Delicate, airy, temperamental, mousses and soufflés require a gentle hand and a good whisking arm to beat your egg whites to stiff peaks. Mousse (means “foam” in French) can be both savory and sweet.
150 grams bittersweet chocolate chopped
400 ml heavy cream
3 egg whites
30 grams sugar
Procedure: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler slowly – when melted remove from stove to cool slightly. Beat the cream to soft peak stage. Beat the egg whites to soft peak stage, add sugar and continue beating to stiff peak stage. Don’t over beat the whites, please. Fold in ¼ of the stiff egg whites into the chocolate, then incorporate the rest of the whites. Next, fold in your whipped cream – incorporate fully. Cover mousse and refrigerate for at least an hour. Voila, Mousse au Chocolate!
In class, my partner Hernan and I melted our chocolate and added a little Grand Marnier to the dark melted goodness. Unfortunately, the alcohol changed the consistency of the melted chocolate to more of a frosting – that wasn’t going to work. So we started over. My mousse had a nice chocolate flavor but Chef thought it was a little dense and the texture could have been lighter. I must have over whipped my cream or egg whites.
On to Soufflés – the mere word strikes a nervous cord with some cooks since these dishes require careful preparation and a prayer to the patron saint of Chefs. We began with a Soufflé au Fromage (Cheese Soufflé) by preparing buttered ramekins dusted with breadcrumbs. We made a roux (butter and flour) added warm milk and cooked it down so it was thick. Off the heat, we added grated gruyère cheese and incorporated 2 egg yolks one at a time. Some seasoning, salt, cayenne, nutmeg then on to whipping the egg whites. Once stiff peaks have been attained, same procedure, fold in ¼ of the egg whites into the mixture, then add the rest. Spoon into prepared molds and into a 400 degree preheated oven. Once the soufflés are in the oven then drop the temperature down to 375 degrees. Puffed and golden the soufflés came out of the oven about 15 minutes later – serve immediately since they deflate quickly.
We practiced more soufflés that evening, including a chocolate soufflé and a light pear soufflé. Out of all the soufflés, my cheese and pear soufflés rose to the occasion – as for my chocolate soufflé if it had a nickname it would have been – shorty.