I've been sleeping with scissors next to my bed lately. Not for fear of intruders, but because I've finally set myself the task of dissecting the stacks of food magazines that have sprung up haphazardly throughout my apartment over the past few years. One person's mess is another's source of inspiration, and I'm taking great pleasure in flipping slowly through these magazines, clipping recipes that catch my eye and absorbing articles I had only skimmed the first time.
One of these was a feature on chocolate in Régal, which until its ill-judged makeover a couple of months ago was a magazine I devoured cover to cover the moment it landed in my mailbox (I cancelled my subscription when I learned that the powers that be at Uni-Editions had ditched its brilliant editor Julien Fouin, along with most of the contributors). Among the recipes was one for chocolate mousse with fleur de sel, which reminded me of the remarkable way that salt can accentuate the character of good chocolate. It also made me wonder why it had been so long since I last made chocolate mousse, a dessert that everyone adores.*
As far as chocolate mousse recipes go, this one is not too extravagant: it contains only a little butter and the original recipe called for no sugar at all, though I added 1/4 cup as this seemed a little austere. Given the small number of ingredients the quality of each one is crucial, so I used Barry chocolate (Valrhona would be excellent too), free-range eggs fresh from the farm, unsalted Normandy butter and the fleur de sel I had brought back from the Ile de Ré. The Régal recipe suggested using salted butter, which you could do if you happen to live in France and can buy Breton butter with salt crystals at the supermarket.
Though the effect of the salt was fairly subtle, it definitely added a sophisticated grown-up touch to this French childhood dessert - which didn't stop Sam from polishing off more than an adult's share. Try to make it several hours in advance to achieve the slightly chewy texture that seems to me essential in any chocolate mousse.
Chocolate mousse with fleur de sel
5 extra-fresh eggs
7 11/2 oz high-quality chocolate, at least 55 per cent cocoa solids (200 g)
2 oz butter (50 g)
A pinch of fine sea salt
2 oz white sugar (50 g)
Fleur de sel
Chop the chocolate with a large knife and melt it with the butter in a bowl over simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks one by one into the chocolate-butter mixture. In a mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until fairly stiff, adding the sugar towards the end.
Whisk 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Transfer to a large bowl or several small serving dishes. Chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably 4-5 hours. Sprinkle with a pinch of fleur de sel before serving.
* If you're nervous about eating raw eggs, I suggest using the best eggs you can get your hands on, preferably free-range and organic. Most importantly, they should be extremely fresh.
7 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
I love that you've been sleeping so dangerously!
You've convinced me. We have people coming for dinner on the weekend and this might just fit the bill. I haven't made it for years! But I must say, it's such a favourite.
Where will you put your clippings, I wonder?
Lucy, the scissors need to go - I don't think they are very feng shui.
I would love to hear about how it went if you did make the chocolate mousse!
For the moment I've just thrown all the clippings into one file, but at least it means I know where to find them!
I am crazy about chocolate with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Pierre Herme's Chocolate Kordova cookie is one of my favorites.
I've often read about this combination of chocolate and fleur de sel, but have never had the opportunity to divulge. a run to the local gourmet store for some fleur de sel sounds like it may be in order. thanks for the recipe.
Teryll, I'm not sure I could (happily) live without fleur de sel! You will find all sorts of uses for it, I'm sure - I love to sprinkle it on any vegetable, raw or cooked.
You can buy salted Breton butter (which I love) in very limited U.S. markets. Fleur de sel pairs so well with many sweet flavors, why not this luscious chocolate dessert, too?