Chocolate is the ideal choice for that romantic evening in

Chocolate mousse and strawberry croissants. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (13274-2)
Chocolate mousse and strawberry croissants. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (13274-2)

It broke the bank, but every fancy mouthful was worth it

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and favourite restaurants are full to the brim with bookings and cancellation lists full of people hoping that a table becomes free.

So I thought I would help out a little bit for the people who can’t get a table or those who are looking for the ultimate romantic treat; a home-cooked meal.

Dessert is the area I’ll be helping out in and what a dessert it is; a chocolate mousse. It’s synonymous with everything romantic and an indulgent and decadent end to a perfect evening spent with your partner.

I don’t think there are many desserts that tick all the boxes like a chocolate mousse, especially when served with some nice berries to add a little sharpness and acidity. I am using strawberries - the classic combination.

The origins of chocolate mousse are relatively unknown. After being introduced to chocolate by the Spanish, French chefs have been cooking with chocolate since the early 17th century.

I will also be making a caramelised croissant to add a nice crunchy texture and, above all, more buttery indulgence. What a treat!

The mousse itself will be very light and airy because of the egg whites, but it will be rich to the taste. I find it’s best to use a high percentage cocoa and chocolate that is 70% is fine, simply because the bitterness will combat the sugar and will keep the mousse from being too sweet.

· Kevin Bingham is the chef patron of Restaurant 27 in Southsea. Call (023) 9287 6272.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE AND STRAWBERRY CROISSANTS

Equipment:

Four serving bowls

Whisk (electric if you have one)

Two mixing bowls

Pan for bain-marie

Heat proof bowl

Ingredients:

Three eggs, separated

2oz castor sugar

One pint whipping cream, lightly whipped

6oz chocolate (with 72 per cent cocoa)

Method:

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until white and fluffy (we call it the ribbon stage).

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in your bain-marie. Once melted take off the heat and leave to cool until it reaches room temperature.

(You can melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20 second bursts too.) Fold the cooled chocolate into the egg and sugar mix until completely mixed.

Then, lightly fold the cream into the chocolate and, again, make sure the chocolate is completely mixed in.

Now, whip the egg whites into stiff peaks and to finish the mousse gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate to give you a light and fluffy texture.

Once the egg whites are completely folded in, divide the mousse into serving bowls and cover with cling film. Refrigerate until you need them.

Caramelised Croissant

Equipment:

Baking tray

Ingredients:

One croissant per person

Icing sugar

Method:

Thinly slice the croissant and lightly dust with the icing sugar. Then bake in the oven at the lowest temperature until caramelised, checking regularly, or, if your oven has a pilot light then the croissant can dry in the oven for 1 hour.

Garnish it with fresh berries. Most berries will be perfect for the mousse.