Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rosemary Chocolate Mousse with Fleur de Sel

A few months ago, I told you about one of my favorite chocolate cakes, Gennaro Contaldo's Torta al Cioccolato e Vino Rosso. The thing that makes this cake different from other chocolate cakes is its grown-up taste. It demands to be enjoyed with a good glass of red wine, preferably the same that went into the cake. As far as I'm concerned though, the magic ingredient is not so much the wine as that humble, little sprig of rosemary which goes on top of the cake. The slight bitterness of this aromatic herb seeps past the frosting and delicately infuses the chocolate sponge. Both flavors mirror each other and instead of entering into a competition in your mouth, they become more intense.

With that same idea in mind, I decided to make a chocolate mousse today. This time though, I wanted the taste of the rosemary to be more pronounced, and to make that all even more exciting, I added some fleur de sel, a beautiful ingredient not just meant for savory dishes. While I was making the mousse, I could just imagine how all of these flavors would come together. Waiting until after dinner to sample my newest creation was not an option, so after pouring the velvety smooth mousse into my slightly oversized cappuccino cups, I let one greedy finger glide into the mixing bowl, collecting as much as it could possibly hold before disappearing into my mouth. If I tell you that this was nothing short of a culinary masterpiece, it would sound as though I was boasting, but perhaps at times like these, a little boasting is in order. Here's the recipe:

Rosemary Chocolate Mousse with Fleur de Sel

*150ml milk
*1 medium sized sprig of rosemary, needles plucked plus a few extra bits, left whole, to serve
*200g good quality, pure chocolate, broken in small bits
*250ml double cream
*80g caster sugar
*fat pinch fleur de sel and some extra to serve

Remove the needles from the sprig of rosemary. Bring milk to the boil with the rosemary and then turn heat down to a very gentle simmer. Allow milk to simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile melt chocolate au bain marie. Fill the sink with a bit of cold water. Sift the needles from the milk and add the chocolate, beating very well with a whisk. Plunge the pan into the cold water and let mixture cool for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. In a bowl, whip the cream, sugar and salt until the cream is almost stiff. Add the cooled chocolate mixture in three batches to the cream, stirring well with a wooden spoon after each addition. Pour the mousse into 4 small ramequins, or in my case, into three cappuccino cups. Add a tiny sprig of rosemary to each cup and refrigerate for at least an hour. Before serving, sprinkle each portion with another pinch of fleur de sel.