Mastering Chocolate Mousse
One of the things that made visiting my grandparents during holidays memorable, was the meal that had homemade chocolate mousse for dessert. Very rich, dark, heavenly chocolate mousse. It was always a surprise, at least in my recollection, as the chocolate mousse seemed to be created in secret by grandmother.
Many years later when visiting my grandmother I asked her for the recipe after another meal with the chocolate mousse. She went away and came back with a piece of paper from a block-calendar. I cannot remember the exact date but the year was 1952. The recipe was written by my great grandmother on that paper. It only contained a list of 3 ingredients: eggs, butter and chocolate.
There was no method at all. So I asked how to create it and I received the instructions. There are only a few simple steps:
- Separate the eggs
- Beat the egg whites
- Melt the chocolate with the butter
- Let the chocolate-butter mix cool
- Combine the egg yolks with the cooled mix
- Fold into the egg whites
- Refrigerate for 2-3 hours
After returning home I was confident that I could make chocolate mousse. I could not have been more wrong. Somehow I ended up with a solid piece of chocolate and could not really understand what went wrong. Of course, I asked what I did wrong but none of the responses resolved it. I did a few more attempts but they all failed. After that, I sort of gave up…
A few years later we had a ‘going away to Australia’ party where my grandmother was present. As this would mean that the visits with my grandmother most likely would be less, I asked for a demonstration. Me and a few other guests watched while my grandmother made the chocolate mousse.
Within 10 minutes or so we arrived at step 4 and people started to chat while waiting. Then I noticed something odd. My grandmother was casually touching the pan with the chocolate-butter mix. I asked and she said that she was checking the temperature. Like it was the most natural thing to do. So, when she said that the mix had cooled enough I manage to stop her just in time to feel the temperature myself. The next steps were completed a few minutes later and we had wonderful chocolate mousse that evening.
A seemingly simple thing – only 3 ingredients and 7 simple steps – does not mean that it is easy to execute. Something is only simple if you know what the key aspect is (temperature in this case) of making it a success. Sometimes it is a lot of practice, like with many sports. Sometimes it is getting training by an experienced person. Sometimes it is a well written instruction.
This is also what I experience in my projects, it requires a mix of techniques to help individuals and/or organisations to take it to the next level and to avoid ending up with an unsatisfying result or even giving up.