Tag Archives: Chocolate

Light Chocolate Mousse Recipe

ChocMousse1 I have a recipe for a fully loaded chocolate mousse, lots of cream.  The thing is, I sometimes (scratch that), always want something sweet (not too sweet), even when I’m trying to eat a bit lighter, be a bit more healthy.  So, I trawled my recipe books and the internet to do some research on the classic chocolate mousse and it’s versions and variations.  Guess what I found out?  Well, the more traditional recipes don’t even use cream, they use egg whites to give the airy bubbly texture to the mousse.  Good news – right?

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Chilling Time: Minimum one hour, up to 24 hours, this sets the mousse

For 2 to 4 Servings

2 x large eggs 80gr / 2.8 oz.

Good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

2 x tsp honey 1 x tbsp water

Method

  1. Melt chocolate and water slowly in a heat proof bowl over simmering water (bain marie). When it has melted sit the bowl on a cool surface for a couple of minutes.
  2. Separate the eggs, beat the yolks with the honey until creamy.
  3. Clean off your whisks and then beat the whites until they reach stiff peaks.
  4. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and honey mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until smoothly incorporated. It’s important that the chocolate is cool enough, otherwise the eggs will cook.
  5. Mix about a third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mix to loosen it.
  6. Fold in the next third of egg white to the chocolate, with a metal spoon, followed by the last third.
  7. When everything is evenly mixed together, pour into the bowls or glasses in which you wish to serve the mousse and chill for a couple of hours before serving.

chocmoussemake Tips and Variations You can get creative with adapting the flavour of this basic chocolate mousse mix. I tend to adapt it to things I am serving it with for example a liqueur or coffee or fruit Here are some of the things I like to add:

    • Vanilla extract (a few drops)
    • 1 x tbsp Grandmanier
    • 1 x tbsp rum
    • 1 x tbsp Amaretto
    • 1 x tbsp Whiskey liqueur (favourite is Glayva)
    • 1 x tbsp strong espresso

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

As far as I’m concerned chocolate is a food group, so an essential part of a healthy balance diet.  With chocolate as with so many things in life, pure is best.  The chocolates I love to eat are the ones made from the best quality ingredients, no funny ingredients added to extend life or cover up nasties.  These chocolate shops all use fair trade ingredients.

I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I let you come to Amsterdam and not eat the very best, so here are my top three favourites.

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Pompadour

Pompadour : Situated in the 9-straatjes, Pompadour is a great place to stop for coffee and some chocolate to recuperate from all that tiring boutique shopping.  Of course I’m not forcing you to eat chocolate, you could choose one of their tasty cakes instead.  A beautiful little tearoom where the interior reflects the decadence and quality of the products – the ornate panelling was brought from the council buildings of the Belgian town of Mortsel where it was made in 1795.

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Puccini

Puccini :  These chocolates are generous in flavour and size.  Italian traditions influence the product as well as some seasonal ingredients.  They promise every Puccini chocolate to be a unique experience and I’d have to agree, like they say ‘Why re-create something that already exists’.  You’ll find Puccini in National Geographic’s list of best chocolate makers in the world for 2012.

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Van Soest

Van Soest:  I shouldn’t show so much favouritism, but … Van Soest are my very very favourite and have been since I discovered them.  Each flavour works perfectly, and I mean perfectly.  They use Belgian chocolate to create their own recipes and with the injection of their personal classy style, I just cannot resist.  I have no words.

If this has put you in the mood for some chocolate, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours?  Just you and your own party with some of the very best sweet treats the city has to offer.  The Chocoholics Tour of Amsterdam

 

Scottish Macaroons

Scottish Macaroons

Scottish Macaroons

You must have been living under a rock for the past couple of years if you haven’t noticed the obsession with macaroons.  Along with cup cakes, I think it has to be the biggest craze of recent years.  Thing is, every time I heard people talking about macaroons, every email I got about the latest recipe or the latest store to open offering the little sweets, I kept getting a niggling feeling at the back of my mind.   Something telling me there was something not right about the macaroon to which everyone was referring.

It took me a while (that’s how it goes when your head is filled to capacity with all sorts of strange foodie thoughts), but eventually I realised what had been annoying me.

The macaroon ‘craze’ was only about French macaroons, and of course, us Scots have our very own definition of a macaroon.  Totally different to the light, melt in your mouth French version, but nevertheless, just as tempting.  My confusion came from the fact that I grew up with the Scottish version, interspersed with tastes of the English version, but had never, never encountered the French version.

As you can see from the following recipe, the Scottish version uses coconut and potato (yes, I know, only a little though, just as a binding agent), lots of icing sugar and is coated in chocolate.  The English version also uses coconut, but has egg whites in the mix and there is no use of chocolate (or potato! I think  they’re missing a trick there!).

Preparation Time: 50 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes (if you need to cook the potatoes)

Ingredients for around 20 to 25 macaroons

100gr /  4oz. cooked potatoes, which have been cooled and mashed smooth to remove all lumps.
500gr / 17oz. icing sugar.  This quantity can vary, so best to have extra available.
225gr / 80z. 70% chocolate.  Again, have extra available.
200gr / 7oz. desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Place a sheet(s) of grease proof paper on a baking tray or plate(s).  Set these aside ready to take your macaroons.  You will be putting them in the freezer, so they need to be a size that will fit.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and add half of the coconut and three quarters (roughly) of the icing sugar.  Bring this together, I find it easiest with a spatula, or large metal spoon.  It will be very sticky, but keep going until all the sugar and coconut is incorporated evenly into the mix.  You want to get this sticky mix to a state that you can handle it enough to shape it.  If needed add the rest of the sugar, or more sugar and coconut if need be to get your mix to the desired consistency.
  3. Take small pieces of the mix, about the size of a walnut in its shell.  Roll them out, flatten a little and shape until you get thick rectangles.  Of course you can make them any size and shape you want, but I like to keep them quite small, firstly because they are very sweet, so you don’t need a large macaroon.  And secondly to keep the ratio of chocolate to centre at a balanced level.
  4. When rolling and forming your macaroons, work swiftly.  The reason for this is that if you play with them too much the heat of your hand will make them more sticky and difficult to work with.  Should this happen, you can always put them in the fridge or freezer (not too long in the freezer) to stiffen the mix up a little and make it more manageable.
  5. Once your macaroons are formed and placed  on the trays with grease proof paper, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  6. Whilst they are hardening, set your oven to 180°C / 350°F.  Spread out half of your remaining coconut on the tray and toast it in the oven.  This should only take a few minutes, keep an eye on it.  When the coconut is golden brown, remove it from the oven, allow it to cool and mix it with the rest of the un-toasted coconut.
  7. Also whilst the macaroons are chilling you can melt your chocolate over a pan of gently boiling water.
  8. When it is time to remove the macaroons from the freezer, you need to work quickly.  So, set up your assembly line.  First is the macaroon, then the chocolate, then a plate with the coconut.  I like to keep the chocolate over the pan so that it doesn’t harden whilst I work.  Not of course on the heat of the stove, but on my work surface, which allows the residual heat from the water to keep the chocolate at the right consistency.  Be careful however, it is hot.
  9. Dip and coat each macaroon first in chocolate then cover in coconut and set back on your plate with grease proof paper.
  10. Once they are all evenly covered, leave to harden.  I like to put them in the fridge.

Tips and Variations

  • The quantities in this recipe are quite difficult to pin down to exact amounts.  For the quantities of icing sugar it depends on how ‘wet’ your potatoes are for example.  Or with the quantity of chocolate, this can depend on how thickly you cover your macaroons, and of course the size you make them.
  • There are many types of macaroons.  Recently the French version has become very popular, there is also an English version which uses coconut, but with egg whites.  These are Scottish version of macaroon that I grew up with.
  • Try adding a splash of whisky, brandy or rum to your melted chocolate, for a grown up version.  Just a splash though, as you want the chocolate to set hard.
  • The macaroons will keep for about 10 days to 2 weeks in a dry cool place.  I normally line a tin with greaseproof paper and keep them that way.
  • If the chocolate should get too thick and gloopy whilst you are coating, just return to the heat for a minute or two to melt it again.  You can’t do this too many times as it will affect the chocolate.  If the macaroons get soft when you are working, you can put them back in the freezer for a few minutes.  The best way though, it to be organized with your production and to work quickly, without distractions.

Scottish Macaroons

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Fourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’m bucking the trend!  I should be posting healthy low fat, low cal recipes for you, but, this year I don’t feel like following the crowd and am posting a recipe which is very indulgent.  I made three times over the festive season.  Each time I made it I thought “I really should do something different”, but it ended up being this silky smooth chocolate cake every time.  I consider it one of the perks of the cook, I make what I want, and my guests have to eat it!

I can’t take credit for this recipe, it was originally by Richard Sax, then Nigella Lawson published it.  Nevertheless, I wanted to share it as it is a really good recipe in the sense that it works very well – so many recipes are written badly – this one is fail safe.  And, flourless chocolate cakes are my favourite type, I just don’t want to be distracted from the chocolate flavour or its melting quality by any unnecessary ingredients like silly old four.

Ingredients for 8 to 12 Servings

For the Cake
250gr dark bitter chocolate – 70% cocoa is best
125 unsalted, softened butter (just leave it outside the fridge for about 20 mins to soften)
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
175gr caster sugar
2 x tbsp Marsala wine (optional)

For the Topping
500ml Cream
1 x tsp vanilla extract
Or
500ml marscapone
2 x tbsp icing sugar (or to taste)
1 x tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Line the bottom of a 23cm baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Break the chocolate into quite small pieces, and chop or rip up the butter into a heat proof bowl.  Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and allow the chocolate and butter to melt.
  4. Beat the 2 whole eggs with 4 egg yolks with 75gr of the sugar until it is evenly mixed together.  I just use a wooden spoon for this, it usually takes about 2 minutes.
  5. Whisk the remaining egg whites with the rest of the sugar until it becomes fluffy white foam.  This will take a few minutes with an electric mixer.
  6. Once the chocolate and the butter has melted, give it a quick mix through with a spatula, just a few turns to bring it together.  It’s not a good idea to play with melted chocolate too much as it can become grainy.
  7. I like to remove the melted chocolate from the heat and put it on a cool surface before introducing it to the eggs, just to avoid any form of scrambling!  I do this normally while I whisk the egg whites.
  8. Add the chocolate and butter mix to the egg yolk and sugar mix, stirring through with the Marsala (should you chose to use it) until evenly incorporated.
  9. Add a large spoonful of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to loosen it a little, stir through. Then add bit by bit the egg whites in 3 or 4 stages, folding either with a metal spoon or a spatula, the eggs into the mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
  10. Pour your mix into the baking tray and bake in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes (check after 30).  The cake is ready when it is no longer wobbly in the centre.
This is the cake straight from the oven, cracked and puffed up.

This is the cake straight from the oven, cracked and puffed up.

 

 

The Cake will sink after a few minutes giving a "crater" that you can fill with topping.

The Cake will sink after a few minutes giving a “crater” that you can fill with topping.

Tips and Variations

  • You can swap the Marsala for Madeira or Cointreau and add a little orange zest too.
  • I very often make this cake without any sort of topping.
  • The cake will come out of the oven quite risen and it will fall, don’t worry, this is what it is supposed to do.  Should you choose to top with any of the suggested creams, this will cover up the dip.  It will also be cracked, but this is, as is the sinking element of its character which is related to its soufflé quality.
  • I very often serve this cake with a little drizzle of pouring cream.
  • You can keep the cake for a couple of days, untopped (I keep it outside the fridge in a cool place).  It is best served straight away though.

Chocolate Mousse Recipe

This has to be one of my easiest dessert recipes.  Great to make a little in advance and produce from the fridge to a grateful and suitably impressed table of guests (or just for yourself!)

Ingredients for 6 to 8 servings
250gr good dark chocolate( 70% cacao) broken up into small pieces.
30 gr butter
350ml single cream
2 x large egg whites and 1 x large egg yolk
2 x tbsp of honey

Method

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate slowly in a heat proof bowl over gently simmering water.  When it has melted sit the bowl on a cool surface for a couple of minutes.
  2. Whisk up the cream in a bowl until it reaches soft peaks.
  3. In another bowl whisk the egg and honey until it becomes light and airy.  This is the stage to add any accompanying flavours – see tips section.
  4. Add the chocolate and cream to the egg and honey mix, folding in so as not to lose the air. Do this in 2 or 3 stages.
  5. Pour into the bowls or glasses you wish to serve the mousse in, and place in the fridge to set.  This will need minimum one hour (up to the day before)

Tips

  • You can get creative with adapting the flavour of this basic chocolate mousse mix.  I tend to adapt it to things I am serving it with for example a liqueur or coffee or fruit  Here are some of the things I like to add:
    • Vanilla extract
    • Grandmanier
    • Rum
    • Hazelnut liquer – dress with a few toasted hazelnuts
    • Amaretto
    • Whiskey liqueur (favourite is Glayva)
    • Orange zest
    • A little strong espresso

Rembember with these flavourings, a little goes a long way.

  • To keep the calories down, you can serve the mousse as a dressing.  If you choose a fruit in season like oranges, raspberries, or strawberries, just serve these in a bowl and dress with a spoonful or quenelle  of the mousse on top.

Notes

  • There are many versions of chocolate mousse recipes, however, I find this one of the easiest to make and I like it in that it is more luxurious. 
  • Chocolate mousse is a great dinner party dessert as you can prepare it beforehand, and everyone gets their own portion.
  • The quality of the chocolate is important.  Please stay away from any products that say they are “baking” chocolate as the taste is often not so pleasant.  The important factor is the high cocoa percentage.