I love to bake, I love desserts and I never shy away from a bit of sweet after a meal. Despite that I have never been a fan of essentials like yeast and gelatin, these two ingredients used to be my nemesis but then I got serious about the baking mantra of ‘weighing’ each ingredient. I still try my best to avoid using these guys! I have made mousse with gelatin before and they have always turned out fine but just fine... not great and certainly not perfect. I feel that way about mousse I order in restaurants too, I am so perceptive of the gelatin that even if it’s a tad overdone, my dessert is essentially ruined! I like for my mousse to taste like light, airy pudding and not something well gelatinous. I know enough chefs who do am amazing job with cream of tartar, something I stock but don’t use very much but my favourite mousse recipe is the one below, no cream of tartar, no gelatin, just the goodness of eggs, cream, sugar and chocolate. I think the real trick here is temperature which is why this recipe requires a little practise but once you get the hang of how your ingredients behave, you will master this in no time. This is certainly not a quick version but it is definitely simple. I make this on late Sunday mornings and it is set and ready to eat by dinner time.. that makes it ‘perfect’!
2 cups cream
3 tbsp fine sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence
200 gms semi sweet chocolate
I use a double boiler for this entire recipe. I don’t actually have one, I boil water in a large ‘patila’ (cauldron??) and I use a deep saucepan with a handle to melt/cook stuff in. The cream in this case needs to be heated which is tricky mainly because I like to use fresh cream bought from a dairy but if you use tetra packed cream then I believe it is more stable (preservatives I suppose!). I wish we had access (well at least easy access) to ingredients like whipping cream, whipped cream, heavy cream etc. but we don’t, so either its dairy fresh or Amul etc. while you wait for the double boiler water to boil, you can quickly whip up the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a separate stainless steel bowl (I love stainless steel, temperature control is way easier). Once you have the heat going, hold the cream over the steam and bring it almost boiling point. Slowly pour over the egg mixture, stirring all the while preferably with a whisk. Here’s another tricky part, pour with one hand, stir with the other, then who holds the bowl? I have 3 flat bottomed saucepans for exactly this type of quandary, for the lack of a food processor, these are the next best thing (s). Pour this custard back into the cream vessel and cook over the double boiler for about 3-4 minutes, whisking continuously. The idea is to cook the custard but not let the egg cook separately or let the cream curdle. Take off the double boiler and set aside to cool. In yet another saucepan, melt the 200 gms of chocolate (I use a nice dark chocolate for this, not compound stuff like Bourneville, see if you can get your hands on Callebaut, you will never order chocolate mousse anywhere again!) with a tbsp of butter, you can skip the butter but to be honest I tend to multi task in the kitchen and once my chocolate is sitting pretty in the double boiler and melting, I don’t want to keep hanging around with it, the butter makes sure the chocolate doesn’t stick or burn. I love use Amul butter, it is truly the best butter in India, vis a vis baking and desserts it has the right amount of salt, so I never put salt in my recipes, just the right butter. Melt the chocolate to a runny consistency, then blend into the custard. Whisk and blend well for a minute or two, set in ramekins, teacups, wine glasses, tiny little flower pots ... cool and set in the refrigerator for about 4-6 hours.
I don’t usually dress my desserts much, I feel it may take the attention away from the original flavour, so in this case I put a few chocolate shavings on the top and serve. I set this mousse in tiny china teacups my mum used to have ....I wish I had Turkish coffee cups for this, I remember serving coffee mousse in a set I used to have ages ago...wonder where those went? Anyway, enjoy!