When I think about Passover desserts, I don’t like to think about what must be excluded, partially because it gets confusing. Some observant Jews say the leavening that must be avoided is through fermentation, therefore the chemical leaveners baking soda and baking powder should be fine. Other Jewish bakers would scoff at the idea of using them. Flour should be avoided and matzo meal is often used in its place; I say we should just focus on what we can use.
Passover desserts are often rich in nuts and fruit and eggs; eggs are relied upon to provide loft in cakes and other sweet creations and are often used in abundance. I wanted something different.
I had heard about a two-ingredient chocolate-mousse recipe by Hervé This, from his book Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History), and I realized it would be the perfect Passover dessert. The two ingredients? Chocolate and water. Yup. You read that right. I have adapted his recipe and do give you some additional ingredient option in the Tips, and we photographed it with a dollop of cream and a sprinkling of extra chocolate, but the recipe is truly as pared down as it gets. Pay attention to the details – over-whipping the mixture is where most folks go wrong; slow down and stop just when you just start to see a thickened texture in the mousse.
Image: Peter Muka
- 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, such as Valrhona Extra Bitter (61%)
- ¾ cup room temperature water
- Have 6 demitasse cups ready or other similar small cups.
- Place chocolate and water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until chocolate melts and mixture is combined. Scrape into small bowl set in a larger bowl filled with ice water.
- Use an electric hand mixer to beat the chocolate mixture just until it begins to slightly lighten in color and the beaters begin to leave marks in the mousse, about 2 to 3 minutes – but could be less! You will be taking the mousse from a liquid state to a creamy one, but if you over beat it will thicken and turn grainy. Immediately scrape the mousse into the cups. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 4 hours. Serve cold or room temperature.
- The chocolate you use will change the texture dramatically. Try to stay in the 55% to 65% range.
- If you want to add flavor, remove 2 tablespoons of water and add 2 tablespoons of liqueur. I have made it with Framboise and Grand Marnier successfully.
- Top with a bit of sweetened whipped cream and a grating of extra chocolate, if you like, as we did in the photo. If you want to keep it dairy-free, try our Coconut Whipped Cream.
- If you over-whip it and it turns grainy, you can try re-melting gently and starting again.