I seem to be stuck in the 1980’s lately. Last month, I made Nanaimo Bars inspired by new wave (Modern English’s I Melt with You), chocolate, and movies (Valley Girl). Today, it’s Top Secret! and chocolate mousse. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
I flip through a few recipes for little chocolate desserts like pots de creme, chocolate custard, chocolate tartlets, chocolate tortes, and chocolate mousse. Somehow it’s chocolate mousse that I cannot stop thinking about, which puzzles me. It’s not something I’ve ordered for a decade or two and until today, I’ve never made it from scratch.
There was a period of my youth when dining out meant ordering a Shirley Temple with extra cherries, shrimp cocktail, vegetable tempura, or a plate of brie and fruit as a starter, followed by a salad with hunks of bacon, chopped boiled eggs, strands of yellow cheese, and matchbook size croutons for dinner along with dinner rolls, and finally at the very end, a small teacup of chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream.
A quintessential 1984 spread also brings to mind the movie Top Secret!, an over the top comedy about Nick Rivers, a 1950’s rock ‘n roll star (think Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley) who goes on a music tour in Germany, falls in love with the heroine Hillary Flammond at a performance in East Germany, and then signs up with the French Resistance and joins the fight against world-wide Nazi domination.
Du Quois: This is Chevalier, Montage, Detente, Avant Garde, and Deja Vu.
Deja Vu: Haven’t we met before?
Nick Rivers: I don’t think so.
Du Quois: Over there, Croissant, Souffle, Escargot, and Chocolate Mousse.
To celebrate this Valentine’s Day, I’m combining zany excess with rich chocolate mousse served with brandy black currant whipped cream. It’s a bit boozy and naughty so I recommend skipping dinner and going straight to dessert.
What’s your favorite movie inspired dessert recipe?
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate2 tablespoons brandy2 tablespoons water4 eggs1/2 cup (1 stick/8 tablespoons) unsalted butter (at room temperature)Chop the bittersweet chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate, brandy, and water in a double broiler (I use a medium size metal mixing bowl over a small heavy saucepan filled with hot water and set over medium heat), stirring constantly, until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat. Separate the eggs, put the egg whites in a medium size heat proof bowl and the yolks in any small bowl.Whisk the egg yolks one by one into the chocolate mixture until well mixed. Cut the butter in pieces and whisk until smooth. Set the chocolate over hot water, if necessary, to help the butter melt. Warm the egg whites slightly over the hot water and beat them until they hold soft peaks. Fold them quickly into the slightly warm chocolate mixture. Pour into serving bowls or glasses and chill. Serve with a few dollops of Spiked Chantilly Cream.
Spiked Chantilly Creamadapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif ShereYield about 2 cups1 cups of whipping cream1 tablespoon brandy1/2 tablespoon sweetened black currant juice1 tablespoons sugar1/4 teaspoon vanillaIn a large bowl with a whisk, whip the cream into soft mounds until the volume doubles in size and the cream barely holds its shape. Stir in the brandy, black currant juice, sugar, and vanilla. Serve on top of the Top Secret Chocolate Mousse or chill until ready to use.