Chocolate mousse-filled easter eggs
Being of the non-religious, sweet toothed persuasion, Easter for me is a celebration of chocolate in all its delicious forms. In my humble opinion, these chocolate mousse-filled chocolate eggs are a good place for the party to begin. A perfectly made mousse is deliciously rich, silky-smooth and decadent. You can adapt the flavour to suit – substitute the vanilla extract for rum or flavoured liqueur; add espresso, orange zest or spices.
If like me, you are a bit of a fancy pants and like to impress your friends and family with culinary delights, try making these into the most wonderful Easter dessert – serve individual filled eggs in egg cups (or espresso cups), decorated with gold leaf or piped chocolate. Making your own eggs is great fun, but if you are short on time most chocolatiers sell empty halves around Easter, which you can simply fill with the mousse and decorate yourself.
250g dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa solids)
300ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar – divided into two measures of 1/4 cup
225g white chocolate
225g dark chocolate
Your chocolate will need to be tempered to stabilise the cocoa butter and produce a glossy finish. If it is not tempered it will look streaky and dull once set. (See below for tips on tempering.) If you are in a hurry you can use compound chocolate (this chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa butter and is commonly used in baking) – it won’t taste quite as delicious but doesn’t require tempering.
Gold and silver leaf (optional)
Piping bag, chocolate moulds, and thermometer (to temper the chocolate)
1. Melt the chocolate over a low heat, stirring frequently to prevent the chocolate from burning. Leave aside to cool a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Whip the cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate.
3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until very thick and pale, and the sugar is completely dissolved. This will only work if the eggs are at room temperature; too cold and they won’t thicken.
4. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until thick and foamy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. The egg whites should look glossy and the sugar completely dissolved.
5. Slowly add the melted chocolate to the beaten egg yolk mixture, mixing thoroughly.
6. Add half the beaten egg white mixture and mix until smooth before adding the whipped cream.
7. Finish by adding the remaining egg white mixture. Mix until completely smooth.
8. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
1. Temper* or melt the chocolate.
2. Prepare the moulds. Ensure they are clean and dry - you may also wish to mist with a little cooking spray to make it easier to remove the eggs once set.
3. Pour liquid chocolate into moulds, rotating to ensure even coverage. Place mould opening-side down on a sheet of baking paper and leave to set (not in the refrigerator).
4. Once set, press the eggs out of the moulds and onto baking paper. Pipe mousse into each half.
5. Run a hot knife around the edges of the shells, and then press two halves together to form a whole egg.
6. Decorate the outside of eggs if desired - You can pipe with chocolate, cover with gold leaf, or stud with cake decorations.
Large eggs make a great dessert – serve in eggs cups with a spoon to easily get into the delicious filling!
Smaller eggs can be placed in bowls or baskets to decorate an Easter table. They also make great gifts, just remember to keep refrigerated.
I find the simplest way to temper chocolate is the ‘seeding’ method, which involves adding tempered chocolate to melted chocolate; the tempered chocolate providing the seed crystals to achieve temper. The chocolate you buy is already tempered, but once you melt it the molecules of fat separate and it looses its temper.
1. Chop up the chocolate. Place roughly two-thirds of the chocolate in the top of a double-boiler (baine marie).
2. Heat over hot (but not boiling) water and stir constantly until chocolate reaches between 43 and 46°C. Be careful not to let the chocolate burn – dark chocolate can handle higher heat than milk or white, but a good rule of thumb is not to let chocolate get over 54°C.
3. Remove the bowl from double-boiler and place on a towel*.
4. Allow the chocolate to cool to between 35 and 38°C.
5. Add the remaining chocolate to the melted chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is melted. The chocolate is now tempered and ready to be used.
6. While working with the chocolate, keep it in the range of 31-32°C to maintain temper. If you loose temper, simply repeat the above steps, adding some ‘fresh’ tempered chocolate to your melted chocolate.
*Do not let any moisture get into your chocolate or it will seize – if this does happen, discard the seized chocolate and start over.