Wednesday, December 2, 2009

an old-fashioned meal needs a good dessert - recipe: chocolate mousse

Every year around the holidays, my husband’s best friend, Alex, treats his three brothers, his closest friends and their significant others to an over-the-top meal. The dinner always takes place at Barberian’s, a steakhouse that’s an institution in Toronto.

David and I have been together for eight years, but this year was the first time that I was also able to attend, as I didn’t have an event to cater that night.

Where do I start?

Both the night and the meal were memorable. We were greeted by the maître d’ who took us down to the lower level of the restaurant… nope, not a scary basement space, but the private wine cellar!

There are two levels — we were in the upper, more intimate dining space, completely surrounded by floor to ceiling wine racks, overlooking their two-storey high main wine vault… incredible.

To make me even happier — among the fifteen guests were a couple married just two weeks earlier, a two-month old baby to hold, and an expectant mother. We started with cocktails and appetizers — think lobster bisque, Caesar salad and shrimp the size of pancakes (no joke).

The menu was extremely traditional, in a good way – I don’t think it’s changed since it opened in 1959! It even has an “after 10 theatre menu for two” with classics like baked Alaska and crepes Suzette.

On to dinner. Amazing wines were shared, and in addition to the meal that each guest ordered (me: a bacon-wrapped filet mignon, as this 8 oz. steak was their smallest; David: a 16 oz. rib-eye steak), Alex ordered a slew of side dishes for us all to share — three whole lobsters, sautéed mushrooms, the best deep-fried onion rings I’ve ever had (David is still talking about them), pickled vegetables, amazing garlic toast and more.

Believe it or not, we all saved room for dessert. I ordered their famous hot apple beignets (donuts) with vanilla ice cream, David ordered the cheesecake and surprise, surprise, Alex ordered a round of desserts for everyone to share on top of their own (it’s like he knew we all had such a hard time deciding).

Their frozen chocolate éclair, caramel cheesecake and signature house chocolate mousse made the rounds. The chocolate mousse was delicious and was actually served in a little house made of chocolate.

As you can imagine, we all felt like royalty that night. I did my best to eat like a pauper the next day! Thanks to our generous friend, Alex, for an incredible meal and experience.

This week’s recipe is for chocolate mousse — unusual because it is made with olive oil, which makes it even creamier. As you can imagine, it’s rich so you don’t need to serve a lot.

chocolate mousse


  • 200 gram Masters Choice swiss milk chocolate
  • 1/3 cup RALO olive oil or masters choice olive oil
  • 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup whipping (35 per cent) cream
  • fresh mint, for garnish


  • Soften gelatin in water.
  • In a large heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate.
  • Slowly stir in the olive oil until smooth. Then add gelatin.
  • Remove from heat. With a mixer at medium speed, beat egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until pale yellow and creamy.
  • With mixer at low speed, slowly mix the chocolate-oil mixture into the yolks.
  • Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  • Gradually beat in 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently fold 1/3 egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Add remaining whites until almost combined. Gently fold in whipped cream and combine. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for three hours.
  • When set, scoop out into small bowls and garnish with additional whipped cream and/or a sprig of mint, if desired.

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