"If any man has drunk a little too deeply from the cup of physical pleasure; if he has spent too much time at his desk that should have been spent asleep; if his fine spirits have become temporarily dulled; if he finds the air too damp, the minutes too slow, and the atmosphere too heavy to withstand; if he is obsessed by a fixed idea which bars him from any freedom of thought: if he is any of these poor creatures, we say, let him be given a good pint of amber-flavored chocolate....and marvels will be performed."
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
In the seventies, Fondue parties were big. My parents had two fondue sets that were purchased in Switzerland, one for the cheese - served with lashings of schnapps - and one for the chocolate. They were popular dinner party hosts.
The hair was big, the textiles bold and the music cheesy, but I was intrigued by the whole process. My emotionally delicate mother would usually end up with a passive agressive pout and would retire early with a migraine, while dad - the raconteur - entertained the guests until exhausted. I would watch TV quietly in another room and clean up after them when the guests had left.
My mother was also well known for her classic Cantonese dishes and her Fusion food which pre-dated any restaurant fads. My father was venerated as a trained Patissier who only pottered with it for fun. When the Fondue craze passed and its kitsch sets were relegated to an unreachable cupboard, he invariably kept returning to two chocolate desserts by popular demand.
One was a mountain of Profiteroles - custard filled choux pastry balls drizzled with chocolate. The other was Chocolate Mousse. Neither stretched him creatively so after a time they became my domain - along with mixing and serving the pre-dinner drinks. Having licked many bowls and spatula's in the process, I feel as though I can make them blindfolded.
So, with another hot evening to be spent with the Custard Crusaders eating dishes made from Greg & Lucy Malouf's Turquoise, I resisted the temptation to turn on the oven to bake, as I had on New Year's Eve. Looking at a stash of Lindt Milk Chocolate - which doesn't turn me on - and some Bittersweet Lindt couverture - actually my cup of tea - languishing in the cupboard, I invoked my childhood memories to make what my father called in Ching-lish, 'Jiggle-it-Mousie'.
(Cantonese speakers tend to break words down phonetically in to monsyllabic phrases and add '-ie' to the ends of English words. The first word sounds like the Cantonese word for Chocolate.)
This recipe is also similar to my family's chocolate & cognac ice cream recipe, and is an excellent way to use up any Easter Eggs approaching their use-by-date. It is also Coeliac friendly - yes my friend, Gluten Free Gourmet, you can make this too.
(Serves eight shameless chocoholics)
350g Chocolate - the best you have
4 eggs Separated (if you're using fresh farmers eggs which are small, add in a duck egg or 2 more hen eggs)
2.5 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tbsp Caster Sugar
250mls Thickened cream
In a bain-marie or a medium sized mixing bowl suspended over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate until viscous. Remove from heat and add egg yolks, stirring with a spatula. Add Grand Marnier. Stir in.
In another bowl whisk egg whites until soft peaks form then add sugar, whisking until the thick and glossy, but not stiff in the manner of a meringue. Fold a large spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate until well blended, then fold in the rest until combined.
Whisk cream until thickly whipped and then fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon evenly into chilled vessels and cover with Glad Wrap. Chill for two hours in the fridge and garnish prior to serving with grated chocolate.
In my childhood it was doled out in ramekins and served with more whipped cream and in the eighties, cointreau drenched berries. Times change, I keep it simple now and use cone shaped bowls or martini glasses with a garnish of bitter chocolate or orange flavoured Iranian fairy Floss. If you want to go 'Molecular', add a white chocolate foam to the top and serve in Duralex glasses with a little Biscotti on the side.