Dark Chocolate Mousse
with Candied Kumquats
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Any time you try to put a twist on a classic, you take your chances. Chocolate mousse is about as classic as dessert can get, to the point of being a near-cliché. But it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular – it’s rich (possibly the richest thing I’ve ever seen that actually doesn’t have butter in it), velvety, airy, and not overly sweet. When made with good chocolate, it’s pretty tough to beat. But hey, this blog doesn’t right itself, so when I sat down with my baskets of kumquats, I began to wonder about working those sweet little orangey delights into a chocolate dish. After some tweaking and research (there are about 2.3 trillion different mousse recipes), I ended up with something I’m quite proud of. Interestingly enough, this started out while I was researching this month’s Japanese theme. It might not seem like a Japanese recipe, but candied kumquats (called kinkan no kanroni) are a classic Japanese confection. Call the end product a Japonaise if you will – a meeting of French and Japanese ingredients and preparations.
This mousse is, of course, smooth, airy, and chocolaty. But the kumquats add a superb layer of flavour without overwhelming the dish. While chocolate and orange are great partners, the candied kumquats don’t fit into that stereotypical orange-essence flavour category. They have a distinct citrus taste to be sure, but they’ve got a depth that’s quite hard to describe. Something about them also comes across as slightly boozy (despite the total lack of alcohol), which works quite well against the base of the mousse.
I do encourage you to make the candied kumquats for this dish, as they really do make it unique. They keep for a ridiculously long time in the fridge, so you’ll have lots of time to figure out other things to do with them (or to just sneak them one-by-one until they disappear). If you can’t get kumquats, you could substitute candied citrus peel. The resulting bits embedded in the mousse will be chewier, but definitely delicious. Finally, if you don’t have any citrus, this is a great basic chocolate mousse — not too heavy, not too airy, with a nice solid set but a little bit of give.
Chocolate mousse is one of those desserts that makes everyone ooh and aah, but it’s actually quite simple to put together. The key is organization. You want to have three separate mixing bowls ready – one for your egg yolks and sugar, one for your egg whites, and one for your cream. You’ll also need a double-boiler, bain-marie, or a reasonable facsimile (a metal bowl carefully floated in a pot of water works great).
The most time-consuming part of this dish (by far) is seeding the kumquats, so I strongly recommend that you make them ahead of time. If you do, the rest of the dessert comes together in a snap.
Note that the kumquat recipe makes about 1 and 1/4 cups, so you can halve it if need be and still end up with enough for this recipe. If you do, make sure you keep a close eye on the fruit as it cooks, you want to keep everything covered in syrup. You’ll end up with a lot more syrup than you need too – this can be stored in the refrigerator and used for drinks or desserts.
A quick shout-out to the blog that helped me figure out how best to handle the kumquats – I varied my preparation method a little bit, but the basic idea comes from this great recipe from Miss Mochi’s adventures.
No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
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- 500 g kumquats
- 3.5 cups water
- 2.75 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 150 g dark chocolate
- 4 eggs separated
- 1.25 cups heavy cream (300 ml) plus extra to garnish, if you choose
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 30 g sugar (about 1 oz, or 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup candied kumquats well-drained and chopped (plus a few extra to garnish)
Cut the kumquats into quarters along the long axis (from stem to tip). Use a small knife to poke (or slice, if necessary) the seeds out of the quarters. Take special care to try to get out as many of the small seeds as possible.
Add the kumquats to the pot of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the sugar to the pot and cook until the kumquats are translucent (about 10-15 minutes).
Turn off the heat and let the kumquats stand for at least an hour, preferably overnight. (Note - this step can be skipped if time is a factor, but the flavour may not be quite as intense).
Bring the kumquats back to a boil and transfer them to a clean jar. Pour the syrup from the pot over the fruit to cover, then refrigerate. Excess syrup can also be refrigerated (add it to drinks or desserts). Kept refrigerated, the kumquats will be good for months without any appreciable change in flavour.
Chop the candied kumquats into small pieces and set aside. To ensure that they're very well drained, you can put them in a small mesh strainer or colander.
Melt the chocolate together with the salt in a double boiler or bain marie. Stir occasionally to ensure even melting.
Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a small bowl until well-combined and glossy.
In a large bowl (preferably chilled), whip the cream and cocoa powder until fairly well-set and forming small peaks.
In a separate large, non-reactive bowl, combine egg whites with a little pinch of salt and whisk to stiff peaks (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down without losing the eggs).
Remove the chocolate from the double boiler and stir in the egg yolks and sugar. Fold together with a spatula until well-combined. Stir in the cream and mix thoroughly until smooth. Fold in the egg whites and candied kumquats and gently mix/fold until the mousse is well-combined and smooth (it will look like a disaster at first, but keep folding and everything should come together). Pour into individual serving bowls and chill for at least 2 hours.
Top the individual mousses (meese?) with a dusting of cocoa powder, a few candied kumquats tossed with granulated sugar, and/or a bit of extra whipped cream. For a bit of added decadence, you can drizzle a little of the kumquat syrup over the whipped cream too. Serve chilled.