A few months ago, I began asking for the dessert menu along with the food menu when I dine at restaurants. It all began after several instances where, when the meal finally turned to my favorite course, I simply couldn't take another bite. Or, when the dessert of my choice simply clashed with or was too similar to the other food I'd eaten. Making selections based on an understanding of the meal as a whole makes more sense with my approach to eating.
Or maybe I just have a serious sweet tooth.
I recently learned that Americans consume approximately 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year and that 58 million pounds of chocolate are purchased in the week of Valentine's Day. That's incredible, even by my standards.
Mousse is one of those perfect desserts for anytime - decadent, but airy. When Kristen Murray of Måurice, the sweetest luncheonette in downtown Portland, proposed to make chocolate mousse for a project celebrating Tony's Chocolonely and slave-free chocolate, I couldn't wait to see what she came up with. Mixing dark and milk chocolate, Kristen created a mousse with a rich, creamy texture, topped with beet-poached lady apples, tempered chocolate with wild rose petals, and a generous dollop of whipped cream. Simply divine.
When I realized just how much chocolate is being consumed each year, I understood more clearly that the source of chocolate is just as important as how delicious it is. Because when someone puts as much effort into planning their eating choices and dessert selection as much as I do, there isn't much reason not to include ethical sourcing in the list of priorities.
For the month of February, I've partnered with Tony's and two of Portland's fantastic pastry chefs to bring you not only recipes, but the opportunity to taste desserts made with 100% slave-free chocolate at two restaurants in town. Don't miss the recipe with Nora's semolina chocolate chunk fritters. If you're in Portland, you can taste Kristen's chocolate mousse all month long at Måurice and at home with the recipe below. Find the full list of Not Just Dessert recipes here.
Recipe by Kristen Murray
1 litre heavy cream
35 g cocoa nib
375 g milk chocolate bar, chopped finely
375 g dark chocolate bar, chopped finely
9 egg yolks
250 g fine sugar, separate out 75 g and 175 g of sugar into two bowls
fine sea salt
toppings, such as extra toasted cocoa nibs, wild rose petals, candied kumquats, seasonal berries, or poached apple or pear
Heat oven to 325 F. Spread cocoa nib on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool slightly, then crush in a mortar and pestle.
Slowly warm cream in pot on stove. Add toasted cocoa nibs to cream and let infuse for 20 minutes. Refrigerate cream and cocoa nibs for at least 24 hours.
Next day, whip cream to medium firm. (Do you remove and discard the cocoa nibs?)
Combine dark and milk chocolate in a double boiler. Place the bowl over a small pot filled halfway with water over medium heat, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. When the chocolate begin to melt, stir until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on the low setting while slowly adding in 75g of sugar.
In a small pot, add the remaining 175g sugar and 25-35 g water. Measuring with a candy thermometer, heat sugar and water to 250 Fahrenheit. Then slowly add to the egg yolk and sugar mixture in the electric mixer. Whip till viscous with a pale yellow appearance and cool to the touch.
Fold egg and sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture in three small batches. Add a pinch of sea salt. Gently fold in whipped cocoa nib cream in three small batches.
Place in small serving cups layered with whipped cream and toppings of your choice. Grab a spoon. Enjoy!
This post was written in partnership with the wonderful team at Tony's Chocolonely, an amazing crew of people who make me seriously miss Dutch-style lunches, karnemelk and all. Thoughts and opinions are, as ever, my own.