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Recipe Number Forty One November 2006
Chocolate Mousse

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On arriving home a few weeks ago armed with list of requested menus to print off from my old and trusty computer, all was going well as I brought up the first menu onto the screen and hit the print button.  Twenty copies please.  The Epson printer chugged into action, but only to come to a grinding halt after a few seconds.


It was around half an hour later that it became very clear that Nelly - that's the name that I had given to the computer - had sadly passed away.  It begged the question: had she been struck down by a virus? Nelly was born in 1996 and in her time she was running the accounts of a thirty-bedroom hotel, but sadly one day she was given her marching orders as she became redundant only to be taken over by a more up to date model, and that's how she came to live at Rushmore Towers.

In her time, she has served me well holding files of menus, special dinner and party menus.  All the village newsletters were tapped out on her and, of course, her real last claim to fame was she was responsible for all the files of my book “Tales of a Norfolk Chef”.  Over her last few years Nelly, of course, had a few new bits fitted to give her a bit of a boost but sadly her fate was inevitable.  On a happier note, most of her vital and still useable bits and bobs have been removed and have been gratefully received into other computers that were waiting for transplants.

Nelly the computer’s life was very long compared to many computer’s lives, being born in the last few years of the twentieth century and, of course, she was working in catering trade.  Most chefs at the time used to call those last few years around 1996 “the chocolate years”.  At last chefs had found a food product that was perfectly in tune with the English palate.  Not since the combination of prawn cocktail, rump steak and, the inevitable black Forrest gateaux days had a magic mushroom like this been found.  These last few years of the old century were the days of madness in the chocolate department.  Cigarettes were sporting health warnings but not so when it came to chocolate.  The way I like to nibble on a good quality chunk of real chocolate is to sit in a dark room in a soft chair and sipping a single malt whiskey.


When I was a lad, my dear old grandmother would have split her stays at the thought of all that chocolate and if you were ever caught eating it she would launch off into a detailed tale of the bad things that chocolate would do to you if eaten in excess.  Grandmother’s description would go on and on.  Big red boils and festering sores seemed to come up time and time again as she told her tale of woe.  I often thought that she disliked chocolate but I also remembered her liking for whiskey but that's another story…

It seemed that in the 1990s, the lust for anything gooey was offered by many restaurants throughout the land in the form of a dessert that should have carried a public health warning.  “Death by Chocolate” - yes it will have been to some poor soul as he tucked into a rich mix of thick pure chocolate and chocolate sponge topped with half a pint of double cream.  Two rivals on the dessert trolley were choux pastry topped with chocolate and an incredibly rich dessert called “Mississippi Mud Pie”. They said that if you mixed the two together then you wouldn't make it home in time - in time for what?  That's what we all wanted to know.  The few customers that did have a great old slice of each dessert, we really never saw again.

The secrets of any dish like the above mentioned desserts is in its hidden ingredients.  It's the base of “Death by Chocolate” and it is called a ganache.  You take the best chocolate you can buy, melt it slowly over warm water, add double cream and allow to cool.  Over the years, I have often thought that white chocolate may be a slightly healthier option but white chocolate seems to have its drawbacks.  It seems to remind diners of their early days in their lives and the child with milk bottled glasses, the Milky Bar Kid.

At Christmas time I make rum truffles, once again very rich and once again made with a ganache but this time flavoured with the best Jamaican Rum shaped into bite size balls and rolled in dark cocoa powder.  The problem with a very rich dessert like “Death by Chocolate” or “Mississippi Mud Pie” is in the fact that they are far too rich to end a meal with.  We in the restaurant certainly don't shy away from offering a chocolate dessert on our restaurant menu, but you have to make sure that its got the correct balance.  Yes it has to look and taste of a rich dessert.  No way do you want it to taste bland.  The dessert in question is called a “Dark Chocolate Mousse” served with Rum and Raisin Icecream. Once again, two ingredients that work well together - chocolate and rum.


Chocolate Mousee

Like anything in life that's good it is very simple.

To make this rich but very light dessert buy a block of good quality dark chocolate, break it into small chunks and place in a bowl that will fit over a small saucepan.  Put a few inches of water into a small saucepan and place your bowl containing the chocolate over it; place this over a gentle heat on your stove to slowly melt the chocolate.  While this is going on take around a pint of whipping cream, whip the cream to soft peak stage.  When the chocolate has melted, allow to cool slightly then add to the cream, stirring the chocolate and the cream well together.  Once done you can, if you wish, add a few drops of rum, pour into wine glasses and pop these into the fridge to set.  Decorate with a little swirl of whipped cream if you wish, serve well chilled

It was a few days after the loss of Nelly that I chose her replacement.  A fine looking state of the art Samsung computer. I was ensured that it was top of the range and wouldn't let me down, so the deal was done.  Although the affection that I had for dear old Nelly will never be forgotten, I think that I will call it Sam, just for a change.


Colin Rushmore

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