Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mousse au Chocolat (Raymond Blanc)

The Great Blanc and my love for Mousse au chocolat

Mousse au chocolat is probably one of the most beloved desserts of all times. Read enough articles and you shall be amazed at hoe many variants there can be. From light, airiness to a rich smoothness. Now the preference of course varies and there is no harm no foul in what you like. Talking about myself, I love the airy , airy airy kind, smooth yet so light that it disappears inside the mouth the moment you take a spoonful of this delicious dessert. Ever since that first accidental video I watched seeing the great Blanc at work I fell in love head over heels with his work. You see there are of course brilliant chefs around the world but this one self taught man is so gentle so warm that it seems as if he is your neighborhood darling Uncle with a bag full of stories of his Maman Blanc. His work has that perfection which can be achieved easily at home and yet not obsessively  professional . His work is like a waltz beautiful, charming, special. And this man who has received the OBE award for perfecting his culinary skills from the Queen of England is all self taught.

So I was quite satisfied with the mousse I would make with yolks and whites of the egg and a little cream and then I watched Raymond Blanc at work and there was just something about it and so I switched to his Maman Blanc's recipe. Aaaah! Light oh so light, airy, yet creamy with that perfect taste of chocolate. It does take a bit of time to perfect the recipe due to the absence of the yolks which means you have to be quicker than a cat for the perfect results. 2 trials and now I am no fire with mousse all because of Blanc. So it was a perfect starting to this wonderful dessert which the man of the hour says is worth "taking 10 minutes of your time" for.

 I leave it to set and well 3 hours pass by and setting but still jiggly nothing. I leave it yet for another 2 hours and yet not fully set. Ah "the abominable snowman" the "bashi bazouk" of that refrigerator which has auto-defrosting and today was the day the " nincompoop " had decided to defrost. No worries by 5 hours it was mostly set. I used a trick of 10 minutes in the freezer for that heaven in a bowl. You see ever since my ears were pulled hard enough for them to become red for using the term "damn" I am familiar with the house rules. So Captain Haddock is my only source of expletives. if only the old man knew the kind of expletives that flow freely today.

This also takes me back to my first date. The old man's rule was if a boy wants to take you out he must first consult with me. So while every other person I knew was sneaking to a date my scared little date had to call him up to ask his permission. Permission granted with the strictest of orders of returning the daughter before 9 p.m. which was followed but not before the date treated me to one of the best mousse in town. To be fair my family was and is still highly partial to the oldest bakery in town which does not still serve mousse and I hadn't tasted it before that cold night in a relatively new but over 25 year old bakery.  Needless to say the "date" was lost with growing up but the taste captivated me. The Old man is not sexists , in fact he is more progressive than most people of this country or even of most of the world but that would be a different kind of post altogether.

It is basically a 5 ingredient mousse

7 egg whites
170gm of good dark chocolate
40gm of castor shifted sugar
A few drops of lemon juice
Cocoa powder in case you do not know the percentage of dark chocolate

There are some rules to be followed :-

  1. The utensils used for whipping the whites must be bone dry without a drop of fat. One drop and it will all be ruined. Fat is egg white's enemy. 
  2. Since in India you do not get the percentage of cocoa solid there is no way of knowing the percentage of dark chocolate and so keeping some cocoa powder handy is useful if you are like me and like your normal chocolates with a minimum of 80% cocoa solid. 
  3. Tempering the chocolate properly is extremely important. You cannot use too much heat so that it seizes (becomes a grainy mass) 
  4. You have to be quicker than lightning when working with the egg whites and chocolate together else the chocolate seizes with the egg whites coming in contact with the warm chocolate. I perfected it not before trial and error of 2 times. :D but then what are Blanc's videos for eh? 
  5. When melting chocolate remember the container in which you put the chopped chocolate should eb bone dry. One drop of water and chocolate will seize. 

The egg whites

So start by bringing a container of water to a simmer and chop your chocolate as fine as you can, it helps in melting it properly. Put the chocolate in a clean bowl and place it top of the simmering water. In the meantime quickly whip up your egg whites with a few drops of lemon (the lemon helps prevent the whites from collapsing even if you whip it for a long period) and when they form soft peaks add the sugar after sifting it and whip to firm peaks. 

Now keep an eyes for the chocolate as well and use a spatula to make a smooth treat for the eyes. 

Now is your time to add the cocoa powder if required as per taste and in case you do not know what percentage of dark chocolate you are working with. use 1 heaped teaspoonful of cocoa powder and mix real well, taste and if required add one more tsp . Work very quickly. Then very very quickly add 1/3rd of the egg white and mix well with spatula. Remember not to use the whisk anymore else you knock the bubbles down and your mousse becomes a thick mass, this is the time to be faster than lightening else you will be left with little bits of chocolate after the mouse sets. 

Quickly mix the rest of the egg white and mix well and pour in bowls or dessert goblets and let it set for 2 to 3 hours or if it takes more time be patient. 

Since I have already explained my situation with the refrigerator, I did pop it in the freezer after 5 hours for 10 minutes and it set beautifully. 

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