Chocolate mousse will never win any beauty awards. Although it features near the top of my list of comforting desserts with its slightly retro silky smooth richness, chocolate mousse rarely featured at our table. Not because of its looks, but because of what I can only describe as a receptacle issue. Something on a par with never having the right shoes for the outfit, I lacked the right dish for serving chocolate mousse. Stumped by whether to make it in a large bowl and dollop it in large spoonfuls un-glamorously on a plate, or the alternative of individual twee ramekins - which defies all my rules of sharing - chocolate mousse fell off my dessert radar for many years.
Until recently. When my friend Pamela, who grew up in Madrid, mentioned olive oil chocolate mousse in passing over a coffee one morning. Intrigued by the addition of olive oil to an already dreamy, almost baby food texture and unaware of the famous Spanish Sephardic tradition (with recipes I have since found all over the internet), as soon as she sent me the recipe I started melting chocolate.
It turns out, Pamela’s mother’s best friend (with whom she cooks regularly), Anita Bensadon, holds celebrity cooking status not only in Madrid but amongst Spanish Jewry around the world. And now that I have researched numerous olive oil chocolate mousse recipes tried and tested by many of the epicurean greats, this is not only the lightest and creamiest, but also the least complicated I’ve seen.
Just like that, the moratorium on chocolate mousse was lifted. So much so, that when designing our menu, Jeremy and I decided that it had to be the dessert for our first Supper Club of this year, described elusively as chocolate scoop.
Of course we customised it: we stirred in chopped chocolate before leaving it to set and crumbled toasted hazelnut brittle on top for texture before serving it in large scoops on plates with blood orange sorbet (you can never have too much of a good thing when in season).
It may never win any awards for the most delicately plated dessert, but every single dish came back clean at our Supper Club. Enough said. Try it for yourselves.
Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse
Slightly adapted from Anita Bensado’s recipe via Astrid Misrahi and Pamela Crystal
The genius trick to achieving the light and creamy texture in this mousse not only comes from the addition of olive oil, but also because unlike most other recipes, it sets in the freezer for the first few hours before being transferred into the fridge. It also means you can make it the same day that you want to serve it instead of the night before.
I prefer to make this in a shallow dish as it makes the scooping marginally more delicate. I also find a shallow dish easier to slide into the freezer. Just make sure whatever you use fits in your freezer compartment.
Serves 12. Make it all, you are going to want to eat the leftovers straight out of the bowl the next day.
400g (14oz) dark chocolate (preferably 70%)
8 large eggs at room temperature, separated
150g (¾ cup) caster sugar
125ml (½ cup) olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
60ml freshly brewed espresso (preferably) or strong coffee (NOT instant)
Pinch of salt
Melt 300g (10.5oz) dark chocolate in a double boiler, or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. When it is melted and smooth take off the heat and allow to cool.
Separate the egg whites and yolks.
Beat the egg yolks with 100g (½ cup) sugar until pale. Slowly pour in the olive oil and whisk until completely incorporated and almost the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the vanilla extract.
Pour the freshly brewed (but not too hot) coffee into the chocolate and stir. Don’t panic, it will look like it is about to split. Keep stirring until it comes back together and is thick, smooth and shiny.
Fold the chocolate into the egg yolks and stir together until combined fully
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until just stiff. Do not over whip. Add the remaining 50g (¼ cup) sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.
Add ⅓ of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together to combine and loosent the chocolate. Pour the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites in 2 batches, folding carefully to incorporate everything with no streaks without knocking out too much air from the egg whites.
Finally fold in the last 100g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces / shards for a little texture.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow 25cm round dish or equivalent, or any large or individual receptacle of choice cover with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 2-3 hours until completely set.
Move into the fridge 2 hours before serving to allow to defrost. If you choose to make this in a deeper bowl you may want to give yourself a little extra defrosting time.
You can also make this the day before and leave it to set overnight. I find it is lighter made on the same day, but does not affect the completely delicious and very moreish taste.