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John Quigley : How you can whip up the perfect mousse every time; The top chef serves up a tasty dessert.

Byline: John Quigley

Chocolate mousse

INGREDIENTS (serves 8)

250g dark chocolate with minimum cocoa solid content 60 per cent

Four egg whites

250g whipping cream

50g icing sugar

Creme Chantilly: 150g whipping cream

25g icing sugar

half teaspoon vanilla essence METHOD Melt chocolate in bowl over barely simmering water. Do not let bowl touch water and do not stir chocolate. Whip cream to soft peaks with sugar. Whip egg white to stiff peaks. Allow chocolate to return to room temperature. Fold in cream gently using spatula or wooden spoon. Add one-third egg white and mix in gently. Now fold in rest of egg white mix using cutting motion with spatula or wooden spoon. Divide between glasses. For creme chantilly, whip cream with sugar and vanilla essence to stiffish peaks and either pipe or dollop generous amounts on top of mousse and sprinkle with cocoa powder.The mere mention of the word mousse has most amateur cooks running for the Angel Delight.

But have no fear. Once you've mastered the basic steps you can't go wrong.

Cream is an essential ingredient, ideally good heavy double or whipping cream. If you under-whip the cream the mousse will have no airy qualities and if you over-whip you can end up with a curdled texture.

Eggs are another common ingredient. Use size three eggs at all times for consistency. Don't under or over-whip egg whites or over or under-cook yolks, as this can have a drastic effect on the structure of your mousse.

Gelatine is commonly used but if you're not used to working with it, avoid it. It may also offend vegetarians and certain religions because it is made from pigs' bones. Vegetarian gelatine is available in good health food stores.

Gelatine is used in mousses where the key ingredient or flavour is fairly liquid and without any structure of its own, such as a savoury spinach or watercress mousse.

Temperature is also important. Cream should always be well-chilled before and after whipping and any other ingredient added must be brought down to at least room temperature or you run the risk of splitting the cream.

The recipe above is a great starting point and when topped with whipped creme chantilly, it gives the effect of a cappuccino.

You can serve it with mini-doughnuts but cookies or shortbread are also good. Rather than serve individual mousses, set the mousse in a large bowl, bring to the table and devour.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 25, 2004
Words:406
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