There are so many great food blogs out there that I visit regularly and that always make me hungry. One in particular that never fails to inspire is Delicious Days. I recently bought a copy of Nicole Stich's book which was released in 2008, also called Delicious Days, and I hear she's working on a second book now. Just like the blog, the book is full of beautiful photos and delectable and varied food. This green chocolate mousse is from the "sweet and irresistible" chapter where I've just marked the coffee power, coffee-topped panna cotta, to try next. The green part of the mousse is obviously the green fruit that crowns the top, but there's also a secret green ingredient hidden in the mousse itself that adds a subtle uniqueness. Extra virgin olive oil is the secret, and you would probably never guess that that's what gives the mousse a little special touch. One more element of the dessert which added sweetness and texture was chopped pieces of pine nut brittle that were sprinkled over the fruit.
I used a bar of El Rey chocolate with about 70 percent cacao, and it was chopped into chunks and melted in a double boiler. Once melted, the olive oil was stirred into the chocolate. The brittle was a simple affair of caramelized sugar to which pine nuts were added and that was poured into a flat layer and left to cool. The mousse was finished in the traditional way by adding egg yolks that had been whisked with sugar although it was raw cane sugar in this case. The egg whites were beaten until stiff with regular granulated sugar. And, last, cream was whipped. That does require three small mixing bowls, but you can use a hand mixer for the egg whites and then move it directly into the cream. You don't want to go the other way because any fat from the cream will prevent the egg whites from reaching their full volume. With everything whipped and ready, the egg yolks were added to the chocolate first, then the egg whites were folded in, and that was followed by folding in the whipped cream. The mousse was portioned into individual cups and refrigerated, and just before serving, a green apple, pear, a kiwi, and some grapes were chopped to go on top followed by broken bits of brittle.
The rich and chocolaty mousse was a divine dessert, and I found complete bliss just in licking the spoons and bowls while making it. However, the fruit and brittle topping took it to another level. The fresh, crisp flavors of the green fruits were a nice contrast to the rich, creamy layer below, and the nuts and caramel of the brittle brought sweetness and serious crunch. This is going to be a fun book to continue cooking through, and I'm already curious about what the next one will hold.