This week it’s all about Valentines Day, which means………………chocolate!
Dark Chocolate is known to make people happy by releasing hormones that create euphoria. Chocolate can relieve a host of ailments, including depression, fatigue, pain and PMS, as well as rev up your sex drive! Sounds like something we should be eating every day! So make this decadent dessert for your sweetie and feel free to indulge knowing its all good…
Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse was the first fancy dessert I ever made. Back in the 80’s I signed up for a series of cookbooks from Time-Life, Great Meals in Minutes. I received a different cookbook every month through the mail, each with a theme and wonderful, quick and easy to follow recipes. I really enjoyed thumbing through each new book and getting great ideas. (This was before we could google everything). As a new cook, I learned how to put together a complete meal and end up with everything ready at the same time, which is really the biggest challenge in cooking. Looking up the recipe again was a bit of a walk down memory lane. The page is now adorned with a big circle of chocolate, as if a young cook in a hurry put the Cuisinart lid down on top of the open cookbook. Another page with a favorite pasta recipe is splattered with red wine vinegar, remnants from a meal long past.
Many of the recipes I still use came from these books even though over the years I’ve made them my own. I rarely go back and follow a recipe twice (unless I’m baking and every drop and crumb makes a difference). The Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse recipe by Helen Witty came from the Great Meals in Minutes, “Pasta Menus” cookbook. I was a newlywed at the time and figuring out what to cook for my new husband. I came from a large family where chili and casseroles were king and he grew up with meat and potatoes. To make it even more of a challenge, he doesn’t like foods with mayo or any kind of cream, so it was hard to find recipes that worked for him that were still yummy to me. I remember feeling lucky to find a dessert recipe at all that isn’t loaded with heavy cream or cream cheese. I have made this bittersweet mousse several times since then when I’m looking for a special dessert. It has a nice creamy texture and wonderful flavor. It looks very elegant, yet it’s deceptively simple.
Although this recipe needs several hours in the refrigerator to chill, you can prepare it in just a few minutes with a food processor or blender. The recipe only makes about 2 1/2 cups (2 large or 4 small servings) so chocolate lovers may want to double the recipe. When I made this so many years ago, I used regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, because that was what was available, and it was delicious. You can use regular chocolate chips but a dark chocolate with at least 60% cacao will make it even more divine, as will using real vanilla and a good quality coffee or espresso. There are so many high quality chocolates available now, Green & Black’s, Divine, CocoaVie and one that is perfect for Valentine’s Day, Chocolove xoxox that even comes with a love poem inside (to name only a few of the many). Ghirardelli now makes a 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate chip that is perfect for baking. I made this mousse twice, once with Ghirardelli 60% chips and then with Green & Black’s Dark 85% bar (3.5oz). Both batches were pretty good but the Green & Black mousse was slightly less sweet and a little more bittersweet. My taste testers this time (the Zubers) declared the first better with fruit and the second with a bit of whipped cream. This recipe goes fast so I would recommend having everything pre-measured and ready at room temperature, especially the eggs which are more elastic and create more volume at room temperature.
This mousse would be delicious in a regular dessert dish, but the proper presentation will elevate it to something special. You can make an exquisite dinner but slop it on the table and it won’t get the credit it deserves, or conversely, you can beautifully arrange a few random things you have in your kitchen into a pretty nice looking tray for an impromptu gathering and people will think you’re an amazing hostess. For this romantic and sentimental holiday, I have prepared my husband’s dessert in one of the wedding goblets in which I served the original mousse and mine in one of the beautiful crystal and gold dessert cups that I recently received from my mother in law. These beautiful crystal dishes belonged to my husband’s grandmother, Nana Rosella and I thought it perfect, in a time of love to remember “Big Nana” as she was called among our family, even though she was 4’10” on a good day, because she was very generous and loving and we keep her in our hearts. As we all know, Valentine’s Day is a holiday of hearts.
Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse
Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse
2 Tbsn sugar
1 1/2 Tbsn unsweetened baking cocoa
2 tsp powdered instant coffee or espresso
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces or dark chocolate bar, chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs strawberries or raspberries for garnish pirouette cookies (optional)