Chocolate Mousse – another of Mr. Bartholomew’s culinary obsessions that I benefit greatly from as his shoot assistant and taste tester. For the past few years he’s been on a mousse mission to recreate his experiences that he’s had on each of his trips to France. His first authentic French mousse was in Franche-Comté at le Château de Nantilly. His second mousse memory was made in Beaune, at Le Caveau des Arches. The third and most decisive mousse moment was in Paris at Brasserie Bofinger in Paris, where candied orange peel awaits you at the bottom of the dish.
After several laborious attempts over the years to get that perfect mousse consistency and flavor, his latest attempt was by far the best. After a lot of work, and a lot of bowls to wash in the aftermath, he emerged from the kitchen with these two masterpieces. Grand Marnier of course takes this mousse to an advanced level of indulgence, and credit goes to Ina Garten’s book Barefoot in Paris which once again had another winner of a recipe, shown here decorated with orange zest and mandarin orange slices. Recipe below, but of course!
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, separated
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup cold heavy cream
Whipped Cream for decoration
Mandarin oranges, drained, for decoration
Combine the two chocolates, Grand Marnier, ¼ cup water, and the vanilla in a heat-proof bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water just until the chocolate melts. Cool completely to room temperature. Whisk in the orange zest and butter until combined.
Place the egg yolks and ½ cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick and pale yellow. With the mixer on low speed, add the chocolate mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place 1 cup of egg whites (save or discard the rest), the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until firm but not dry. Whisk ¼ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then fold the rest in carefully with a rubber spatula.
Without cleaning the bowl or whisk, whip the heavy cream and the remaining tablespoon of sugar until firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into individual dishes or an 8-cup serving bowl. Chill and decorate with whipped cream and oranges. Serve with extra whipped cream on the side.