The best chocolate mousse I have ever had was in the Slovenian village of Divača. We had just crossed the border from Croatia, and on our way to Lake Bled, we stayed at a nineteenth centrury farmhouse overnight, so that we could visit the nearby Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The owner of the farmhouse Ervin is a fantastic chef, and to this day I still remember this asparagus risotto, so creamy and fresh:
And his chocolate mousse:
I went back after our cave visit the next day just to order it again, but an Australian couple beat me to it! Who said revenge is a dish served cold…To make it official, I took a picture of their plate ^o^.
Since then, I have been looking for the prefect chocolate mousse recipe in hopes to reproduce this dish. I toyed with Julia Child’s Mousse aux Chocolat, but I don’t really fancy coffee, the color isn’t as dark and the texture is a bit loose and runny compared to that of my recollection.
Last week I finally found this recipe, courtesy of Hervé This, a French molecular gastronomist. Contrary to any traditional chocolate mousse recipes, this one does not use milk, heavy cream, eggs or sugar. There are only two key ingredients: high quality chocolate, and water.
- 285 grams bittersweet chocolate (about 10 ounces), roughly chopped, more as needed
- 1 cup water
- Cold water and ice, for ice bath.
- Create an ice bath in a large bowl using ice and a little cold water. Nestle a smaller bowl in ice bath.
- Place chocolate and 1 cup water in a small pot and heat over medium. Whisk until mixture is melted and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Immediately pour melted chocolate into the bowl in the ice bath. Vigorously whisk chocolate mixture by hand until thick, 3 to 5 minutes. The chocolate should be fluffy and form a mound when dolloped with the whisk (it should generally have the texture and appearance of mousse). Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with whatever you like.
- For a lighter mousse, use 265 grams of bittersweet chocolate or just add more water.
Good thing about this recipe is that you can repeat the steps as many times as you like to achieve the consistency of your choice. I started with a very light mousse sprinkled with fleur de sel:
Then I made one very dense, sort of a chocolate ganache, almost truffle base texture.
On the third try, I figured out the right consistency and spooned it into quenelle shapes:
And scooped the rest into a jar for storage and future enjoyment:
Škocjan Caves have one of the largest known underground canyons in the world. Reka river, which started as a big creek in Croatia, flows underneath this cave. One hundred fifty feet above the Reka is the narrow Cerkvenik Bridge. Photography is forbidden in the cave. But walking along this bridge with the thundering Reka river is an experience not to be missed. It somehow reminded me of the mines of Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring, the bridge where Gandolf stood and shouted at Balrog: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!