Lockdown has intensified my search for treats that can be scaled down to quantities suitable for two. I really enjoy having a cake or dessert at the weekend, but so many recipes are designed for six or eight people and are tricky to make in smaller portions. However delicious something is, one doesn’t necessarily want to eat it three or four days in a row (quite apart from the impact on one’s waistline!).
Chocolate mousse is ideal – the quantity can easily be scaled up or down, it is quick to make and feels like a luxurious treat. The first recipe I learned when I was a teenager used only chocolate and eggs. I have since tried others which include sugar (not necessary), cinnamon (not an improvement in my book) or cream (which I prefer to serve alongside, leaving the mousse rich and dark). However, I think the addition of coffee in this recipe works really well, giving a deep, intense flavour.
Like many of us, I have been clearing out old files during lockdown, including my over-stuffed recipe folder, and found this recipe, which I had cut out of the newspaper. I hadn’t written any reference on it (tut, tut), but from the tone and the font I think it’s a Nigel Slater recipe from the Observer.
I used espresso powder, as I don’t have an espresso machine, but you could use 1 tbsp of espresso plus 1 dstsp of hot water if you make espresso at home.
For 2, in or out of lockdown
- 60g good 70% dark chocolate
- 10g butter
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder
- 25ml very hot water
- 1 large egg
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Put the espresso powder into a heatproof bowl with the hot water and stir until it is dissolved. Sit the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water, and add the chocolate and butter. Push any lumps of butter or chocolate under the liquid, but avoid the temptation to stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted. Then stir once and take it off the heat.
Separate the egg, and beat the egg white to soft peaks. Use a finger to check that the chocolate mixture is just warm, then beat the egg yolk lightly and mix it into the chocolate with two or three stirs. Finally, fold in the egg whites slowly and firmly with a metal spoon, without knocking out all the air you’ve just beaten in.
Spoon the mixture into after-dinner coffee cups or small glasses, cover with cling film and chill for at least a couple of hours. Savour with a teaspoon, and a little cream or an almond biscuit on the side if you wish to gild the lily.