I tried three different methods of making chocolate cups, all of which failed or were very sorry-looking specimens, before someone suggested using balloons. "Duh," said one of my children.
If you can't find rosemary flowers growing on a bush somewhere, grind up a few fresh or frozen leaves with some caster sugar, using a pestle and mortar, and sprinkle this green dust (see Frozen Rosemary Sugar) over the top of the mousses.
This mousse is based on my recipe for Gin and Lime Mousse.
Naartjie Mousse in Dark-Chocolate Cups, with Rosemary Flowers
For the chocolate cups:
2 slabs of good-quality dark chocolate
For the mousse:
5 T (75 ml) tepid water
1 T (15 ml) powdered gelatine
3 large free-range eggs
one cup (250 ml) caster sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) finely grated naartjie zest
½ cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed naartjie juice
2 t (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (250 ml) single (whipping) cream
a pinch of salt
shreds of naartjie zest
fresh rosemary flowers, or rosemary 'dust' (see above)
First make the chocolate cups. Place a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water). Break up the chocolate and put the pieces in the bowl. Allow to melt gently, stirring occasionally. Don't allow the chocolate to get too hot: remove it from the heat when there are still a few bits left unmelted.
Cover two plates with baking paper. Tip the chocolate into a deep soup bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes. Stir well. Blow up each balloon to about the size of an orange and tie a tight knot. Very lightly spray the outside of each with cooking spray (see Cook's notes, below). Holding a balloon by the knot, dip it up to its 'waist' in the melted chocolate. Lift the balloon out, turn it upside down and quickly and gently swirl the chocolate to spread it evenly around. Now place the balloon, upright, on the baking paper. If the chocolate is very liquid, ask someone to hold it upright while the base sets. Repeat with remaining balloons. I suggest you make at least 12, to allow for breakages. Put the plates into the fridge and chill for 10-15 minutes, or until the chocolate is just hard. Now, using a pair of scissors, snip through the necks of the balloons, allow to deflate and gently peel them away. Refrigerate.
Now make the mousse. Put the water into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatine on the top and set aside to 'sponge' for five minutes. Place in a pan of simmering water - the water should come half-way up the sides of the bowl - and leave until the liquid is clear (about three minutes). Remove the from the heat and cool for a few minutes.
Separate the eggs into two large bowls. To the egg yolks, add the caster sugar. Using a rotary beater or hand-whisk, beat the mixture for a few minutes, or until thick, pale and fluffy. Don't worry if the mixture seems claggy at first: it will soon loosen up. Whisk the naartjie juice and lemon juice into the egg yolk/sugar mixture, a little at a time. Stir in the zest.
Strain the cooled, melted gelatine into the egg mixture and mix well. Whip the cream to a soft peak and gently fold it into the egg mixture. Place the bowl in the fridge for ten minutes to firm up.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk - using clean, dry beaters - to a firm peak. Using a large metal spoon, briskly stir a dollop of egg white into the egg-yolk/sugar mixture (this serves to 'slacken' the mix). Now, very gently, fold in the remaining egg white. Pile the mousse into the chocolate shells and chill for two hours, or until set.
Just before serving, sprinkle with naartjie zest and a few fresh rosemary flowers.
- Don't overbeat the egg whites. If they're too dry, they'll give the mousse a powdery texture.
- It's not strictly necessary to spray the balloons with cooking spray, but it will help release them if you've left them in the fridge too long. (Yes, I did!)
- If you can't find naartjies, use fresh oranges.
- Be sure to measure the quantity of gelatine exactly. If you have sheet gelatine (which produces a very fine texture), use 6 leaves (weighing 10 grams).
- There are various ways to temper dark chocolate, but this is the way I've found easiest, using a digital cooking thermometer. Melt two-thirds of the chocolate pieces. Don't allow the chocolate to overheat (it should not go above 45ºC). Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining pieces. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally, until the temperature of the chocolate reaches 28ºC. Now put the bowl back over the pot of simmering water and gently reheat it 31ºC, stirring. (This doesn't take long, so watch the thermometer like a hawk). That's it. More detailed information about tempering chocolate here and here.
More naartjie recipes from this blog:
- Slow-cooked Moroccan-style Beef and Apricot Stew with Naartjie and Chickpea Couscous
- Couscous, Feta & Pea Salad with Naartjie Dressing
- Caramel-Dipped Naartjies, on Kebab Sticks