I remember hearing this interview with Nigella Lawson last December on NPR — they must do it every year, because I heard another similar one this December, a week or so ago — in which she was talking about easy recipes for holiday entertaining, making the whole thing seem so effortless and awesome. She got to this chocolate orange cake, and explained that chocolate-with-orange is just such a British flavor for the holiday season, and I was like, “Yes! Yes!” I am not British, but somehow chocolate plus orange totally equals a special treat.
(Incidentally, if you follow the link, you’ll see that in that same interview she extolled the convenient virtues of peanut butter hummus, a snack so horrid-sounding that I had actually completely forgotten about all the other nice ideas she has for holiday food.)
I used to love making chocolate mousse when I was a kid. My mom and I used to make a version from the Silver Palate cook book (I think) that involved heavy cream, chocolate, sugar, and Grand Marnier. I think there were also either whole eggs or egg yolks. (Raw eggs were included in a disconcertingly large number of the Silver Palate recipes, according to my memory, and it always used to freak me out a bit. I think their gazpacho included raw eggs!) Anyway . . . I loved the way the mousse would set to a semi-solid consistency in the fridge, and I remember loving that sharp, almost medicinal Grand Marnier taste. For some reason (maybe all the Grand Marnier commercials this season…) I’ve been craving that particular flavor a bit.
Anyway, this chocolate-orange mousse is lighter and vegan-er, and generally my version of what I hope becomes my new signature holiday flavor. This is a totally vegan dessert, and it is the rare example of a dessert I like so much that I not only don’t mind when people don’t care for it. . . I’m almost happy about it. Earlier this afternoon, Kishmish spit out a mouthful of this dessert in disgust (I’m just being honest here), very nearly letting it dribble onto the new dress she had received not 2 hours before. Later, after dinner, Pista ate a few bites and then said, “I think that’s all I want.” I pressed her, trying to figure out whether I should save the rest for tomorrow, and she said (rather politely!), “I’m not sure that you need to save any for me.”
I know none of this really equals a ringing recommendation for making this as a family-friendly holiday treat, but there you go.
Chocolate Orange Mousse
- 1 package silken tofu
- 1 bag dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons superfine sugar (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
Blend the tofu until very smooth in a blender or food processor. (For a non-vegan chocolate mousse, you would use heavy cream. So keep in mind that you are trying to whip up the tofu and make it slightly airy, like whipped cream.)
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, until it is well-melted.
Drizzle the melted chocolate into the tofu while running the blender or food processor on low. I’m always afraid the chocolate will hit the cold liquid during this step and congeal, ruining everything….but that never happens.
Add the sugar, if necessary. Really, the amount of sugar required at this point depends on your own taste, and the sweetness of the chocolate. Just keep one thing in mind: if you taste the mousse at this point, it has a really weird soy taste, like a soymilk aftertaste. Somehow, this goes away when the dessert chills in the fridge, so don’t worry too much. (And don’t feed let a 6-year-old in a new dress have a taste at this point.)
Now it’s time to add the Grand Marnier. You can either add 1/4 cup to the whole batch, or you can take out portions for non-drinking-age people, then add the liqueur to what’s left. I took out half for the children, and added 2 tablespoons liqueur to the remaining mousse. Does that make sense? If not, you figure it out.
I think this dessert is best chilled in individual glasses, then chilled until serving time. Kishmish loved zesting an orange to garnish the glasses, even if the actual dessert didn’t go over well.