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This dessert was inspired by one of my favorite espresso drinks, the coffee Borgia. A Borgia is like a mocha (espresso, chocolate syrup, steamed milk) but with orange zest mixed in. It’s a wonderful flavor combination that I recreated in this chocolate mousse with melted bittersweet chocolate, a bit of heavy cream, espresso powder and orange zest. The recipe is very easy to make, takes no more than about 15 minutes total and you can easily scale it up and make a fancy dessert for a large crowd.
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar)
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon very finely grated orange zest (about one orange)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 egg white
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- two thin orange slices as garnish
- Melt the chocolate along with the cream and the espresso powder in a bowl over simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, take it off the water pot. Stir in the orange zest then set aside.
- Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar in a bowl until lighter in color and texture than when you started.
- Quickly whisk the chocolate mix into the egg/sugar mix in two to three batches.
- With an electric mixer, whip the egg white with the cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
- Whisk about half of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate.
- Carefully fold the remaining whipped egg white into the chocolate mix (take a half-turn around the bowl with the whisk and then shake the mousse through the tines of the whisk).
- As soon as no streaks remain, fill the mousse into individual serving bowls. Work quickly because the mousse will set very fast.
- Garnish with the orange slices and serve by itself or with whipped cream.
Food Photography and Styling: I was going for rustic with a touch of elegance here so I used rough wood planks as a surface (the same ones that I used here) and a fancy cocktail glass to hold the mousse. The thin orange slice on the surface of the mousse wasn’t a strong enough clue that this dessert is quite heavily orange-flavored in my opinion so I added more orange in the back of the frame to reinforce the idea. The set still looked a bit naked so I placed a few chocolate squares here and there. I observed the rule of thirds very closely here and placed the glass along the right vertical dividing line and the orange slice on the mousse on an intersection point.
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.