We were walking around Harris Farm Markets the other day and wandered past a giant container of Belgium chocolate mousse. Though I resisted the temptation to buy it that day, I've been dreaming about it ever since and had to make it this weekend. Chocolate mousse is such an easy thing to make, it's one of the first things my brother and I learnt how to make during our early baking experiments (the others being sticky date pudding, chocolate chip cookies, orange cake, self-saucing chocolate pudding, vanilla cupcakes and a year obsessively trying to make the perfect vanilla pannacotta). As a result I became the 'folding master' of the house, because I was the only person who had the patience to fold the cream and egg whites gently into the mixture without losing too much volume. It's kinda funny that it turned out to be a skill I use constantly these days.
I was keen to make something a little more fun than just plain chocolate mousse. I followed a pretty basic recipe for the mousse, but added a generous pinch of sea salt. It's got a rich chocolate flavour and a fluffy, cloud-like texture as you would expect and the mousse isn't really sweet at all with the dark, bitter chocolate, salt and no added sugar. It makes it the perfect mousse to pair with lots of sweet, fun toppings. If you wanted to make the mousse just on its own I'd make sure you use a less bitter dark chocolate and skip the added salt. But it's more fun (and more pretty) to add lots of toppings instead.
For the toppings I went with a simple vanilla bean blackberry compote on the bottom, rainbow sprinkles in the middle (of course), and some popping candy on top. The popping candy had an unfortunate blue tint to it, not sure why, but it was really fun to eat with the mousse. If I did them again I think I'd hide the popping candy under some fairy floss or Persian fairy floss to make it even prettier. And you could replace the blackberry compote with any other berry, or try something a little more decadent like peanut butter or dulce de leche. There are heaps of different combinations that would work really well.
I didn't really mean to jump on the dessert-in-jar bandwagon again, but I really wanted to present these mousse cups in some tall, narrow glasses and these were the best I could scrounge up at the time. But in the end it turned out to be a really fabulous way of presenting the mousse, since you could clearly see all the different layers and I could screw on the lids and bring it along to the cinema as an awesome movie snack. Imagine how great these would be if you brought it along in an esky for a picnic! I love the colourful layers that make it look like a chocolate mousse parfait.
Layered Chocolate Mousse Cups
(makes 4 large serves or 6 small serves, adapted from this recipe by Gourmet Traveller)
For the blackberry compote:
300g (about 2 cups) blackberries (frozen of fresh, I used frozen)
55g (1/4 cup) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
For the chocolate mousse:
Note: if you are worried about the raw eggs in this recipe, try this recipe instead)
180g good quality dark chocolate (50-70% cocoa, I used 70%)
3 large eggs (fresh and uncracked shells), at room temperature and separated
A pinch of salt
225ml (a bit less than 1 cup) thickened cream (heavy cream)
To decorate (optional): sprinkles, popping candy or fairy floss
Prepare the compote first (you can use any berries you like, or replace it with dulce de leche or even peanut butter if you prefer). Place berries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan and place on low-medium heat, stirring regularly. Simmer until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain seeds if you prefer. Set aside to cool.
For the chocolate mousse, carefully beat thickened cream in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer to soft peaks. Place in fridge until ready to use. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the heat and add yolks and salt and stir to combine. Fold whipped cream into mixture. Place egg whites in a separate, large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high to soft peaks. Carefully fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until combined. The mousse should be smooth and even in colour.
Spoon about 1 tbsp of cooled berry compote into the bottom of each serving glass. Spoon a layer of chocolate mousse over the top of the compote, followed by a layer of sprinkles. then another layer of chocolate mousse to finish. Chill in the refrigerator for three house or until set. Top with more berries or popping candy or fairy floss right before serving.