Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chocolate + Water = Chocolate Mousse . . . A little Molecular Gastronomy

I figure I am a Chemist, so it's time to research the hot area of molecular gastronomy that has been on fire over the past few years. I utilize my chemistry a lot with my recipe develop already to get the flavor and texture I want. Cooking is a series of chemical and physical transformations.

While researching two main figures in molecular gastronomy,
Herve This & Heston Blumenthal, I heard about making a chocolate mousse from just chocolate and water. Brilliant! Of course, chocolate is a solidified fat/oil phase with emulsifiers such as lecithin in it already! So it is possible to make chocolate mousse with no eggs, no milk, no cream, no added sugar. Brilliant! I've made lots of emulsions before. An emulsion is a stabilized mixture of two immiscible liquids where a surfactant/emulsifier stabilizes the phases. Many emulsions are oil/water emulsions, with dietary fats being one common type of oil encountered in everyday life. Examples of emulsions include butter and margarine, milk and cream, and vinaigrettes.

So I decided to try different methods, and see what it tastes like and how the texture turns out. I figured that the chocolate (oil phase) would be the continuous phase and the water would be the internal droplet phase. There are two major considerations for texture - the droplet size and the crystallization of the chocolate upon cooling.

My empirical results were as follows . . . okay, I'm sounding too much of a Chemist. It works! Awesome, rich, clean chocolate mousse using just chocolate and water. I tried 2 different methods and ended with different textures, depending on how quick it is chilled:

Herve This’ Chocolate Chantilly

200 ml or grams water
225 grams quality bittersweet chocolate (a scant 8 oz), chopped coarsely or chips

Place the water and chocolate into a small heavy saucepan over medium heat to melt. Stir the chocolate in the pan until completely melted.

Have ready two bowls, one that will sit inside the other. Into the bigger bowl, put some ice and a little water, and place the smaller bowl (preferably metal) on top of the ice bath. Pour the melted chocolate into the smaller bowl and whisk over ice - the mixture will gradually thicken and take on the appearance of whipped cream, at which point it is ready to serve. Portion it into cups. Mine were not thick enough, so I tried 2 different way to chill it - a slow chill and a fast chill.

For a lighter & softer mousse, put in fridge for at least 2 hours. For a more dense mousse, almost a pots de creme texture - place covered in freezer for 15-30 minutes, then move into fridge to set for 1-2 hours.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

P.S. I have a follow up posting to this with more in-depth research & development. Click HERE!


Anonymous said...

I tried this but it took me very long to whisk it to the desired thickness....would i have a good result also using a mixer? i know it sounds like a silly question, but still...

Anonymous said...

It's much faster and easier with a mixer...I've tried both ways and electric mixer is definately the way to go. Just make sure you keep an eye on the texture; taste it every once in a while to make sure it hasn't become grainy. And you can always melt it down and start over if it does.