NEWTREE, a recently opened Belgian Chocolate cafe in San Francisco. I love Newtree Chocolate, especially the NEWTREE Lavender Chocolate. Be sure and add your email address to enter. Thanks, John, for this delicious guest post! You'll love the subtle flavor of the lavender in this mousse, and the secret kick at the end of the recipe--and in your mouth.
***GIVEAWAY--NEWTREE is offering 3 bars of its fabulous Lavender Chocolate to one person who comments below. You'll be able to make this mousse--or you can always eat the NEWTREE CHOCOLATE***
CHEF JOHN HUTT:
My name is John Hutt, and I am lucky enough to be the chef at NEWTREE, a Belgian chocolate café in the heart of downtown San Francisco. We strive to offer deliciously healthy and interesting alternatives in a city that I consider the best spot in the world to be a chef because of the wide range of local ingredients available at my fingertips.
This is especially poignant to me because I came to San Francisco from Scotland where the potato is the finest crop available and the weather is freezing cold all the time. Prior to being the chef at NEWTREE, I worked at a variety of restaurants in the US and Europe. My chef career began in an effort to support my ponderous literary career, where I found out it was much easier to make money creating delicious food for people than getting my avant-garde play published. Although both careers are equally rewarding, they are not as dissimilar as one would think with the level of creativity, curiosity and restraint required.
Now on to the chocolate. Our Belgian founder, Benoit de Bruyn was passionate about having a mousse on the menu before our café even had a location. The perfect mousse is a balance between rich, intense flavor and a texture that disappears almost immediately as it hits your tongue. Benoit is acquainted with a French chemist, Hervé This (the father of molecular gastronomy) who came up with a recipe using only water and chocolate. As a chemist himself, this appealed to Benoit and was an innovation we could use to make a healthier mousse (it was also the impetus for our dark chocolate spreads that contain no oil). We then decided on the Provençal flavor of lavender from Benoit’s European roots to put our own spin on this dessert favorite.
LAVENDER CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Ingredients (we use all organic & local whenever possible):
3 fresh eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
3 bars (2.82oz) of NEWTREE Lavender chocolate
1 vanilla pod
a whisk, 2 small bowls, 2 mixing bowls, small pot for boiling water, an electric mixer (or good arm muscles)
First, an overview: basically what we are going to do is make a creme anglaise and add melted chocolate to it, then fold in egg whites to give an airy texture. Creme anglaise is a preparation that pastry lovers will stand in good stead. At our café, we add interesting herbs and spices to make unique versions of classic dishes. I like to put ginger and cayenne in for a savory creme brulee; this lavender chocolate mousse is another example.
To start, separate the eggs into two small bowls. Create a double boiler - fill the pot half up with water and place your mixing bowl on top. To prepare the creme anglaise, stir the milk and sugar together in the mixing bowl on low to medium heat and let the mixture get hot enough for the sugar to dissolve.
Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape the insides into the milk/sugar mixture and stir. Remove the mixing bowl from the heat and add the egg yolks, whisking constantly until combined.
Return the bowl to the pot over low heat and stir, stir, stir. You are making custard; it should become thick and coat your whisk. A good way to test if you have the correct consistency is to gently tap the surface of your custard - if the whisk leaves an imprint, it's time to take it off the heat.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to the warm custard. Whisk! Continue thoroughly mixing the chocolate into the mixture until it's a homogeneous color and consistency. Set this to one side to cool (you have made chocolate pudding at this point).
Next, put your egg whites in your electric mixer on a vigorous setting (4 out of 8 for example). You will see the whites begin to foam up and thicken, but keep going until it has the look of the top of a bubble bath with very tiny bubbles. It needs to be stiff and you should be able to pick it up with your whisk.
Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, slowly and gently fold the egg whites into it until a uniform color and texture is achieved.
Pipe or spoon into cups and place in the fridge for a few hours to set. I like to add a little port, brandy, sherry, or even whisky, to the bottom of the cup and add the mousse on top. A little fiery bite at the bottom of a soft, sweet mouthful is divine.
Cheers to savoring life!