Eons ago, in the days of my misspent youth, I passed a couple of summers waiting tables at waterside restaurants in the bohemian enclave of Provincetown, a village on the tip of Cape Cod. I remember watching, amazed, when I first saw a chef fold beaten egg whites into melted chocolate on the way to chocolate mousse. At the time, my culinary knowledge was rudimentary, and making mousse seemed a mark of great sophistication. Years have passed, and I confess to having made chocolate mousse that way a few times myself. Consulting Julia Child, whom I consider to be the authority on such matters, I see that her recipe for mousseline au chocolat calls for very fine sugar, egg yolks, orange liqueur, semi-sweet chocolate, strong coffee, butter and egg whites. It’s not all that complicated to make, but then neither is my vegan version, and the only ingredient our recipes have in common is chocolate. Search out the best premium unsweetened chocolate you can find. I buy Ghirardelli’s 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate at my local supermarket. Three friends who joined me for dinner gave this creamy, rich dessert a hearty thumb’s up. The secret here is the use of agar agar, which adds lots of volume and almost nothing in the way of fat or calories. This recipe makes eight servings, but you could easily cut it in half. Garnish it anyway you like, but I kept mine vegan by using coconut cream, the thick part only of canned coconut milk, whipped with a fork and sweetened with just a few drops of maple syrup. And raspberries, I’m sure you’ll agree, are never wrong with chocolate. Full recipe after the jump.
Photos: A Chocolate-Almond Mousse so rich and creamy your guests will never guess it’s vegan, garnished with coconut cream, raspberries and toasted, sliced almonds.
VEGAN CHOCOLATE-ALMOND MOUSSE
8 generous servings
4 cups vegan milk, almond, rice, or soy
1 3/4 bars agar agar or 1/2 cup agar agar flakes
6 ounces 100% cacoa unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup additional almond, rice, or soy milk, divided
1/2 cup almond butter, or to taste
8-9 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
To garnish: thick part only of one 14-ounce can coconut milk (whip with a fork and add a tiny bit of maple syrup if you like), fresh raspberries, and a sprinkle of toasted, sliced almonds (optional).
1. In a medium sauce pan, heat the 4 cups milk and bring just to a low simmer.
2. Add the flakes or tear the bar into pieces and mix into the heated milk. Whisk together. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until all the agar agar is dissolved.
3. Pour this mixture into a shallow pan. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely firm. This should take less than an hour.
4. While the agar agar is setting, melt the chocolate. Put 1/4 cup of the milk into a small sauce pan and warm over low heat. Break the chocolate into pieces and mix into the milk. Whisk constantly while the chocolate melts. This should take only a few minutes. Set chocolate aside.
5. The final step is to purée everything together in a blender. Unless you have an oversize blender, you will need to do this in two batches. First, half the agar mixture and half the chocolate, add a couple of tablespoons of milk, purée, adding almond butter and maple syrup, tablespoon by tablespoon, to taste. Purée until smooth and creamy and the balance of flavors pleases you.
6. Chill for a couple of hours before serving with garnishes of your choice. I’m particularly fond of raspberries with chocolate, but you probably have a good idea of your own!