One of my mum’s best desserts was her chocolate mousse – it was out of this world, and I’ll never forget it. It was rich, luscious, thick, smooth and almost chewy in parts, and I can taste it as I am writing. I’ve tried many times to recreate Mum’s mousse, and this recipe comes closest. Here I’ve added a good glug of Irish whiskey – use the best quality you can get. I also find that instant coffee works better than stronger espresso. Serve this chilled and topped with freshly whipped cream, and I guarantee everyone will come back for more.
170 g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
170 g unsalted butter
3 tbsp good-quality instant coffee granules, mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water
4 free-range eggs, separated
2/3 cup (150 g) caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra
2 tbsp Irish whiskey (or dark rum)
Pinch fine salt
Whipped cream, to serve
Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a gentle simmer and melt the chocolate, butter and coffee in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the pan without touching the water, stirring occasionally. Carefully remove the bowl from the heat and set aside. Keep the saucepan of water simmering away.
Place a few handfuls of ice in a large bowl and half-fill with water. Set aside nearby.
Sit a heatproof bowl that will fit into the bowl of ice over the saucepan of simmering water and add the four egg yolks, caster sugar, whiskey (or rum) and 1 tablespoon cold water. Using a balloon whisk or hand-held electric beaters, whisk for about 3 minutes until the mixture thickens, becomes paler and has a similar consistency to that of runny mayonnaise. Remove the bowl from the heat and place it in the bowl of iced water. Continue to whisk for a further few minutes until the mixture thickens and cools slightly, being careful that no water accidentally gets into the mixture. Add the chocolate mixture to the beaten eggs and stir to combine.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until just stiff and frothy. Add the extra tablespoon of caster sugar and beat again until just glossy.
Using a large mixing spoon, add one spoonful of egg whites to the chocolate mix and fold it in gently. Gradually fold in the remaining egg whites, taking care not to over-mix.
Transfer the mousse to a jug, then pour into individual serving jars or glasses. Place in the fridge and chill for 3–4 hours before serving. Serve topped with a thick layer of whipped cream.