As a kid, I wasn’t a very picky eater, but I absolutely hated chocolate. Cruciferous vegetables and organ meats weren’t a problem for me, but you couldn’t afford 5-year-old Genevieve to eat chocolate of any kind. It was far too bitter and earthy for my sophisticated young palate.
Everything changed when I discovered chocolate mousse at an end-of-year party. The little ramekin of mousse was topped with a rosette of whipped cream and a light dusting of cocoa powder, and with my parents’ encouragement, I bravely dunked my spoon to try it.
I was surprised to find that the mousse was just sweet and creamy enough to offset the bitterness of the chocolate. I don’t often describe dishes as life changing – because most of the time they aren’t – but this encounter with chocolate mousse really changed the course of my life. That bite put me on the path to becoming a pastry chef, and 20 years later I found myself cooking all kinds of chocolate desserts in restaurants.
Today, I love chocolate so much that I order it in a three-kilo bag at Valrhona. This is the only slightly messy purchase I make for my pantry. Having a cat-sized bag of chocolate sounds ridiculous – something only Willy Wonka would keep at home – but the huge amount of chocolate is like a security blanket for me. Each bag lasts several months and ensures that my cravings are always under control. It doesn’t take much to satisfy my sweet tooth, and a few pieces of chocolate often do the trick.
Lately, however, I’ve been making two easy desserts from Benedetta Jasmine Guetta’s upcoming cookbook, Cooking the way: a two-ingredient chocolate mousse and a rich, flourless chocolate cake that uses the mousse as a base.
The mousse recipe comes from Guetta’s grandmother, and it’s extremely simple to make. Dessert only requires good chocolate and eggs, making it something you can make even when you run out of staples like sugar and flour. To make the mousse, you gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. After removing the bowl from the heat and letting it cool, you whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate and incorporate the egg whites that you have beaten until stiff. Divide the mousse into ramekins and put it in the fridge for several hours, and that’s it. The result is slightly richer than your typical mousse and resembles a deep, dark, spoony chocolate ganache.
This quick and easy chocolate mousse has a few other tricks up its sleeve, though. Guetta walks you through a possible transformation: by just adding butter and sugar and popping it in the oven, you can turn it into a deeply flavored (and Passover-friendly) flourless chocolate cake. She asks you to set aside half of the dough in the fridge to make a delicious chocolate mousse filling, but if, like me, you can’t wait for the mousse to set, feel free to cook all the dough in a wonderfully rich paste. mouth cake – a cake so delicious that even my 5 year old would eagerly devour it.