with dates, mousse with cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate.  I thought I’d covered the gamut of basic mousse recipes until my friend reminded me of one more . .

Mousse made with avocado!

Moose (1998) Alaska Office of Economic Development
He’s a nice chocolate color for a big ol’ Guacamoussie, isn’t he? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vegan Dark Chocolate Chili Mousse Pie

  • Three ripe but firm organic avocados
  • 1/2 cup of brown rice syrup
  • 6 drops of liquid stevia
  • 1 cup of 100% pure cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pure dark chili powder
  • Couple pinches of salt
  • Almond or your fave non-dairy milk as needed to adjust the density
  • Baked and cooled pie crust of your choice
  • Garnish of choice

Puree it all up, taste and adjust, pour it into the finished crust and chill.

But before you do, keep reading—Especially if you’re a sweet freak!!

As you probably realized a long time ago, this is not one of those gorgeously perfect, look-what-you-can-do-if-try-to-be-like-me food blogs.  My style could be described as down-home realism. Why just look at that crust (which was incredibly flaky---my best ever) and "someone pinched off a few pieces of it before the photo was taken!
As you probably realized a long time ago, this is not one of those gorgeously perfect, look-what-you-can-do-if-try-to-be-like-me food blogs. My style could be described as down-home realism. Why just look at that crust (which was incredibly flaky—my best ever) and you’ll see that “someone” pinched off a few pieces of it before the photo was taken! The garnish is a sprinkle of granulated coconut “sugar.”

The results?  

An avocado base for this mousse is by far the richest tasting of any mousses I’ve made so far. We loved the texture, the richness and were pleased that the mousse didn’t actually taste like avocados!  Also the dark red chili powder was just the right amount—you could taste the hint of chili but it didn’t overwhelm the mousse and it enhanced the flavor of the chocolate in a very unique way. Not particularly a light mousse, though.

This was also an extremely chocolatey mousse, especially compared to the date-based ones I made for May and June.  It had a truly dark chocolate taste.  But it was not sweet! At first I was not even going to share this recipe because of that. But me and my Hubbin’, well, we weren’t going to ignore a dark chocolate chili mousse pie just sitting there waiting to be eaten!

We both said the same thing about it—“It’s not sweet at all but the taste really grows on you!”

This mousse, though not sweet, was not the least bit bitter. I liked it a great deal just the way it is because, frankly, I do not need things to be extremely sweet.

If you really do love sweets, you could make this sweet with honey, maple syrup or something else.  But I don’t use much honey and I think maple syrup would not be a compatible taste. I also don’t use agave as it reacts in your body just like high fructose corn syrup.

What to do?

I had several ideas that I will be trying and maybe we’ll re-visit this mousse pie down the road when I’ve experimented.  One thought was to use a sweet crust such as a pressed date-nut kind of crust. That would probably be very good!

Another idea—and this will rock your dessert boat—is to make this mousse into a savory non-dessert mousse.  That really intrigues me and that was my first idea when I tried the mousse before it was even in the pie crust.  I’m going to have to do some sniffing and tasting—aromatherapy if you will—to see what savory herbs will combine with this mousse.  And then I can imagine serving it in an individual little crust, perhaps made with filo dough, along with a dark green salad such as arugala. Why not? I made a savory dark chocolate sauce for beets, didn’t I?

I’m liking that idea!!  I’m going to work on this and I’ll get back to you in August when it’s dark chocolate mousse time once again. In the meantime, I think I’ll try my dark chocolate chili mousse for second breakfast . . .

Cha Cha Chai! June’s Inspired Dark Chocolate Mousse

Let’s get back to cooking, shall we?

I’ve been lovin’ me some Chai tea for the past few months. I found Bhakti Chai concentrate that is completely unsweetened which tastes very good—especially very gingery—that I can sweeten with whole grain syrup or steevia. I add water and drink it hot or I put it on ice and drink it cold. It doesn’t need milk at all. I don’t drink milk anyway but if you wanted something milky in it, almond milk or coconut milk would work well.

I sure do love that fresh ginger, and was inspired to try a combination of gingery chai spices with dark chocolate mousse using my own home-brewed chai.

I started looking for recipes and found which spices are mainly used:  ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, fennel or anise seeds, vanilla bean pods. One recipe included bay leaves.  Various combinations of these spices can be brewed into black tea.

One tip that I liked was to put the loose tea or tea bag into cold water and bring it to a boil rather than adding boiling water to it.  This definitely affects the taste of the tea and I like it!

My Home-brewed Chai Concentrate

  • 5 large ginger slices
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds (or fennel seeds)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 cups cold spring water
(Clockwise from the left) ginger slices, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, anise seeds, cloves and cardamom pods.
(Clockwise from the left) ginger slices, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, anise seeds, cloves and cardamom pods.

Put all the spices into a pan with cold spring water and bring up the heat. Simmer the spices in the water for 5 minutes and steep for 10 minutes.  This is a very concentrated mixture and does not have any tea in it. Strain the chai mix.

If you want to use these spices for chai tea, you can use these quantities of spice with 6 cups of water plus 6 teaspoons of loose tea.  Bring cold water and Darjeeling tea leaves to a boil and simmer 3-5 minutes. Add almond or coconut milk and sweetener of choice. Adjust quantities for a smaller amount of tea or lighter spice.

The trick to this month’s chocolate mousse will be adding the chai flavors into the mousse without making the mousse too liquidy. Mousse wants to be very thick and rich and creamy and so it doesn’t have liquid ingredients like tea.

I adapted May’s Mousse recipe which came from Christina Cooks website and is 100% vegan and has no refined sugar in it. It is sweetened with dates and in order to blend up my dates, I do use a little bit of liquid, which is where my home-brewed concentrated chai comes in.  I want the chai flavor to come through without overwhelming it with the cocoa.

 Cha Cha Chai Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • strained chai concentrate
  • 14 ounces firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup 100% cocoa powder

If your dates are a bit dry, chop them and put the chai liquid into a cup with the date pieces to soften them. This will help you puree those dates.  I find that pureeing the dates does require some liquid. Start with about a half cup of the chai concentrate and puree the dates. Add more concentrate as needed.  Add the tofu, vanilla extract and cocoa. Blend it nice and smooth!

As you can see, I used firm tofu instead of silken. It has a little more body and still blends up very nicely. No need to put any other sweetener in this.

My results were interesting! The date, chai, tofu and vanilla puree tasted really good without the chocolate and definitely had the chai taste. You might want to tweak this with a bit more ginger and a little stevia and serve it as is.

With the cocoa added, I didn’t get a strong independent chai taste but I could definitely say the chai flavorings uplifted the chocolate and contributed wonderful undertones of chai spices. I liked it very much and in fact, I liked it much better than the May Mousse recipe.  The chai concentrate definitely toned down the date flavor some which I liked.

Another thing to try would be the date/chai/tofu/vanilla puree with a bit of coconut milk and just a hint of chocolate for a light milk chocolate chai dessert. This appeals to me!

I decorated with finely minced dried candied ginger. Yes, I'm a "cheatah" here because this does have a little sugar in it! But it looks really great in the photo doesn't it? (My justification.)
I decorated with finely minced dried candied ginger. Yes, I’m a “cheatah” here because this does have a little sugar in it! But it looks really great in the photo doesn’t it? (My justification.)

A Date With Chocolate

You might have noticed I missed the April entry of my Dark Chocolate Mousse quest. I was such a FOOL! (An April one, that is) April came and went so fast. (excuse #1) And I was debating if I really wanted to include any more sugar and dairy laden mousses on my blog. (excuse #2) And besides that I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to lay any more eggs into my desserts. (excuse #3) Not to mention April only has 30 days so I was gypped! (excuse #4) And I got freaked out thinking I still had a lot of months to go on this mousse quest thing and wanted to be more inspired before I posted another one. (excuse #5)

You know, when I started this whole mousse thing I truly had never made such a dessert before from scratch and because I think dark chocolate mousse is so, so very delicious, I assumed it was also complex.  But it really is not complicated at all. It takes more time to clean up the pots, pans, bowls and spoons from making mousse than it does to construct it. (And of course, it takes no time at all to inhale eat the mousse.)

But then spring fever hit me! The sultry perfume of the Russian olive trees wafting through the air, the emergence of flowers, leaves on trees, the warm breezes in the afternoon and the sharp smell of a light sprinkle of rain on an otherwise dry New Mexico day.

Love and romance are calling my name. So I made a date with chocolate

No really! Chocolate Mousse with dates as the sweetener. And tofu. You can’t get more veganiciously romantic than that! And guess what? This is by far the simplest and fastest mousse yet! And as a bonus–there will be hardly anything to wash afterwards!

The only caveat will be . . . . How will it taste?  I mean, this is a pretty dramatically different mousse recipie—tofu as a base and dates as the sweetener!

I went to a favorite standby website for the recipe, Christina Cooks.com, for her incredibly simple recipe. There are just four ingredients: silken tofu, 100% cocoa powder, medjool dates and pure vanilla extract—plus I added a little cinnamon.  You blend it all up and you’ve got yourself a dreamy, creamy chocolate mousse and only one blender or food processor to wash!

Mine came out way too thick at first and I added more tofu to get the right consistency. I would suggest having an extra container of silken tofu around just in case. When I added the extra tofu, everything blended up nicely. However the extra tofu reduced the proportion of cocoa and the outcome was a little less chocolatey than usual. I’m going to have to work on that adjustment.

I decked our mousse out with some raspberries and lit a romantic, naturally scented candle.  Ooooo La La! A Date with Chocolate!

A candlelit date with - sigh - chocolate! How romantical can you get?

A candlelit date with – sigh – chocolate! How romantical can you get?

March Mousse Madness

Deep, rich chocolate indulgence.

Deep, rich chocolate indulgence.

This month’s dark chocolate mousse experience took me and my husband by surprise, I must say!  March’s Mousse is the most creamy, rich and yet light mousse yet. It was so rich and chocolatey that the three servings I made could have easily served six. You just don’t need a regular-sized serving of this dessert!

My original idea for March’s entry in the dark chocolate mousse quest was to come up with a St. Patrick’s Day themed mousse. But the actual mousse making didn’t happen until later Sunday evening so let’s just say March’s mousse celebrates the Irish in all of us no matter what day it is.

As you may remember from my original resolution to make one dark chocolate mousse a month in 2013, I am by no means an experienced mousse maker and until I made Miss January Dark Chocolate Mousse, I had never fiddled with melting bittersweet chocolate over a bain marie. We ended up with a very thick and luscious mousse based on the French standard recipe from Julia Child.

February’s mousse was quite different (and far less sinful) using only bittersweet chocolate and whipped egg whites. That one was delicious too!

But this. Oooh La La! Be warned—this is far more chocolatey, far more  rich and as indulgent as all get out what with the butter and a little organic, unrefined cane sugar. Not to mention the Guinness Stout and the very dark unsweetened chocolate syrup featuring Baily’s Irish Creme. (That’s the little bit of Irish.)

I must say we couldn’t really detect the Guiness Stout at all but the dark chocolate sauce with Baily’s did retain a great deal of flavor and was to die for!

We went all the way with this one and added real whipped cream to show off the sauce in the photo but you really don’t need it. This mousse looks so dark and rich yet it litterally disappears in your mouth on contact, leaving you with the sensation of deep, dark chocolate and creamy richness.

For the basic recipe, I turned to the Guinness Storehouse website straight from Dublin. If you look at this website, you’ll see beer glasses filled with this mousse. Now that I’ve tried the mousse, I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams eating this much of the stuff in one serving. I do believe that would officially count as one of the thirty ways to experience death by chocolate!

I cut the original recipe in half like this:

  • 175 grams 73% dark chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 5 egg whites
  • 50 g organic, unrefined cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup Guinness Extra Stout

Again, this would actually make 6 servings.

1. Dissolve the sugar in the Guinness Stout. I did it this way because the sugar I used is very unrefined and I wanted it well-dissolved. (A lesson I learned from making January’s mousse.)

2. Beat the egg yolks until they are lighter and thicker. Incorporate the Guinness with the disolved sugar and beat until it is ribbony.

3. In a separate, dry and very clean bowl (I like a stainless steel bowl) whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Do not over-whip them. Kudos to my husband who did an excellent job of this!

4. Melt grated or broken bits of chocolate with the butter by putting a heat-proof bowl or small pan over another pan of simmering water. Do not let the simmering water touch the bottom of the pan with the chocolate. Stir, stir, stir until you have creamy, shiny melted chocolate.

5. When the chocolate is melted, let it cool slightly. Keep stirring to maintain smoothness. Then incorporate the chocolate into the yolk mixture starting with a little and then the rest of the chocolate. Mix this gently together.

6. Fold in your soft-peaked egg whites.

Now you can put your mousse into whatever kind of dish or glass you want to serve it in and chill it. We chilled ours for only about a half hour and couldn’t wait any longer to taste it.

For the chocolate sauce, I mixed about 1/4 cup of 100% pure cocoa powder into about a half cup of Baily’s Irish cream and stirred it over the hot water, just like the other chocolate. At first it looked kind of grainy and ucky, but then it smoothed out to a wonderful, very dark sauce. Continue to stir and let it heat and thicken. This also helps to cook off the alcohol in the Irish Creme.

I made real whipped cream by whipping heavy cream with stevia and a dash of vanilla, but like I said—you don’t need it except for the fact it really looks nice.

Serve the mousse with whipped cream and dark chocolate Irish creme sauce drizzled over the top. It’s chocolate heaven! You’ll believe you found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Savory Chocolate Insouciance

Frankenfood for the Rich and Fabulous

It’s been “Beet Week” around here at My Cooking Life and it’s coming to a close. That’s because I bought exactly three beets and made a commitment to try them three different ways despite the fact that I have never ever liked beets before.

I invited the always entertaining Tom Hanks to come over and coach me, I’m sure I kept you spellbound with the harrowing beet enforcement incident of my childhood, and we tuned in the unforgetable comedy and musical talent of Weird Al and Michael Jackson. I even risked eating raw beet salad and ventured into creating my own gourmet roasted beet salad.

But now it’s time to get totally un-serious.

What is the one ingredient that makes everything else taste much better? The one that changes our outlook on life and gives us the spiritual boost we need? What is the one thing that can and does make eating nearly any food a sensual, delectible experience?

It’s chocolate of course! And after all, it makes total sense that I would come up with a chocolate-themed beet recipe, does it not?

I created this recipe the way I do most of mine—I thought it up and then went to the kitchen and made it. I felt quite “saucy” doing this and hence the name of the dish!

Steamed Beets with Savory Chocolate Insouciance for Two

  • One or two beets 
  • Vegetable steamer
  • 1/4 cup aged dark balsamic vinegar (I used expresso flavored balsamic but you could add a shot of strong espresso to well-aged dark balsamic.
  • 1Teaspoon barley malt
  • 2 Teaspoons 100% pure cocoa powder
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Scallion garnish

Wash the beets and remove any little roots. Slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Steam the beets until they are as tender as you want them. I steamed mine for 20 minutes in a bamboo steamer

This wonderful bamboo steamer has a lid, of course, except when I'm taking a picture of the contents!

This wonderful bamboo steamer has a lid, of course, except when I’m taking a picture of the contents!

In a small sauce pan, combine the balsamic vinegar, espresso, barley malt, cocoa powder and salt.  When the beets were done steaming I removed them and put my pan over the steam heat. I heated the sauce until it was well combined and heated but not boiling (chocolate does not taste good burned or over-cooked!) The sauce will thicken as you stir. Add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper.

Serve the steamed beets with this lovely sauce over it.

Yes! When in doubt, add chocolate! Even beets taste okay with Savory Chocolate Insoucience! I finished the beets on my plate and then ate all the sauce from the plate and the sauce pan.

A hint of cayenne makes the sauce extra-insouciant.

A hint of cayenne makes the sauce extra-insouciant.

And for those of you who truly like beets even if they don’t have chocolate all over them, here’s a great blog about beets Italian style that I’m adding here: Jovina Cooks Italian

Sunday Stroll Through the Bosque and February’s Dark Chocolate Mousse

Here in New Mexico we had our first really sunny, warm weekend of the year. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an early spring, but my oh my! Today was a teaser!

The family decided to take a stroll through the bosque (pronunciation here) at Rio Grande State Park. When I first arrived in New Mexico I had no idea what a bosque was. “Bosque” is derived from the Spanish word for “woodlands.” It is defined as the areas of forest and clumps of trees found along the flood plains of a stream or river bank in the southwestern United States.

We walked along the river. At first the trees and grasses on the bosque seem dry, drab and lifeless–not ready to emerge for spring yet. But on closer look I was amazed at the color and beauty I could find.

Click on the images to get the full impact of color!

Geese on the Rio

Geese on the Rio

Mistress Moon accompanied the bright Sun.

Mistress Moon accompanied the bright Sun.

Golden grasses

Golden grasses

The gnarly trees said, "Hello!"

The gnarly trees said, “Hello!”

Shadow-kissing on a lazy Sunday at the bosque.

Shadow-kissing on a lazy Sunday at the bosque.

Hungry from our wanderings, we had an early supper. I decided now is the time for a quick and easy Dark Chocolate Mousse for February.

Renegade cook that I am, with only one mousse under my belt so far this year, I decided to create my own adaptation combining several ideas I had found. While January’s mousse was very rich and thick, my February mousse was very light yet very chocolaty!

This mousse literally took only about 10 minutes to make.

Easy to Make, Easy on the Waistline Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 4 egg whites
  • 130 grams 70% dark chocolate pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • Strawberries and black raspberries (or any available berries)

Beat the egg whites in a very clean, dry bowl until they make stiff peaks. You can test if they’re beaten enough by turning the bowl upside down and finding they don’t fall out. This is a courageous thing to do if you’re not sure you’ve beaten the egg whites enough but I know you can handle it.

Put a bowl or pan over a pot of simmering water. Don’t let the top bowl/pan touch the water below. Chocolate doesn’t like to be treated harshly. Put your chocolate pieces in the upper bowl and stir as it melts. It will become really smooth and shiny when it’s done and it will be stinky and ruined if you burn it so don’t run off do to something else while your chocolate melts.

Remove the melted chocolate and let it cool down a little so that when you add it to your egg whites the whites don’t curdle. Just add a little chocolate into the whites and fold them in. Let the egg white and chocolate get used to each other before you put all the chocolate in. Folding is easy to do with a spatula. Cut down the center of the whites with the edge of the spatula and fold the mixture over. Turn the bowl and repeat. You want to keep the air in the beaten egg whites as much as possible.

When the chocolate and egg whites are combined, add some cinnamon. You won’t taste cinnamon, but it will brighten the chocolate flavor. Add the orange liqueur and you’re ready to assemble a lovely dessert.

I chilled my glasses for this and put black raspberries and strawberry halves in the bottom. In went the mousse and then more berries on top.

Voila! A very chocolaty flavor in a very light mousse. No added sugar, no cream, no butter, no egg yolks. It was delicious and it is already gone!

Chocolate goodness without the guilt

Chocolate goodness without the guilt

A beautiful end to a beautiful day!

A beautiful end to a beautiful day!

Seize the Chocolate!

My 2013 venture into Dark Chocolate Mousse has already taught me a few things! For instance, I had been wondering whether the texture of my first mousse, after it was chilled, was meant to be so firm.

In my search for future recipes, I came across the term “seize.”

I shouted, “Seize the Chocolate!” (Or in Latin thanks to Google Translate, “Carpe Socolate!) ” My definition: “Seize” is what one does immediately after it is cool enough to eat.

Or perhaps this is something the Red Queen said at Easter when she spied a chocolate bunny.  She said, “Seize the Chocolate and bite off his head!”

(Photo credit: http://www.candyblog.net)

(Photo credit: http://www.candyblog.net)

No, that can’t be what they mean. Honestly, I had not heard “seize” used like this before and didn’t know what it meant as a cooking term. Hmmm . . . maybe I ought to know since it seems to be about chocolate.

Here’s what I found on www.recipetips.com:

As a culinary term, it refers to chocolate that becomes a stiff thick mass when being melted. It is a result of just a tiny amount of liquid or steam coming in contact with the chocolate when it is being melted, causing it to harden and become clumpy. The seized chocolate can be salvaged by adding a very small amount of cocoa butter, clarified butter or vegetable oil and stirring until the stiff mass smooths out. Do not add more than one tablespoon of the butters or oil per six ounces of chocolate. If the salvaged chocolate is going to be combined with other ingredients, realize that the texture of the finished product may be affected.
On another site, dinnerwithjulie.com, I read:

If the mixture starts to seize or break down, immediately stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of the whipped cream to smooth out the mixture.

I had a feeling that seizing chocolate was undesirable. I don’t recall if my dark chocolate came in contact with any steam or water, but you can be sure future melted chocolate will be protected from seizing at all costs!

This is a very handy tip, don’t you think? What is your advice on cooking with chocolate? (I need all the help I can get!)

And here’s another question:  If your chocolate seizes, do you say it had a seizure?

Classic French: January’s Dark Chocolate Mousse

It’s time to try my very first dark chocolate mousse recipe ever!

I gave a lot of thought to how I would start my monthly mousse adventure in which I will try a different dark chocolate mousse recipe each month during 2013.  Do I want to start off with a vegan recipe or some kind of alternative ingredients?  Start with whatever looks the simplest and later get into something more complex?  Try to invent the recipe right off the bat? If not, then whose recipe do I use?

I started my search and found a handful of “to die for” dark chocolate mousse recipes and chose to begin with a classic recipe as rendered by one of the most famous french cooking teachers of all time–Julia Child!

No one would be better to learn from–she a Paris-trained chef who wanted to help American women learn the art of french cooking–teaching me, a neophyte mousse maker venturing into the deep end of desserts.  I got the idea while doing a Google search for recipes and came across a David Lebovitz adaptation from Julia’s famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I was all set to use this adaptation but decided to get the recipe from the source herself.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

After looking at several likely cookbook teachers (Betty Kettlebottom Crocker, Mark Bittman, the editor of Cook’s Illustrated, Rachael Ray and others) I decided that Julia’s Chocolate Mousse recipe will set an excellent standard for comparison with others I will make for the rest of the series. In fact, I was so impressed with this book and the way it instructs, I bought it.

She states:

Among all the recipes for chocolate mousse this is one of the best, we think;

I shopped for all my ingredients and I embarked upon my first ever Dark Chocolate Mousse!

This mousse consists of semi-sweet dark chocolate, sugar, egg yolks, unsalted butter, a couple spoonfuls of strong coffee and orange liqueur. That’s it! I did alter the recipe a bit by substituting organic, unrefined cane sugar in place of the extra fine white sugar called for. This is still sugar–there’s no way to deny that–but at least it is less refined and retains some of its minerals. (I will definitely get into sugar-free versions later in the series.)

The instructions in this book were so easy to follow! Once I had all the ingredients ready, such as the butter softened and the chocolate weighed out, it only took my husband and me about 20 minutes to make this mousse.

The first step says:

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon.

That turned out to be a perfect description of how this first mixture would look. We used a handheld electric mixer but you can also use a wire whisk. We continued beating this yolk mixture after moving it to the stove and putting the bowl over a pot of not-quite-simmering water. Then it was off the stove and putting the yellow mixture over a bowl of ice water until the mixture cooled again and we achieved the desired “ribbons.”

“How did they figure out all these steps?” my husband asked.

“Just three women playing around with eggs and things,” I said.

Next we melted the chocolate and beat the butter into it. This is when I really understood that this dessert should be served in pettite portions.  Thank goodness we already cut the recipe in half! No use tempting ourselves with five cups of butter, sugar and chocolate at one time!

Freshly made, this dessert was very smooth and mousse-like. Excellent for a first attempt! We did our little photo shoot before putting the rest of the mousse in the refrigerator. Here is Miss January!

We used a color wheel to determine that Miss January would look smashing dressed in purple silk with a touch of mint green bling.

We used a color wheel to determine that Miss January would look smashing dressed in purple silk with a touch of mint green bling.

The rest went into the refrigerator and I took a little taste the next day. It was firmer than I expected. My solution was to bring it out of the refrigerator a short while before serving it and the mousse quickly became creamy again.

I note here that David L’s adaptation includes folding in beaten egg whites. This would definitely affect the density and is one of the options given in MTAOFC. I am considering making the original Juila Child recipe again using her egg white option and if I do, I will let you know how that turns out.

And what did our Dark Chocolate Mousse Aficionado think of this month’s classic french dessert? He liked it better after it had been chilled:

Great texture–really creamy even right out of the refrigerator. Thick, but not sticky. If I chew it, I detect a slight graininess from the type of sugar we used, but overall it is very creamy. The orange flavor is more developed and the color is darker now, like you would expect.  I’m tasting layers of flavors–creamy chocolatiness followed by the orange. A little cognac poured over this would be good!

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The idea here was to duplicate this recipe and I did that except for the type of sugar. For this reason, I cannot include the entire recipe here because it isn’t mine. I didn’t “adapt” it, I followed it almost exactly.  This is a point of personal integrity as well as legal copyright and I’m sure you understand.

If you don’t want to purchase the entire cookbook, check with your local library to see if they have copies, browse the local bookstore to find the exact recipe or try the David Lebovitz adaptation.

I have never made this dessert before and usually don’t work with sugar, egg yolks and this much butter. This is foreign territory for me which is what makes it fun, even if risky!  How much will the outcome of these 2013 mousse recipes be determined by the composition of the recipes themselves and how much by the fact that they are being prepared by me–a novice?

Now that I have my first dark chocolate mousse classic under my belt (Literally. No doubt this experiment will go straight to my waist and continue south), I will forge ahead on my Quest and perhaps I will create a fabulous dark chocolate mousse recipe of my own or come up with the cleverest of adaptations to give you.

Do you have a favorite dark chocolate mousse recipe to recommend or have you got one of your own? Let us know and send us your link!