Thursday, May 7, 2009

The components of chocolate mousse...

I have seen a lot, maybe too much, of deconstructed food. Basically, you take the components of a popular item, for example, a black forest cake. Then you take its components and re-interpret them and-or separate them. This gives a whole new concept to what we all know as a black forest cake. Boy has this been done over and over again. I think there is nothing left to deconstruct... except the actual deconstructed product itself. What I wanted to deconstruct, actually a more accurate term would be "break down", was an actual component that is typically a part of something. In this case, a chocolate mousse. The chocolate mousse we make at work has only four ingredients: chocolate, egg yolks, sugar and heavy cream.

For the chocolate I wanted to use a method I had read about in the Alinea book. It is so simple (why did I not think of it before?), it consists of holding a chunk of dark chocolate in a warm environment to soften it completely without melting it too far. I placed a piece of chocolate inside a plate, and placed it in a dehydrator set to 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The chocolate would be soft throughout and still hold its shape. It was already on the plate so I wouldn't need to move it anywhere. I had tested this method the day before. I think it is one of the best ways to eat chocolate. It reminded me exactly of the texture of Nutella, but it was only chocolate. Slightly warm, completely smooth. Amazing.

The cream part is very straight-forward, I just whipped heavy cream with an equal amount of creme fraiche and some sugar. This was quenelled next to the warm chocolate. The intention is that when the cold cream comes in contact with the warm chocolate in your mouth it will essentially form a mousse in your mouth.
The sugar was also simple. We cooked fondant sugar with glucose, then stretched it as thin as paper. This would add not just sweetness but also texture.
The huge challenge was: how do I incorporate the egg yolk portion? You can't just put an egg yolk on the plate. How many preparations can you think of that are just an egg yolk? I could not think of any that would suit this dessert. In fact I couldn't think of any, period.
It occurred to me that it might be possible to make a meringue out of egg yolks. Traditionally a meringue is made with egg whites, everyone knows that. But I think I can honestly say that I have never heard of a meringue made with egg yolks. I had a theory: if I whipped the egg yolks (6 of them @ 20 g each = 120 g) with 200 g of sugar over a hot water bath until they reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit, I would then add two sheets of bloomed silver gelatin while warm (this would encourage the aeration of the yolks), whip it on high speed on the kitchen aid mixer to form a thick ribbon, and then I would add methyl cellulose, 1% of the total weight of the recipe, which sets when it is hot (I was going to place the whipped yolk mixture in the dehydrator set to 160 degrees Fahrenheit once it was finished whipping to its full volume thus ensuring a crisp end result).

This method actually did work beautifully. It tasted like yolk without being eggy which was my concern. It was crisp and delicate and sweet just like meringue, adding a distinct texture to the dessert. So there you have it, a broken down mousse... not deconstructed.


  1. Hey Chef! Your blog is VERY interesting, it makes me think about food in another dimension.

    have you heard about this miracle fruit? I had it in Malaysia, if you can find some, you should play around with it:

    Best Regard,