Water Chocolate Mousse

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m particularly particular about my chocolate mousse. Chocolate mousse should showcase just that, the chocolate that goes into making it. Chocolate-flavoured whipped cream just isn’t going to cut it. For that reason, I’ve always omitted dairy fat from my mousse recipes. Typically I use all of 3 ingredients: chocolate, eggs, and a pinch of sugar. Well and salt too. Chocolate and salt are like two peas in a pod.

I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to simplify matters even further. Goodbye eggs, hello water. You heard right, water. The immortal enemy of chocolate. Yet despite the fact that even a whisp of steam from a double boiler can cause chocolate to split, somehow pouring boiling hot water over it and whisking like a mad man (or woman), does not. In fact it leads to quite the opposite; a silky smooth mousse that is pure chocolate to boot. I won’t blame you for not believing me, but it’s the whole-hearted truth. If you don’t try and see for yourself, I’m sorry to say you’re missing out.

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Water Chocolate Mousse
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 3-4 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. boiling water
  • 2-3 tbsp. white sugar (depending on how sweet you want the mousse to be)
  • 1 bar 85% Green & Black's Organic Chocolate
  • Maldon salt, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Whisk in the sugar until dissolved. If the mixture cools drastically microwave it briefly to bring it back to a boil.
  3. Break the chocolate into a bowl.
  4. Prepare an ice bath and have 2-3 ramekins ready to portion the mousse in to. It sets up quickly so you want to have everything you need ready to go.
  5. Pour the boiling water/sugar mixture over the chocolate. Whisk until melted and homogeneous.
  6. Place the bowl with your chocolate mixture in it into your prepared ice bath. Continue to whisk until the mixture cools and thickens. It should be the texture of stiff whipped cream.
  7. Portion into ramekins.
  8. Chill and service garnished with Maldon salt.

DSC_0021**Thank you to Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate for supplying the chocolate for this post.

Spencer Cocoa

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Given that it was recently Australia Day, it seems like an appropriate time to review some Australian chocolate. Luke and Thea Spencer are the owners and brains behind the one-of-a-kind Spencer Cocoa, and let me tell you, it is one-of-a-kind. Although they make their chocolate in Mudgee, Australia, all of the beans are sourced from Vanuatu, an island nation in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. It’s pretty common to find single origin chocolate from Madagascar, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, or even Vietnam, but when was the last time you came across a bar from Vanuatu? That’s what I thought.

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So what does chocolate from Vanuatu taste like? Spencer Cocoa keeps things simple with only 2 offerings: 42% milk chocolate and 72% dark chocolate, both of which come in 100g bars. It’s interesting how the addition of whole milk powder gives the milk chocolate its own unique flavour profile compared to the dark. You can tell that both bars are made from the same Vanuatu beans but while the dark chocolate is smoky with tobacco, cherry, and coffee notes, the milk is nutty and caramely, maintaining its “chocolateyness” without being overwhelmingly sweet. Taste-wise, I enjoyed both bars equally, but between the two, I found the texture of the dark bar to be slightly more creamy and smooth when it melted on the tongue. It’s no surprise that it was awarded a Gold Medal at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards 2015.

If you are in search of a new single origin chocolate to taste test, Spencer Cocoa is a must-try. Now that I think about it, it would make a delicious coating for Lamingtons too….

Chaleur B Chocolate

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I feel like it is my mission to make a case for Canadian chocolate as of late. If my last piece didn’t sell you on it, I think I’ve definitely got a solid argument with this one. Chaleur B is a family-run operation out of Quebec producing all of the bean to bar chocolate your heart could possibly desire. I was fortunate enough to be able to sample some recently and would be hard-pressed to pick a favourite bar. I did particularly enjoy the Ugandan beans, especially in their 50% milk bar. It was full of rich, caramel notes – the type of chocolate that makes you want to keep eating (and frankly, the smaller 40g format of Chaleur B’s bars makes it easy to justify consuming an entire one in only a single sitting).

The Madagascar bar was also solid (both figuratively and literally, unless you opt to melt it that is). You got all of the red fruit and citrus flavours characteristic of cocoa from Madagascar. Last but not least I tried the Mokaccino, studded with, you guessed it, coffee beans. Coffee and chocolate are a no-brainer combination (how often do you hear coffee described as having chocolate notes, or vice versa?), but so often it’s in the form of cheap chocolate covered espresso beans, or super syrupy mochas. Not with this bar. The makers of Chaleur B actually roast and sell coffee as well, so they know what they are doing on both accounts. All I know is that they are one of my new go-tos on the Canadian chocolate market.

If you are interested in checking out Chaleur B’s chocolate, you can order it online here.

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Sirene Chocolate

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According to research done in 2012, Canadians consume 6.4kg of chocolate per capita each year. We pale in comparison to Switzerland (11.9kg/capita) which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it still puts us in the top 10 highest chocolate consuming countries in the world. So it makes sense that the quantity, and quality of Canadian chocolate producers has increased dramatically over the past few years. Enter Sirene, a company out of Victoria, BC. I will start by saying that this is some of the best chocolate I have tasted from anywhere, ever. Even from Switzerland. And I eat what some may consider to be an embarrassingly large quantity of chocolate. Sirene is that good. And that in and of itself is an understatement.

First, I love their concept; each “bar” actually comes with 2 different bars of the same cocoa percentage, allowing you to do a side-by-side taste test of cocoa beans of differing origins. I think this is so smart. Not only are you getting people to eat good chocolate, you’re encouraging them to actually taste and think about what they are putting in their mouth. Until you compare them simultaneously, most people would never take the time to consider how different chocolate from Ecuador tastes compared to chocolate from Madagascar. When they are being tasted in different sittings, it doesn’t allow you to see how distinct they are, but when you go back and forth between them, it’s obvious. This dual-bar concept is something I hope that more companies will start doing.

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The bulk of Sirene’s cocoa beans are sourced from two countries: Ecuador and Madagascar. While the chocolate from Madagascar has notes of citrus and acidic raspberries, the chocolate from Ecuador fills your palate with nuts, specifically the taste of nut skins (think walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.) and dried fruits, like raisins. In comparison, the former is bright and fruity, while the latter is rich and fudgy. Both the 73% and 100% bars offer this Ecuador/Madagascar combination.

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I was first introduced to dark milk chocolate at Rabot 1745 in London. Like it sounds, it’s dark chocolate to which milk solids have been added. Personally I find that it’s the perfect compromise between getting the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth characteristics of milk chocolate, while still enjoying chocolate that tastes like chocolate, and not just a whack of sugar. Sirene’s 65% dark milk showcases bars from both Madagascar and Guatemala. The Madagascar was intensely citrusy, same as the other percentages from there. The Guatemala on the other hand was like no chocolate I have ever tasted; it was nothing short of phenomenal. Both the aroma and flavour are strongly reminiscent of maple, not the syrup per se, but the sap. The pleasantly piney notes, mixed with the subtly of warm spices screams Christmas. Or “wow this is incredible!” One of the two. I should note that this dark milk bar recently one first place at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle.

So here’s my suggestion to you. Go hunt down a bar of Sirene chocolate, find someone to appreciate it with, and savour it. Start a dialogue. Talk about what you are smelling, what you are tasting. See that chocolate, just like food as a whole, is an experience. And heck, if I can get Canadian chocolate that is this good, why would I want to go to Switzerland anyways?

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**I’d like to thank Sirene for graciously sending me samples of their chocolate to review here for you. You can find out where to buy Sirene chocolate in your area here.

5 gift ideas for chocolate lovers

As the holidays approach, it’s time to start thinking about what to get all of the special people in your life. Here are 5 gift ideas for chocolate lovers (or anyone really), because what’s a better gift than chocolate? Nothing? That’s what I thought.

Pana

1. Pana Chocolate

If you are looking for raw, organic, handmade chocolate, Pana has got you covered. They offer creative flavours from hemp and cacao nibs, to rose, to fig and wild orange. Or for the chocolate purists out there, they also make both 60% and 80% unflavoured raw chocolate. Also, all of their bars are made with coconut oil so they melt on the tip of your like no other.

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2. Chaleur B Chocolat

This artisanal chocolate producer operates out of Quebec, Canada, producing single origin bars from Uganda and Madagascar to name a few. Their Ugandan milk chocolate is creamy and caramely beyond belief. If you can stop without eating the entire bar, power to you.

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3. Sirene Chocolate

Sirene’s bright yellow packaging alone is enough to perk up anyways day as we enter the wintery months. Sourcing beans primarily from Madagascar and Ecuador, this Canadian company produces a variety of single origin, bean-to-bar, award-winning chocolate. You could buy it for someone else, but I won’t judge if you save it for yourself.

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4. Spencer Cocoa 

Spencer offers only 2 bars; 42% milk chocolate and 72% dark chocolate, but it is a classic example of producing a limited amount of product and producing it really, really well. All of their beans are sourced from Vanuatu, a collection of islands in the South Pacific, so if you’ve got someone in your life that appreciates the unique, this is the chocolate for them.

Montezuma

5. Montezuma’s

This UK company is making flavoured chocolates that are well worth crossing the pond for (or if you can’t do that, order them online). From British flavours like eton mess, and treacle tart, to citrusy offerings like sea salt and lime, and white chocolate with lemon and sour cherry, Montezuma’s makes eating chocolate even more fun than it already is.