As mother’s day approached, and I was thinking more of my mom, and how we’ve been separated by an ocean for the past 22 years, many memories of when she was the mom and I was just a daughter danced through my head. Many of those memories involved oranges, and orange trees, and an orange orchard where our house was built. Fittingly, the property was called El Taroncheral (taronja means orange in the Valencian language). Oranges have been a constant in my life. No wonder, coming from Valencia, the land of the oranges. So oranges would be in this week’s post and recipe: chocolate and orange mousse.
The month of December was when the feast started every year. When December came, Antonio, the gardener, would start making his trips to our house with crates of oranges, way more oranges than my family could ever consume. The crates sat in our pantry and eventually would overflow into the kitchen. That’s when liters of freshly squeezed orange juice would be made, at various times of the day, as the drink of choice. Oranges went into chicken and meat dishes, into desserts, and into jams and marmalade. They were sliced and sprinkled with sugar, and peeled and divided into sections for afternoon snacks. One of my favorite was tarta de naranja amarga, bitter orange tart, a very thin layer of puff pastry where caramelized slices of orange were arranged in an overlapping fashion. Oranges were a constant for months, even as the trees started to bud with new blossoms. And these oranges, for our family’s consumption, where only the ones that couldn’t be sold, because they weren’t “perfect”.
When we go back home to Spain, we still stay at El Taroncheral, which holds its name even if many of the orange trees have been replaced by other fruit trees, plum trees and persimmon trees mostly. The place where many of my memories live still holds the smell of orange blossom flowers and the sight of branches heavy with the fruit (for more on El Taroncheral, I wrote about it here).
So for this Mother’s Day post, I wanted to make something with oranges, but also with chocolate, because that’s a combination that I love (candied orange peel with dark chocolate, yum!). The recipe for this chocolate and orange mousse is a variation from one by Nigella Lawson, and I love it not only because it’s delicious, but also because it’s very simple to make. I hope you like it.
CHOCOLATE AND ORANGE MOUSSE
Mousse de Chocolate y Naranja
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs orange extract
3 Tbs fresh squeezed orange juice
Grated orange peel (from 1/2 orange)
Coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in a bowl fitted over a saucepan with simmering water. Let it melt, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon when almost melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set it aside to cool.
While the chocolate is melting, grate the orange into thin strips and then squeeze its juice. Set aside (note: I cover the orange peel with a piece of plastic cling foil so it doesn’t dry up).
Whip 1 cup of cream and the salt until soft peaks form (I used a stand-up mixer). Add the condensed milk and fold it in with a rubber spatula.
Stir about 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture into the melted chocolate and mix with a rubber spatula. Now work in the opposite direction: in 2 or 3 batches, pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream mixture and fold between additions. Gently stir in the orange extract and the orange juice.
Fill a pastry bag with the chocolate mousse and gently pipe into 6 glasses, dividing the mousse equally (if you use non-transparent containers, you can just spoon the mousse into them, since you don’t have to worry about it looking “pretty”). Tap the glasses gently so the mousse settles.
Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour (or longer if they won’t be served right away; the mousse keeps well for up to two days).
Before serving, whip 1 cup of cream until soft peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag and pipe it onto the chocolate mousse, dividing it equally. Finish with a few strips of orange peel.