When I was about eight years old a miraculous thing happened at the local Flemmings supermarket: they introduced a weekly serial of recipe cards published by the Australian Women's Weekly.
These recipe cards couldn't have arrived at a better time in my life - or my mother's for that matter. It was right when Mum was discovering international cuisine, and I was demanding to be taught how to cook. Every week when we did the grocery shopping, Mum faithfully purchased a new set of cards - about twenty-four in all, which covered everything from Favourite Cakes to Light n' Lovely Cool Desserts to Traditional Roasts. I would pour over the glossy cards, admiring the pictures, as Mum created delight after culinary delight in our kitchen.
Amongst those cards featured a plethora of flavour revelations: they contained the original chocolate caramel slice which in the twenty-five years since has been worshipped by many a cafe goer, yet hardly ever reproduced in a fashion faithful to the original. There was also a section on confectionary which included a recipe for sherbet cones. As a teenager I ditched the cones and just made up bowls of sherbet for an afternoon snack.
But the piece de resitance in that monumental library of taste-bud tantalizing treats was the Coffee Liqueur Chocolate Mousse. I watched Mum make it many times, and decided it was something best left to the experts. She had to melt this, mix that, and quite often one component had to sit momentarily in the freezer because it was just too darned hot in the kitchen to work any other way. The resulting mousse would be served at the fanciest of dinner gatherings. My sister and I would skim our long-handled teaspoons across the surface of the mousse, gathering a sampling to be sucked and savoured... there was NEVER any scoffing where that mousse was concerned. We took our time to enjoy its rich chocolatey flavour.
Ah! What a memory! That mousse is untouchable in my mind.
Then something odd happened last year - I was browsing a summer furniture catalogue when I noticed a recipe for chocolate tart obscured on one of the pages. I thought I'd give it a shot and was astounded to discover when the filling was complete that it was a near immitation of the Recipe Cards Chocolate Mousse (albeit with the liqueur left out). The startling thing was this: it took five minutes to make! I started to mess with that recipe immediately: more chocolate, less cream, liqueur in, liqueur out... then I impressed everybody with a thick but tiny portion of mousse mud at Christmas dinner. Yay! Still, the chocolate tart idea is good. Makes mousse access much easier!
1 large sheet shortcrust pastry
250g dark cooking chocolate
1 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, brought to room temperature then separated
200ml cream, whipped
1. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees celcius. Grease a tart case tin with butter then line with the shortcrust pastry. Fill case with pie weights and cook until edges are golden brown. (Check pastry cooking instructions for recommended cooking time).
2. Remove pie weights and leave tart in tin to cool on a wire rack.
3. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a large cooking bowl. Add sugar and microwave for approximately 2mins 20secs or until chocolate has melted. Do not over cook! Stir chocolate and sugar to combine.
4. Whip cream while chocolate is melting. If you have a stick blender, they are ideal for this - very effective and very quick at the same time.
5. Add lightly beaten egg yolks to the chocolate and sugar mix AS SOON AS IT COMES OUT OF THE MICROWAVE. The heat of the chocolate will cook the eggs, thereby eliminating any yolky flavour. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for five minutes.
6. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Continue to fold until cream is completely combined with chocolate.
7. Immediately pour mousse filling into cold tart case. Place tart case and tin on a baking sheet and position on bottom shelf of fridge. Allow to chill for at least two hours before serving. Mousse will become quite solid and cuttable.
8. Remove tart case from tin and present on a gorgeous cake plate. Slice into wedges and serve with fresh berries. Depending on the size of your tart case, you should get about 10 servings from one tart.
Note: you'll most likely have some filling left over - pour in into ramekins and save it to eat later!