Do you have a favourite TV show or chef that inspired you to cook a new and challenging recipe?
When the team at Virgin Media TV asked me this question, I thought about Rachel Khoo and The Little Paris Kitchen, a show that was aired for the first time on BBC in March 2012. Rachel Khoo has since then found international fame thanks to her fabulous cookbooks about French recipes.
I don’t usually watch cookery shows, but hers really caught my attention at the time, so much that I didn’t miss one episode. Rachel Khoo is famous for her “fresh approach to all things edible” and that’s what I love about her recipes: she makes them seem so accessible and effortless.
I watched the episodes of The Little Paris Kitchen again recently and I set myself the challenge to make the Chocolate Mousse with Cacao Nibs, a recipe “for all the chocaholics out there”. I tried making chocolate mousse in the past (with a different recipe) and failed, so I was a bit scared to give it a go again.
The preparation of this rich mousse requires a bit of time and effort, but all of it was worth it when I received a text from my husband saying “awesome mousse” in capital letters and several exclamation marks! (funnily enough, everything has been “awesome” for him since we watched The Lego Movie a few weeks ago) ;)
The recipe requires four steps: preparing a chocolate crème pâtissière (a thick custard cream), beating the egg whites into a meringue, whipping the cream and melting some dark chocolate. These four elements are then combined into an extremely chocolatey, sweet and light mousse. The best I have every tasted!
The special addition made by Rachel Khoo to her perfect mousse is cocoa nibs. These are pieces of roasted cocoa beans which can be eaten as a snack or added to shakes and cakes. I find them too bitter to eat raw, but they work well in this chocolate mousse as they balance out its sweetness. They also add a nice crunchiness to it.
Recipe by Rachel Khoo on BBC Food.
For the crème pâtissière
- 3 free-range egg, yolks only
- 50g caster sugar
- 20g cornflour
- 250ml whole milk
- 1 heaped tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
For the chocolate meringue
- 3 free-range eggs, whites only
- 50g icing sugar
- couple drops lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 150g dark chocolate, chopped
- 200ml whipping cream
- 2 tbsp soft butter
- 50g cocoa nibs
For the crème pâtissière, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thick, then whisk in the cornflower. Add the cocoa powder to the milk and bring to a boil then switch off the heat.
Pour the milk in a slow stream onto the egg mixture, whisking vigorously all the time (pour slowly to avoid scrambling the eggs). Return the mixture to a clean pot over a medium heat and whisk continuously. Make sure to scrape the sides and the bottom,
otherwise it will burn. The cream will start to thicken. Once it releases a bubble or two, take it off the heat.
Pour into a shallow bowl. Cover with cling film (pat the cling film so it sticks directly on to the cream) and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.
For the meringue, put half the egg whites into a clean glass or metal bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until white. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks when the whisk is removed.
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water) or in the microwave on a low setting.
In medium bowl, whip the cream with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form.
To make the mousse, beat the chilled crème pâtissière to remove any lumps before stirring in the melted chocolate. Mix in one third of the meringue, then gently fold in the rest followed by the whipped cream.
To serve, brush 4-6 glasses or ramekins with soft butter. Add some cocoa nibs and roll them around the sides and bottom of the glasses until evenly coated. Divide the mousse between the glasses and chill for at least an hour, but ideally four hours. Serve chilled, sprinkled with cocoa nibs.
The mousse is best eaten the same day and should not be kept for more than two days (due to the raw egg whites).
Disclaimer: this post was written in collaboration with Virgin Media.