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.
You can serve the mousse with a dollop of whipped cream to lighten it up a bit but I actually prefer to eat it by itself. 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.
Food Photography and Styling: I was going for rustic with a touch of elegance and my tried and trusted dark, moody and dramatic look in this food photo, 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.
Camera Settings: Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.
Coffee Borgia Mousse Recipe
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped (I used a Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar)*
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon very finely grated orange zest (about one small orange)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- two thin orange slices as garnish
- whipped cream (optional)
- Add the chocolate, the cream and the espresso powder to a glass bowl, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and let the chocolate melt. Don’t stir the ingredients until the chocolate is almost fully melted.
- Once the chocolate is melted, take it off the water pot and stir in the orange zest. Set aside.
- Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar in a bowl (by hand) 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. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, whip the egg white with the cream of tartar to very stiff peaks.
- Carefully fold the 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.
- Let me mousse chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Garnish with the orange slices and serve by itself or with whipped cream.
*Don’t use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.
If you’re in the mood for a white chocolate mousse instead, I recommend the Chai–Spiced White Chocolate Mousse below: