My family goes to the same spot in Jamaica every year, and my dad always tells us that he swears the restaurant at the resort we stay at puts something in their chocolate cake to make it completely addictive. He might be right, because I always find myself going back for an extra bowl or four. Finally, after several years of listening to this, I asked one of the waiters what was in the cake my dad raves so much about.
He kind of laughed, and told me that it was actually a chocolate and tia maria cake. No wonder it was so addictive. But it speaks to a fundamentally true dessert concept: while chocolate is good, chocolate, coffee and liqueur are great.
Well, I have managed to turn my dad's favorite dessert into a chocolate mousse. And I've realized, now, what my previous mousse recipes were lacking, and what made them go wrong: they needed several very generous splashes of liqueur.Â Ok, well, maybe that couldn't have saved all of my previously chronicled mousse failures, but it was actually a large part of the texture problem. The chocolate section of the recipe needed something to make it a little bit lighter, so that it could incorporate itself into the egg and cream without deflating them: water and liqueur.
I didn't figure this out entirely on my own, though. My DVR helped quite a bit, because it happened to record an episode of America's Test Kitchen, which is pretty much my favorite cooking show, and in that episode, they tackled chocolate mousse.Â With this knowledge, and adding a few of their tweaks to my prior recipe, I was ready to boldly go where I'd never (successfully) gone before.
But, if I do say so myself, this one knocked my expectations out of the park.Â It was just incredible.Â I served the mousse in pretty little dessert cups at the end of a great dinner party, and everyone loved them. And now that I have the basic principles down, there will be plenty more chocolate mousse recipes where this one came from -- it's a perfect dish to entertain with because it's made ahead of time, and everyone loves chocolate. But don't take my word for it -- go make it yourself!
Chocolate Mocha Mousse
For the Chocolate Mocha Mousse:
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tablespoons tia maria
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp water
3 eggs, separated
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
For the Whipped Cream:
2Â tbsp tia maria
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp chocolate shavings
1. Combine chocolate, butter, cocoa powder, 4 tbsp water water and 3 tbsp tia maria in a double-boiler, and heat until chocolate melts to a smooth consistency.
2. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate warm, but not hot.
3. Beat together the egg yolds and 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir a little bit of the warm chocolate into the egg yolks, and then stir all of the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate.
4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites and one tablespoon of sugar until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
5. Beat one cup of heavy cream until it forms soft peaks (do not overbeat!). Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.
6. Spoon the mousse into serving dishes. Refrigerate the dishes, covered with saran wrap, for at least 8 hours or up to one day.
7. Immediately before serving, whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar to soft peaks. Beat in 2 tbsp tia maria until incorporated. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream onto each of the mousse dishes, and garnish with chocolate shavings. Serve.
Makes about 10 small-ish servings, or 6-8 medium-sized ones.