As we all know, dark chocolate is actually good for you. It has antioxidants to protect against nasty diseases and even fibre. But it isn't enough any more just to call it chocolate.
Michel Cluizel pioneered the concept of estate chocolates. His eponymous 1er Cru Plantation line highlights the dark stuff made from cocoa grown in single plantations around the world.
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Like teas, coffees and wines, these chocolate flavours vary wildly according to the conditions in which the beans are grown. Chocolate from Madagascar, for example, is highly aromatic with notes of vanilla, caramel and gingerbread, while Santo Domingo chocolate is fruity with a hint of green olive (it's my favourite).
These truly are the "single malts" of the chocolate world. Cluziel's blended dark chocolates are also superb, from his 60-per-cent cocoa content up to his extreme 99-per-cent (great for cooking, not eating). The key to the following chocolate recipe is the superiority of the chocolate (we used the 70-per-cent cocoa content in this).
This is the ultimate version of chocolate mousse. It's a takeoff on a chocolate cake I had in Paris, which was served with saffron foam. The saffron highlights the chocolate and gives it incredible taste. If you wish, you can serve this mousse with whipped cream instead.
8 ounces 70-per-cent chocolate, chopped
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup sugar
½ cup chilled whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons sugar
Place chocolate and cream in a heavy pot and heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
Place eggs and sugar in a metal bowl over simmering water (basically a homemade double boiler with more space) and beat with an electric beater for 5 minutes or until mixture is pale yellow and beaters leave a ribbon that takes 5 seconds to dissipate.
Fold chocolate and cream into egg mixture. (It will be runny.) Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. It will thicken.
Heat saffron and 2 tablespoons of whipping cream together until cream is an orangey colour. Combine saffron cream with chilled cream and sugar and beat until slightly airy and thick enough to coat a spoon.
Scoop mousse onto a plate or glass serving dish and surround with foam.