I forgot to take photos - but really how many brown globs can you look at for inspiration?
A Christmas BBQ for the collected neighbours supplied me with an opportunity for another round of mousse trials and a wider test audience.
OK, so #2 was the molecular gastronomy version of chocolate mousse whipped into public consciousness by Heston, but actually captured first by Herve This. It's just chocolate and water, with the water being whisked into the chocolate to form an emulsion as the melted chocolate cools.
It was super easy to make, and for a hard core chocolate lover it has a purity to be admired. On the downside it was heavy. Maybe I didn't whisk hard enough - though the recipe does recommend you want out for over whisking rather than under whisking so who knows. Also, if you aren't a dark chocolate lover, this version might be a bit bitey. My kids found it unpalatable and to be honest, it was too much for me. I'm not clear whether the strict instruction for at least 70% cocoa solids in the chocolate is a form of taste snobbery or an actual chemical requirement - this may have more universal appeal if made with a milk chocolate?
#3 was based on Elizabeth David's perennial whole egg no cream classic recipe, except that at the last moment I added a little whipped cream to try and rescue the overly heavy result. I fully acknowledge user error here but making this version was a total nightmare.
I melted my chocolate and duly beat in my egg yolks in a thin stream but swiftly and the chocolate hardened to a solid mass instantly. I duly added my third of my egg whites to break up the mass as I believe I should have, but they were not nearly enough to break the mass up - it was still a solid lump. I added more whites but the idea I could 'fold' these in was ludicrous, and by the time I had anything like a pliable consistency, the air was fairly fully deflated from the whites. The resulting mousse was very unmousse-like and still very bittersweet, and since I am still hoping to find something both children and adults will eat I whipped a little cream and folded this in.
The resulting mouse was still too heavy and still too bittersweet - the 5 children who sampled it gave it mixed reviews - 2 couldn't get past the first mouthful or two. One of them was my son, who would happily eat dog shit if dipped in chocolate, so that's saying something. About half the adult samplers added plain cream to their mousse to try and lighten it. Again I wonder whether some milk chocolate mixed in with the dark, or more sugar or more cream would have helped. I'd also like to know if there's a better way to get from solid mass to mousse.
The adults also joined in with my musings over how low end restaurant mousse is made - several of us remarking how it tastes the same no matter where you have it (single supplier for the whole of Melbourne?) and nothing like anything anyone ever made at home. And while I don't wish to reveal myself to be any more of a bogun than many of you may think of me already - I'm not entirely adverse to the chocolate mousse we occasionally get as a freebie with our pizza delivery from the local pizzeria. It certainly feels blasphemous to say it, but so far the three trials I've run have all failed to inspire me at all to bother making it over buying what is no doubt some kind of hideous caricature of real food.
And this is so very unlike me! I am not a fan of packaged food over home made - of flavours or textures far removed from the source. [Except lolly bananas, but who could blame me there?] Members of my own foodie family have been known to have a go at me for being too heavily into 'quality'.
So what happens now? I am all out of inspiration and right now am feeling not at all kindly disposed to chocolate mousse AT ALL. Is this just my own version of Christmas overload? Performance anxiety? Reaction to so much gluttony? Am I lousy cook, do I have the wrong recipe, will this end well?
So please, please do tell me. I want an authentic French mousse. One that isn't hard to make, one that doesn't pucker my lips with bitterness, one my kids will like, one that isn't so heavy and rich that it can reasonably be eaten at then end of a full meal. Tell me what I'm doing wrong, give me the answer or the recipe, or the number of the guy that makes the stuff that all the pizza shops buy. Because time is running out!