Back in April, my extraordinarily talented friend K whipped up a chocolate mousse. What’s more — it was healthy. Not even just relatively healthy, mind you. It was loaded with protein, low in fat, rich in flavor, and light in texture. Exactly right.
The secret ingredient? (You should know by now, there’s always a secret ingredient!)
I’d seen the idea floating around on the internet but hadn’t been quite brave enough to tackle on the challenge of mousse-making until now. K generously and eloquently shared his process with me, and I set to recreating it. You guys… This recipe is insanely easy and incredibly forgiving. What’s more, there’s no real cooking involved — not to mention, it’s vegan and gluten-free. I can’t think of any reason not to make it, unless you are one of those strange few who don’t like chocolate (in which case, stop.).
Bolstered by my success with the mousse, I also made some cocoa nut “crust” (also with a secret ingredient, of course) and citrus salt to tie it all together. The final product: orange-chocolate mousse bars, a perfect birthday treat for my officemate.
My coworker also ingeniously, literally whipped up some fresh cream to serve on top — a perfect accompaniment. The complete dessert was a study in balance: easy to make but impressive to serve, decadent in flavor but clean in nutrition.
A note about equipment: For the chocolate tofu mousse and cocoa nut crust, you will need a blender or food processor of some sort. I used a standard kitchen blender for the former and a Magic Bullet for the latter; my friend Kenny uses an immersion blender for his mousse. I also recommend using a double-boiler for the mousse. If you don’t have one, you can MacGyver one, as I did — it’s as simple as placing a mixing bowl on top of a pot of boiling water (making sure that the bowl does not touch the water and is only warmed by steam). As for touches of flavor (e.g., the orange in the mousse and the citrus in the salt), it’ll behoove you to use a fine grater/zester.
Chocolate tofu mousse
- 6 ounces of chocolate – I used Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate by the pound
- 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- 1 (16 ounce) package of silken tofu
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of almond milk
- 1 tablespoon of sweetener, or to taste – I used agave nectar
- Orange zest to taste
- Melt your chocolate with cocoa powder using a double-boiler or a microwave. If using a double-boiler: stir regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn. If using a microwave: zap in short bursts, mixing and monitoring throughout the process.
- Blend all the ingredients together until smooth as can be! Try to mix your chocolate in quickly, since we don’t want it to seize up. I preferred pre-mixing the tofu, vanilla extract, and almond milk while the chocolate was still melting.
- Taste and adjust as necessary. I personally couldn’t get enough of the orange zest, and added in a little more agave than listed.
- Pour into container(s) of your choice (or on top of the cocoa nut crust, as follows below) and refrigerate. The longer you wait, the more it will settle. I stored mine overnight with great results.
Cocoa nut crust
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (50 grams)
- 1/4 cup almonds (30 grams) – feel free to substitute with your nut of choice
- 1/4 cup almond meal (30 grams) – ditto!
- 1/2 cup raisins (75 grams) – you may also use dates
- 2 tablespoons of liquid sweetener – I used agave nectar
- 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend thoroughly.
- Transfer to a container and press down firmly to form the crust.
- Citrus of choice – I used oranges
- Sea salt – the flakier, the better
- Pre-heat your oven to a low temperature (150 to 200 degrees).
- Zest the citrus. You will generally want one part citrus zest to four parts salt, although you can definitely make this as you please!
- Place the citrus zest on aluminum foil or a baking sheet. Bake until completely dry.
- Toss the dried citrus zest with salt.
There’s tons of room to play around with this! Try infusing salt with other herbs, spices, and flavors — as long as you thoroughly dry every ingredient, you are golden. Feel free to use this as a finishing salt when plating a dish (ahem, such as chocolate mousse) or dressing it up as a thoughtful hostess gift.
PS. I find it hilarious that this KQED article came out today — the smell of oranges helps dieters eat less chocolate!