Categories
Baking Chocolate Cooking Food Recipes

An Incredibly Simple Chocolate Mousse Recipe (It’s about as healthy as something chocolatey can get!)

I am somewhat infamous amongst my friends and family for my chocolate obsession (it’s not hard to see why). As a result, my friends often send me chocolate-related recipes by email, Facebook etc. I am always grateful for these messages from them, if nothing else because it means they thought of me. But last week, my friend Zoe posted a link for a chocolate mousse recipe on my Facebook timeline that has entirely changed the way I look at chocolate!

When I first saw the recipe, I thought it seemed too simple to be true. Despite my skepticism, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a try sometime in the near future. As it turned out, I woke up today to find I was out of the Cointreau chocolate truffles I recently made, so, desperately needing my chocolate fix, I decided to try the mousse recipe out. The method employed in this recipe was invented by Herve This, who is a French chemist and, well if you ask me, also a French magician! It turns out this truly is a miracle method/recipe! I am not just being hyperbolic; I mean it. Here’s why:

1. The basic recipe has only has two ingredients: chocolate and water.

2. Although this point is essentially redundant given point 1, I just want to emphasize the fact that the recipe does not call for cream, butter or sugar! So it is pretty low-fat and healthy, for a chocolate mousse recipe.

3. The process is fairly simply, all it needs is a bit of whipping.

You’re amazed aren’t you? Well give it a go, I promise it’s easy and the result is delicious! But before I go on, I just want to add a little caveat to all this. I say this recipe is low-fat because it doesn’t call for cream, butter etc. Having said that, it is still a chocolate mousse recipe. Even though it contains only chocolate and water, chocolate, even dark chocolate contains quite a lot of calories. So this mousse is still considerably more fattening than say just eating some fruit for dessert. So eat it in reasonable quantities.

(I know, I know, you’re calling me a hypocrite now, but YOU, my dear reader can, and should, aspire to a healthier, more sane lifestyle than I adopt, surely!)

I used Heston Blumenthal’s recipe as a base but changed the quantities a little, and added Cointreau for a little extra oomph. Here are the instructions for my version:

Equipment:

1 Saucepan

1 large bowl and 1 smaller bowl

Ice

A whisk

Ingredients:

250g good dark chocolate (I used Godiva chocolate with 72% cocoa solids)

220 ml water

2 tbsp Cointreau (you could also use Grand Marnier)

Cocoa powder and finely grated orange peel for decoration

(The exact quantity of water that you will need varies a little with the room temperature in the room and ice bath, and the particular chocolate you use, so you might have to tweak these measurements. Once you try the recipe out, you’ll get a sense of it and you might find you need to add another tablespoon of water, or reduce the water in the recipe by a bit.)

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine bits with a large knife. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt easily when you heat it. Chocolate burns easily, so you’ve always got to be careful when melting it.

Take the larger bowl and fill it with ice and cold water. Place the smaller bowl in this bigger bowl on top of the ice. The bottom of the smaller bowl should rest on the ice.

Next pour the water into a saucepan, place the pan on the stove and turn on the heat/flame to low. Now add the chocolate and Cointreau. With the whisk begin mixing the chocolate, liqueur, and water. Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the small bowl sitting in the ice-bath. Start whisking the chocolate fairly furiously. It will slowly thicken.

Watch the video below to get an idea of how much to whisk it and when to stop (the whisking bit is from around 1.15 to 1.45).

It’s important not to overdo the whipping; if you do, you won’t end up with a mousse-like consistency. I made that mistake the first time around 😦 and I ended up with a dry mess that looked like this:

If you overdo it, you can melt the chocolate again and repeat the whipping process.

When you have the right consistency, you should stop whisking immediately and serve the mousse. I used an ice cream scoop to gorge some out and then served it on a plate like this- lightly dusted with cocoa on top:

Another option is to scoop into little serving bowls like this. Again, I dusted the top with cocoa powder and then garnished with finely grated orange peel. I’ll probably take of the orange bits before I eat it though, so this is a purely decorative addition.

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Cooking Food General Recipes

Basic Dark Chocolate Truffles

So by now, I think it is fairly obvious that I love chocolate. However, truth be told, I’ve become sick of all the usual chocolate you can buy at the drug-store or supermarket- the likes of Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cadburys etc. I even, to be honest, am sort of over store-bought hazelnut butter- a.k.a. Nutella.

No hell has not frozen over, and no I have not been kidnapped by someone who is now pretending to be me on my blog so people don’t report me missing (if you are someone who is considering kidnapping me by the way, this tactic will never work, I talk to my parents and some close friends virtually everyday, so I would be reported missing if I didn’t answer my phone in 2 hours max.) “But Nutella is AWESOME” you exclaim or if you’re my mother or father, which you probably are if you’re reading this, you heave a sigh of relief, because until now you thought I was going to develop heart disease and diabetes and god knows what else at the very tender age of 29.

But don’t get too excited dear parents, I am NOT giving up chocolate. I am saying I am over this store-bought stuff because it’s too sweet and frankly not very good chocolate. If I could, I’d go eat pralines and truffles from Soma (this amazing chocolate store in the distillery district in Toronto) or Leonidas or Patchi or some other chocolate store that knows what they’re doing. BUT, the problem is, I couldn’t possibly afford to- considering how much chocolate I guzzle on a daily basis and considering I am but a poor doctoral candidate.

NOW I finally have the solution to this problem. Handmade, homemade truffles! And now that I’ve figured out how to make them, I simply cannot understand how I was ever able to eat that rubbish they call chocolate in supermarkets and drugstores.

In addition these truffles are the answer to my goldilocks-type problem with chocolate. My problem with most dark chocolate is that it’s not as creamy as milk chocolate; my problem with milk chocolate is that it isn’t chocolatey enough. Happily, one of the things that makes truffles magical is that they can be rich, creamy and smooth and ALSO have a strong chocolatey flavour.

If you’d like to discover true happiness as well, keep reading, because what follows, is a detailed narrative of how to make basic dark chocolate truffles.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food proccessor

2 medium sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment sheet or foil

Little paper cups to put the truffles in

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

A dollop of butter (at room temp)

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp vanilla essence

A few tbsp of Cocoa powder

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt when you pour in the hot cream.

Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl. Next, get the half cup of cream just to a boil and immediately turn off the heat and pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich.

Add the dollop of butter, vanilla essence and salt and mix gently. Place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour, until it firms up. In the meantime take out the plates and place two sheets of parchment or foil on them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or foil. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Place the plates in the fridge again for about 15 mins. Take the truffles out when they’re firmed up again and roll them about in your hand until they’re more or less spherical, then place them back on the parchment. You can also try to shape them as tear drops- but good luck with that, it’ll take patience. This part of the process is so much fun! I love it because the chocolate looks and smells delicious. I would recommend washing your hands periodically in between, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands.

Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Then place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Mmmm they will taste delicious. You can put them in the fridge for two weeks or more, but take them out a few hours before you serve them- so that they’re at room temperature.

These basic truffles were so good, that I’ve tried quite a few variations too, such as, dark chocolate truffles with hazelnut butter-cream filling; truffles with a hazelnut centre that are coated with toasted, crushed hazelnuts; and dark chocolate truffles with a hint of orange. I will post pictures and recipes of these variations soon!

Categories
Cooking Food Indian Cooking Recipes

Buttery Rajma (Kidney Beans) with Rice

Indian Kidney Bean Curry RecipeI woke up this morning, ok I lied, I woke up this afternoon with a craving. I really wanted to eat some Rajma Chaval. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this dish, it’s a staple all over India. Although, it’s primarily a North-Indian dish, I know plenty of South-Indians who love the stuff. It’s sort of like a dal (what some of you non-Indians call lentil curry) made with red kidney beans. Rajma refers to these beans and chaval (or chawal) simply means rice.

This is a very simple dish, it’s comfort food really. If you’d like to try this recipe out, here goes:

Ingredients:

1 cup dried kidney beans (see below for how to prepare these beans, you need to prepare them at least 7 hours before you start cooking)

1 tablespoon Ghee (Indian clarified butter) or oil (you can find ghee in an Indian store; if you’d like to make it at home, here is my recipe)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1-2 teaspoon grated ginger

1-2 teaspoon crushed garlic

2-4 Indian green chillies (I used dried red ones because I couldn’t find green ones in my neighborhood store)

2-4 Bay leaves

2-4 Cloves

1 pinch of Heengh (asafetida)

1 large onion or two small onions, finely diced. (red or white)

2 small tomatoes, or 1 large tomato, pureed or finely chopped (choose depending on whether you like small chunks of tomatoes in the rajma, some do, some don’t)

1-2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon haldi (turmeric)

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

Lots of butter 🙂

Some cream (optional)

Coriander as garnish

Note: For some of the ingredients I haven’t listed a precise quantity because it’s really up to you how spicy you want to make the dish. You might also like one spice better than another one, so you pick and choose how much you want to add within the range I specified (you can of course add even more than the upper-limit of my range, but then I can’t speak to how the dish will turn out, since I’ve never tried it that way).

Also, I am using Canadian vegetables. Onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger etc taste different in different countries and regions; they also come in varying sizes. You’re going to have to experiment a little and you may find that you have to tinker with the measures I have recommended.

Preparing the beans: Soak the Rajma in plenty of water (at least tree times as much water as beans) overnight or for at least 7 hours. This soaking is important; if you don’t soak the beans, they won’t be soft enough and the final product won’t taste as good. There are allegedly short cuts to this, but I personally don’t believe they can produce the same results.

The next step is to cook the beans. Here’s a little tip, don’t use the water the beans were soaking in, to cook them. This water contains ‘oligosaccharides’ released from the beans, and they cause.. eerm.. well..eerm flatulence! If you don’t follow my advice, there is always this yoga pose:

(Image by The Holistic Care Yoga Wiki. The above image is CC licensed, for more information go here.)

So anyway, back to the recipe. With fresh water, pressure cook the beans until the cooker whistles about 4 times. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can simply boil them, it’ll just take longer. If you’re cooking them in a pot with water, the beans will be done when you can take one out and squish it between your fingers. I suppose you could use canned beans instead of going through all this trouble, but I am somehow not a big fan of things in cans. I feel, and obviously this is subjective, that beans from a can don’t taste as good as beans that have been soaked and cooked.

Method:

We’ll start with one tbsp of ghee/oil in a deep, preferably thick-bottomed sauce pan that comes with a lid. Lay aside the following spices:

Spices needed for the Rajma RecipeLet the ghee/oil get got, then add 1 tsp of cumin seeds. The heat should be on high at this point. Wait for the seeds to begin splutter. Now add the bay leaves, cloves chillies and heengh.

When the red chillies change colour add the onions. Saute them until the become soft and brownish (as seen in the photograph below). Then add the chopped tomatoes (or puree). Next, add the red chili, turmeric, coriander, and cumin powders.

Stir well, put a lid on the pot and let the mixture cook on low to medium heat for about 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime take a few tablespoons of the cooked beans in a separate bowl and mash the beans up a bit. Once the tomato-onion-spice mixture has cooked for a while and the raw tomato smell has gone, add the cooked beans along with the mashed beans to the mixture. Then add as much butter as you think you can get away with (without feeling guilty) and stir well. Place the lid back on the pot and let the mixture cook on low for about 20-40 minutes.

The Rajma is ready! You can serve it on top of hot steaming rice, add a bit of cream (if you like) and then garnish with coriander leaves.

As I said before, this isn’t a fancy dish at all- it’s a simple recipe that reminds me of home.