Friday, 6 March 2015

Chocolate Chantilly (two ingredients chocolate mousse)

Chocolate Chantilly

The recipe for this chocolate mousse had been in my "must try" list for quite a long time but I hadn't tried before, probably because I had always given priority to more complicated, challenging new desserts so as to learn and master new techniques and basics in pastry-making. And I regret I didn't make it before! Because the technique behind this mousse - as it is actually more a basic technique for handling chocolate than a real recipe - leads to an absolutely amazing result, even more surprising considering that it requires just two ingredients (one of which is water), a whisk (an electric mixer makes everything quicker but it's not strictly necessary), a pan, a couple of bowls, and not more than fifteen minutes time. And it is one-hundred-percent impossible to make it wrong: should you make any mistake there is a way to fix it; actually, to be precise, you can always go back to the first step and make everything again from the beginning. 
What you get at the end is an airy, soft, creamy, super chocolatey mousse that, for real chocolate lovers, tastes even better than a traditional chocolate mousse, as there is no other ingredient (cream and / or eggs) to alter the natural flavor of chocolate. It can be served as it is, or topped/paired with whatever you like (whipped cream, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, cocoa nibs), or even used like a ganache, for filling tarts and tartlets, cakes, cupcakes or other baked goods. Interesting, isn't it?

And another interesting fact is that the mind behind the recipe is not a chef but a chemist, a French chemist named Herve This (pronounced Tiss) and quite renowned in his own country, whose work is much related to the science of cooking (and actually cooking is all a matter of chemistry and physics). One of his most popular study is this one on chocolate and water, that are known by all pastry chefs and passionate home cooks for not getting along too well, as even a single drop of water into the pan where chocolate is melting results in a grainy, lumpy and useless mixture. But when properly treated - and only a chemist could have found the alchemy between chocolate and water - they can become really best friends! 
Also famous chefs have applied This discoveries into their cuisine. One of them in particular, Heston Blumenthal, a British chef known for his scientific approach to cooking, contributed to the popularity of this chocolate mousse (there is video here showing the technique). 
Chocolate Chantilly

What made me finally decide to try the recipe? Probably it's a coincidence or maybe it's because I am obsessed with chocolate and always read all the recipes I see containing chocolate, but I've come across many recipes for "healthy" or "guilt-free" chocolate mousse lately. In place of the ingredients typically used in traditional chocolate mousse recipes - cream and/or eggs, sometimes sugar and, of course, chocolate - these recipes use healthier ingredients often inspired by the vegan diet: cocoa or chocolate (sometimes substituted for carob), and then a combination of some other things like avocado, bananas, dates, coconut or almond milk, agave or maple syrup (not all of them, of course, but different combinations depending on the recipe). And they are usually presented as really delicious, at least as tasty and enjoyable as the "original".
Well, all this talking and writing about chocolate mousse, made me start craving for some but, to be honest, I was (and still am) not really keen to make one of the in vogue guilt-free versions - mainly because the first and only time I made a recipe of this sort I ended up throwing everything in the garbage bin, and I'm not sure if will ever try again; at the same time, however, I wanted to prepare something lighter than a traditional chocolate mousse. I remembered I had written down this recipe on my cooking notebook and decided to give it a try. 

The result - perfect at the first attempt - was a really delicious Chocolate Chantilly (that's how This named it, probably because it reminds a dark version on the French Chantilly, that is sugared whipped cream): for sure it's not like eating cocoa flavored mashed bananas or avocado... But let's not forget that also chocolate, specially dark chocolate, is rich in substances (such as minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and polyphenols) which are health beneficial ... and a mousse like this, which tastes of pure chocolate, can have only positive effects, at least on your soul!
Just a warning. Since the recipe calls for only two ingredients, one of which is water, the quality of the chocolate you use will really make the difference. Feel free to use your favorite chocolate, any brand is fine as long as it has 70% cocoa solids (less or more cocoa solids will impact on the amount of water), and of course is top quality. 
If you find the taste of dark chocolate too strong, you may add a bit of sugar. 
Also it is possible to substitute all or part of the water for another liquid of your choice, like coffee, liquor or fruit juice. 
Chocolate Chantilly

Chocolate Chantilly (two ingredients chocolate mousse)
Recipe by Hervé This
4 servings
200 g dark chocolate (%70 cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped
180 ml water                     
optional: sugar, liquor (in this case subtract the amount of liquor from water)
Place a large mixing bowl on top of another slightly smaller one, filled with ice and cold water or only ice; the bottom of the large bowl should touch the ice. Set aside.
Put chocolate and water - and sugar and/or liquor if using - in a medium sized pan and melt the chocolate over medium heat, stirring occasionally (using a double boiler to melt the chocolate is not necessary here as the presence of water will prevent the chocolate from burning).
Transfer the melted chocolate into the chilled mixing bowl and, keeping the bowl over the ice-water mix, start whisking (by hand  or with an electric mixer) until thick. Pay attention to the texture of the mousse while whipping and make sure not to over-whip as it will make the mousse grainy (see below for remedy).
Divide into your serving  cups and serve immediately or refrigerate. Consider that refrigeration will make the mousse firmer, but still soft and creamy; in this case keep it at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
The mousse can be served "natural" or with one or more topping of your choice (fresh or dried fruit, whipped cream, nuts, cocoa nibs, crumble, ...). It can also be used as you would do with a chocolate ganache or a chocolate frosting.
The mousse keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.
What can go wrong and how to fix it
You are not able to whip the mousse:  You've probably added too much water; pour back the mixture into the saucepan, add few pieces of chocolate, melt, pour it back to iced the mixing bowl and whip again.
The mousse is too hard: You added too less water.  Pour back the mixture into the saucepan and add some water. Melt , pour it back to iced the mixing bowl and whip again.
The mousse becomes grainy: You whipped too long. Transfer the mousse back into the pan, reheat until half of it is melted, pour it back to the mixing bowl and whisk again.
Notes
·         If you find the taste of dark chocolate too strong you can add some sugar
·         Water, all or part of the total quantity, can be substituted for another liquid of your choice (coffee, tea, liquor, fruit juice)

Chocolate Chantilly





8 comments:

  1. What an ingenious recipe - thank you for sharing:-)

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  2. So simple and brilliant! Thanks for sharing :) will try this with coffee & vanilla

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    1. I'm glad you like it...You can add any flavor you like. Remember, if using coffee, to reduce water so as the total amount of liquid remains the same. Let me know how it comes out!

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  3. Lovely recipe - I'm interested in trying it out. It's fantastic to know that you can make mousse using just chocolate and water :-) Funnily enough, I'm actually about to post a chocolate mousse recipe soon as well. Yours looks great!

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    1. Thanks Erum! Now I'm waiting for your version (I guess it will be on the healthy side like all your lovely recipes). This is interesting actually, very tasty, versatile and also easily scalable ...

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  4. Chocolate Chantilly... I am anyway sold on chocolate and then the French connection! Great to read the story behind it as well. Chocolate can be versatile, at the same time can be difficult to handle, if one doesn't know the properties... quite a lady!

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    1. Thanks Ishita! I know, chocolate is irresistibly good...but requires a gentle hand! But with some practice it is not difficult.

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