Last week’s olive oil lecture at Boston University (“everything you need to know about choosing and using extra-virgin”) was a sell-out and a gratifying success, but I especially enjoyed working with the dozen students of the Gastronomy Program in their wonderful big teaching kitchen. Together we pulled together a bunch of dishes to show off the versatility of extra-virgin olive oil, everything from a Greek flatbread fried in oil to a lush mousse au chocolat with olive oil and a touch of grated orange zest. Was the mousse the biggest hit? I thought so but I wasn’t certain. So I made it again for my Sunday lunch guests and you know what? I shouldn’t have waited to take a picture because in the blink of an eye, the mousse was gone!
We’re still deep in winter on Penobscot Bay, where a snowy Sunday is perfect for the dark richness of chocolate mousse.
Be warned however: the mousse is only as good as the chocolate and the olive oil that you use. For chocolate I had Scharffenberger 70% cacao; for the olive oil, I used California Olive Ranch’s Arbequina monovarietal, an oil that is lightly fruity and slightly bitter but doesn’t overpower the opulent chocolate flavors.
Mousse au Chocolat with Olive Oil
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
- 6 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons armagnac or cognac
- 2 tablespoons very strong coffee
- 4 eggs
- Optional: 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Chop or grate the chocolate to make it easier to melt and combine it in the top of a double boiler with the armagnac and coffee. Set it over simmering, but not rapidly boiling, water and let melt thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Once all the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Separate the eggs, setting the whites aside. Using a hand mixer, beat the chocolate while adding the egg yolks, one after the other, beating continuously. Still beating pour in the olive oil. When all of this is fully amalgamated into a dark, shiny, unctuous mass, beat in the orange zest if using.
Clean and dry the beaters thoroughly and then commence to beat the egg whites, first adding a pinch of salt and later, as the whites mount and firm up, the sugar. Beat until the eggs are very stiff.
Fold about a quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture and when it is thoroughly incorporated continue with the rest of the egg whites, about a fourth at a time, until all the whites have been folded in and no trace of white can be seen.
Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl or into six individual ramekins and set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to become totally firm.
The mousse may be kept refrigerated for several days but it should be thoroughly wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from picking up other refrigerator odors.