Although my baking habits generally err on the side of healthy (my desserts do not normally boast the butter or sugar content of, say, Paula Deen), I still savor the opportunity to make a fully no-holds-barred dessert that equally tickles the palate of those who swear by sweets and also of those who instead appreciate one spectacular piece of chocolate a month. This really only happens when I'm baking for a group, and most definitely when I'm baking for someone other than just myself. This is when I want to create something memorable that is so decadent that I simply cannot wait to pull it from the oven, let it cool, and then plate it. A dish that's mere smell or appearance induces raised eyebrows, salivating mouths, and smiles of anticipatory pleasure (of the chocolate variety).
When this sort of dish is in order, I have found that I cannot trust just any recipe to fulfill the specifications. I do not pull a random one from my recipe file, but I go straight to my most trusted teachers. In this case, I took my cookbook, “How to be a Domestic Goddess” from the shelf, and asked it to give me something that would elevate me slightly higher toward that title. Of course, I brought the book with me to the kitchen in which I was cooking — which was not my own, but that of a friend's —and I received a requisite amount of teasing over the title. I counteracted with a confident smile and a remark about her Nigella Lawson's expertise, and then I continued to work with some of the most marvelous equipment that I ever have: heavy ceramic mixing bowls, metal measuring utensils, a wonderful springform pan. And although these pieces played an integral part in the creation of this Chocolate Mousse Cake, the real reason for its amazingly light composition, yet decadent flavor (not my words, but those of my tasters) is the chocolate used. Nigella specifies that only the “best quality” chocolate bars should be melted into this dish, and she is spot on. This time, I used Green & Blacks Organic chocolate, and I'm sure that anything above the waxy drugstore candy will do. Decent eggs and butter are also essential, mainly because there are so few ingredients, and each one stands out in its own way.
This cake received many compliments, including “out of this world” and “absolutely amazing.” And upon trying a slice for myself, I can think of several more perfectly apt phrases.
Chocolate Mousse Cake
11 oz. dark chocolate
2 oz. good quality milk chocolate
¾ cup unsalted butter
8 large eggs, seperated
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
A pinch salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and put a kettle on to boil. Line the inside of a 9 inch springform tin with silver foil, make sure that the foil is pressed well to the sides to form a smooth surface.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together and allow to cool. In another bowl, beat the eggs yolks and sugar until very thick and pale, they should form ribbons when lifted with the whisk. Stir in the vanilla and salt and then the cooled chocolate mix. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they form soft peaks, lighten the chocolate mix with a beaten in dollop of the whites before folding in the rest of them.
3. Pour the cake batter into the foiled cake tin and place the whole thing into a larger roasting dish. Add hot water from the boiled kettle into the roasting tin until it comes about 1 inch up the side of tin. Cook for about 50 minutes - 1 hour.
4. When the cake has cooled, slowly peel off the foil. The outside of the cake will be cooked and dry and the inside will be soft and moussy. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve.