Two Saturdays back I got an especially fun text from my beau, who was making me dinner at his place: “Do you want mousse for dessert or ice cream/popcorn?” I knew that ice cream/popcorn referred to things ready and waiting in the apartment (not, sadly, the salted caramel sundae with popcorn from ABC Kitchen that makes me swoon, tho I should really try to recreate that at home one of these days), but the mousse was a mystery. When I asked for more info he said that he was making Mexican food for dinner and thought a spicy chocolate mousse (inspired by this bare bones recipe) would go well…but in that case could I maybe pick up heavy cream and spicy chocolate? Alrighty. I decided to take the project over, and see what I could come up with.
There are lit-rally three fancy candy stores on the walk from my house to his, but I opted for good ole Union Market, and wasn’t disappointed–I had my pick of about four supposedly spicy chocolate types. I settled on “spicy maya” by chuao, which has cinnamon, pasila chile, and cayenne. It was perfect for our purposes, but it would be so fun to play around with different flavors–I just know there’s a salted dark chocolate bar with lavender out there somewhere, and someday I’m gonna put it in a mousse. I think the sky’s the limit when it comes to the ways you could doctor this simple recipe.
This was the first time I’ve actually made mousse, and I was so pleased by how easy and quick it was. I’ve previously made a pot de creme recipe of my mothers that comes together easily, but involves a blender and several hours of chilling. And most of the mousse recipes I’ve come across involve eggs and lots of steps. This was as simple as could be: you melt chocolate and water in a double boiler (a mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water, in my case), whip cream, combine the two, and chill. The original recipe called for vanilla for flavoring, but I think playing around with different kinds of chocolate bars is much more fun.
One note: when we were text-planning this meal, Hal told me he thought the mousse would take about an hour. Not so. It pretty much comes together as quickly as you can melt chocolate and whip cream–and the latter happens awesomely speedily with an immersion blender. Does everyone know this but me? I’ve whipped cream with a hand mixer and a stand mixer before, but never thought to use my immersion blender. Hal suggested it, and I’m not looking back. You have to move the blender around a bit to get the cream to really whip, but that’s not exactly a hardship (again: did everyone else already know this?). The cream whipped up faster than any I’ve done before, with the perfect texture. Definite win.
This would be a great Valentines Day dessert, especially if you’re focusing more on you main course (like I am, ahem…) and don’t want to spend a ton of time on a complicated dessert this time around. You could easily tailor it to suit your Valentine’s favorite flavors, and I can think of few desserts that impress as easily. It may not have the visual wow factor of Laura’s fabulous sprinkle treats, but it’s still a great option if you’re looking for a sweet for your sweetie.
spicy chocolate mousse,
adapted from food.com
2 bars spiffy chocolate of your choice, adding up to 6ish ounces, broken into small pieces 5 tbs water
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
extra whipped cream and chocolate for garnish, if desired
Using a double-broiler (or a bowl resting on a saucepan with a few inches of simmering water), melt chocolate and water together, stirring frequently. Let cool.
Whip together cream and sugar. I used an immersion blender, which was a total revelation.
Fold whipped cream into chocolate, mixing til just blended together.
If the mousse doesn’t seem thick or set enough–which it won’t, if you were too impatient to let the chocolate really cool all the way–throw it in the fridge for a bit.
Serve in whatever bowl or cup most pleases your aesthetic, with a little extra double of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings if you’re feeling extra fancy.