There’s something indescribably kitsch about a black forest gâteau. Endless flavours have been paired with chocolate over the years, but cherry seems a particularly contradictory one. While oranges and strawberries have a bright freshness, the dark richness of cherries should drag the already rich chocolate into decadent depths from which it struggles to ascend. Certainly, it’s not a pairing that has ever really caught on in chocolate bars or Christmas chocolate tubs (argue amongst yourself over which brand is better).
Nevertheless, the black forest gâteau succeeds. Cherry infused chocolate sponge layered between lashings of cherry-spiked cream, decorated with all the campness one can muster. I can only ever visualise one on a little golden trolley, covered by a plastic cloche in a 70s restaurant. And yet, the other day I had a distinct craving for it. I’ve never been much of a baker, so turned to one of the few desserts I particularly enjoy making – the mousse. Bubbly and soft, this mousse has a gorgeous texture and is deceptively easy to make. It will turn out thicker and richer than a supermarket yoghurt-pot mousse, and all the better for it.
While I layered mine in a manner reminiscent of an actual gâteau, the mousse on its own tasted beautiful anyway.
Ingredients (made approx 6)
- 100g dark chocolate – the darker the better – broken into small pieces
- 60ml water or cold coffee
- 3-4 eggs, separated
- 2tbsp sugar
- 3tbsp cherry brandy
- Optional cherries to garnish
For the cream
- 200ml whipping cream
- 2tsp sugar
- Several chopped cherries
- Pour the water/coffee and chocolate into a bowl and set over a saucepan with water (not high enough to touch the bowl). Bring the water to a boil and stir the bowl until the chocolate has melted into the water. Set aside to cool. When cooled add the cherry brandy and egg yolks and stir.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks, adding the sugar halfway through.
- Use a spatula or spoon, fold 1-2 tbsp egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold through the rest. Don’t over-fold, only to the point that it is combined. Pour into wine glasses or ramekins and cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours, covered with cling film. Garnish with fresh cherries.
- If layering, pour 2/3 into each glass, cool for an hour, then layer with the cream , cool again, then the rest of the mousse. The cooling ensures it has firmed up enough to support the layers above.