This standout Moroccan dessert comes straight from the chef of the Ruined Garden in Fès.
During our trip to Fès we dined at the Ruined Garden twice. On our first visit, we did not save room for dessert, but when we returned, we chose the Chocolate & Espresso Mousse with Ras el Hanout. We were not disappointed. The mousse was the perfect size, too: little pots of rich, velvety mousse deliciousness with an unexpected exotic finish.
Ras el hanout is a complex and distinctive North African spice mix. The name is Arabic for “head of the shop” or “top shelf” and consists of a combination of the best spices the merchant has to offer. Each shop has its own blend, the quantities of which vary according to the maker.
I wrote to chef Robert Johnstone, who shared the recipe with us — and gave us the kind permission to run it on our blog. He makes 17 at a time, and the day before he serves them, he puts them in the fridge to set for a few hours. I scaled the recipe down and converted from metric to U.S. measurements.
Chocolate & Espresso Mousse With Ras el Hanout
8 (3-ounce) small espresso glasses or cups. Small is best, as the mousse is very rich.
Measuring cup for pouring the mousse into the glasses or cups
Yield: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours to overnight
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1½ to 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
• pinch of salt
• 7 ounces 72% chocolate
• 3.5 ounces 52% chocolate
• 2 shots of strong espresso
• ras el hanout
Heat the cream in a pan. Once it is just about to boil, turn off the heat and add all of the chocolate, espresso and instant espresso powder.
Cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has melted fully into the cream. Then mix slowly but thoroughly. Try not to whip, as if you do the mixture will have bubbles — not a major problem, but they may spoil the finish.
Once you think all is mixed, check by lifting the spoon out and looking at the texture on the back of the spoon. If you can see small grains of chocolate, the finished mousse will be grainy, so you should mix for a little longer, and the bits will disappear.
While still hot, carefully pour the mixture into the glasses (we took Robert's advice to sprinkle a tiny bit of salt into the bottom of each glass in advance). Fill as close to the top as you can.
Leave to cool a little, then put into the fridge overnight or for at least 3 hours.
Finish with a dusting of any spice mixture you fancy as long as there’s a little pepper or heat — though we recommend ras el hanout, of course. You’re ready to serve!
They keep for a week in the fridge.
Note: You can make with all 72% chocolate, though you may need to add a little sugar to the hot cream. –Duke