When I was 18, some friends from university and I used our student loans to hop on the Eurostar and visit Paris for the first time. One evening we ate in a tiny little bistro somewhere in the 15th arrondissement. A small cramped room it might have been, but it had the best atmosphere. For dessert we ordered a chocolate mousse, and instead of an individual portion, we were presented with a huge bowl of mousse and were instructed to help ourselves – a great end to a brilliant meal.
250g dark chocolate (60-70 per cent cocoa solids), finely chopped
60g unsalted butter
60ml strong black coffee
4 large eggs, separated
50g caster sugar
2 tablespoons Amaretto, rum or brandy (optional)
whipped cream and crushed amaretti biscuits, to serve (optional)
Put the chocolate, butter and coffee in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Leave the chocolate and butter to melt, stirring occasionally. Once you have a smooth mixture, remove the bowl from the heat. In a large separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the caster sugar together for 5 minutes or until the yolks are pale and thick. Add the rum, if using, and whisk to combine.
Put the egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl and, using an electric mixer, whisk until they hold stiff peaks. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix to combine. Working in three additions, carefully fold in the egg whites using a spatula, folding until you can no longer see any streaks of white. Pour the mousse into a large serving bowl or divide among 6-8 serving glasses. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Serve topped with a little lightly whipped cream and some crushed amaretti biscuits if you wish.
This dessert will keep for up to four days stored in the fridge.