There’s a wicked good friperie / thrift store near-ish to my house, with four floors of treasures, much turnover, fancy fresh curios, big city-level castoff fashion, (bakeware!), AND lots of books, which is important. I’ve slowed down a bit recently, but I spent a lot of the last year snorkelling for excellent children’s literature one dog-eared retro Seuss-ible at a time. And every trip there, on the way out, I would cast an eye toward the adult books and every single time I would find something interesting in seconds with magnet-sense. Like buying a little impulse candy bar, except something for my grownup brain to nosh on in the endless hours of nursing small baby life.
Once I found French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, which was a fun read that doubles as a rural French travelogue and also a somewhat guidebook to raising children to be little mini gourmands (ooh!), and there’s recipes! Some of the ideas are too far out for me, like I could never NOT SNACK or PREVENT TODDLER-SNACK?? (eek), but there’s lots to inspire therein and I’ll probably re-read it again once Muffin hits grade school and maybe starts desiring to eat little fruity dinosaurs and cheese poofits all day.
Le Billon writes of this chocolate mousse as one of the first slow food desserts she put in front of her daughters; a simple recipe that French families make often, calling for just chocolate, butter, eggs, and a pinch of salt. There are complex mousses out there, and I’ve made them, but honestly you don’t need to do much to good chocolate to make it into a perfect dessert. A hint of zested orange gives it a nice depth, and it has that bubbly, sticky, intensity that one desires in mousse, with almost zero work. Everyone wins! Including busy people! Chocolate dance party!
Minimalist Chocolate Mousse
Le Billon recommends approaching this recipe with calmness and focus. Gently melt the chocolate and enjoy the aroma. Lose yourself in the egg whites’ thickening. Watch the swirls of light and dark get all stormy nebulaic together. You can afford to get zen about it, it’s the work of mere blissful minutes.
- 8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet chocolate (something around 60% dark will give good results)
- 4 teaspoons (20 grams) unsalted butter
- 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
- zest of ½ orange
- pinch of salt
Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, or carefully melt it in the microwave. Let it cool, then stir in the egg yolks and orange zest and combine fully.
In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they reach stiff peaks.
Gently fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Then fold in another ⅓, and then the last ⅓ until there are just a few whispered streaks of egg barely visible. Pour the mousse into 6 waiting ramekins and chill, covered in plastic (without touching the tops of the mousse) for 2 – 3 hours. Serve with fruits, lightly sweetened whipped cream or little crisp cookies.