For some reason I seem to have lived in regions that produce some of the best-known chocolate in the country. In California it was See’s and Ghirardelli; in Pennsylvania, Whitman’s and Hershey; and in Massachusetts, The Baker Chocolate Company (the oldest producer of chocolate in the U.S., established here by Irishman John Hannon, who passed it on to Dr. James Baker in 1780). Let me put in a small plug for the small local chain Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, established in Massachusetts in 1956: when my sister was visiting a couple of weeks ago we stopped in at two of their stores (out of four) merely to inhale. They have a wonderful collection of vintage chocolate molds.
The author, Dédé Wilson, analyzed the ingredients from the original cookbook (the recipe first appeared in 1938). The originator, Ruth Wakefield, used Nestle’s semisweet baking bars (and the recipe is now owned by Nestle).
Now that I’ve whetted your appetite—I’m not going to give you a recipe for Toll House AKA Chocolate Chip Cookies. There are plenty around. Instead I went hunting through my own files and found a recipe for Jamocha Mousse, which was given to me by a (male!) friend many many years ago. (The same guy also introduced me to grinding my own coffee beans and to bouillabaisse, and to him I am forever grateful.)
One note about this recipe: you will see that it uses raw egg whites. If you are concerned about contamination of the eggs, you can used pasteurized egg whites (or use eggs that have been pasteurized in the shell, if you can find them).
Al’s Jamocha Mousse
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (6-7 ounces)
4 egg yolks
2 Tblsp rum (or other liqueur flavoring)
1 tsp instant coffee
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
A note re the chocolate: when I first started making this recipe, I was not particularly sophisticated about chocolate, so no doubt I used the universal Nestle’s chocolate chips. Now I have a wild and wonderful assortment of gourmet chocolate, mainly dark and bittersweet. If you aren’t into sweet desserts, you’ll probably like using those better. In this version I used three different dark chocolates: Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet chips, Ghirardelli Bittersweet, and our store brand Authentic Belgian Semisweet Dark Chocolate.
Melt the chocolate over very low heat in a double boiler (do not overheat!). I could say, use a microwave, but you’re going to have to cook your mixture in the next step anyway so you might as well use the pan.
Separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition (the mixture may look congealed at first, but have faith and keep beating). Keep the water at a low simmer and stir for a couple of minutes, to make sure the egg yolks are cooked (pay attention or you’ll get chocolate flavored scrambled eggs). Remove from heat (remove the top part from the bottom part of the double boiler).
|Chocolate, eggs and coffee|
Blend in the rum or other flavoring and the coffee. (And another note, about the coffee: it used to be that instant coffee was everywhere, including instant espresso. Not so much these days. If you have it, fine. If not, use a little strong brewed espresso, or substitute a bit of liqueur in your favorite flavor.) Whatever you use, you should have the full two tablespoons of liquid.
|Egg whites: frothy|
Beat the egg whites and salt until they are frothy. Gradually add the sugar, then beat until the mixture forms soft peaks. (And yet another note, this time about the egg whites. I’ve read that the pasteurized ones are harder to beat to a foam, so if you’re using them, add a bit of cream of tartar or lemon juice, and be patient.)
|Egg whites: peaks|
Stir a small amount of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then with a broad spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the rest of the egg whites.
|Chocolate and egg whites: just starting out|
Spoon the mousse into pretty dishes and chill.
|Ready to chill (these are espresso cups)|
When you’re ready to serve, garnish with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings (if you have any chocolate left by then!).
Makes about three cups. The number of servings will depend on the size of your dishes.
Coming June 2014. BTW, my protagonist in the Museum Mysteries, Nell Pratt, knows some very nice Philadelphia restaurants. And of course I had to test them first.