Sunday, July 06, 2008
By Kevin Thornton
The first time I saw and worked with a fresh cocoa bean, I was excited. The experience was even more special, as the beans I worked with were from the plantation that supplies the chocolate we use at Thornton’s.
I was thrilled to meet the person who grows the cocoa beans that I use. To me that’s what food is about – amazing people who take huge pride in what they do and pass enormous pleasure on to others.
Then it is up to the likes of me not to mess it up as I pass it on. When so many people go to great lengths to understand and respect their produce and have such pride in what they do, it gives me enormous pleasure to work with their produce.
This is a dish I developed as an ode to the beautiful cocoa bean. It is simple and can be prepared in the morning for a dinner party or for a garden lunch in this beautiful Irish weather. Ahem. The secret when working with chocolate is firstly to ensure the product is of good quality and secondly, not to overheat it.
Remember not to be too intense when you work, as I believe cooking is all about energy. Think about the produce – the person who planted the bean, the one who looked after it while it grew, the chocolate maker, the person who cooks the recipe. Remember that it goes through a lot before it reaches its final destination. Enjoy it, as chocolate is the way into everyone’s heart.
Opera Chocolate and Mango Mousse (serves 12)
500g of 65 per cent chocolate
100g of 72 per cent grated chocolate
300ml of cream
4 medium-size free range eggs
80g of icing sugar
1 litre of lightly whipped cream
4 leaves of gelatine
1/2 glass of port
150ml of mango puree
50ml of passion fruit puree
1 mango diced
1 leaf of gelatine
5 raspberries each
100 ml of chocolate glaze (100g of 72 per cent chocolate, 5 drops of almond oil)
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl of warm water, covering the bowl with cling film so as not to allow any moisture in.
2. Boil 300ml of cream to make an anglaise. Mix the sugar and eggs together for a few seconds. When the cream comes to the boil, mix half into the egg mix and stir well. Pour the rest of the egg mix into the cream, return to the heat and cook for a few minutes or until you see the first bubble, stirring consistently. Make sure it does not boil.
3. Pour the mix into the chocolate. Melt the gelatine in the port liquid and pour into the mix. Cool the chocolate for a few minutes. Fold in the slightly whipped cream and, after 5 minutes, fold in the grated chocolate. This gives the mousse a crunch.
1. Mix the mango and passion fruit puree together. Cut the fresh mango into small pieces, add the gelatine, the puree and dissolve over a low heat.
2. Pour the mango mix into 8cm moulds to about 1cm in height only. Allow to slightly set for a few minutes and then pour the chocolate into the top of the mould. Refrigerate for about five hours.
3. To finish, melt some chocolate. Mix with a little almond oil and pour over the top. This gives the finished product a beautiful shine.
Place a chocolate ring in the centre of each plate. Remove the ring and scatter plate with raspberries.
Kevin Thornton is a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Thornton’s Restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. www.thorntonsrestaurant.com