The value of failure
Sometimes our failures can be as fascinating as our successes are tasty. After making Hervé This’s chocolate Chantilly, I thought I thoroughly understood the process and could use it to interesting effect. Since chocolate is made up of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, sugar and lecithin, I thought I could use pure cocoa butter, fruit puree and sugar to make a fruit-flavoured mousse.
It turns out it’s not quite that easy. My first attempt involved simply combining sweetened blueberry puree with cocoa butter, but when I tried to whip it as it chilled, it separated into two phases, one of hardened cocoa butter and one of blueberry puree. I re-melted it and tried to emulsify it with some lecithin, which didn’t work, then some gelatin, which did. But the resulting emulsion wouldn’t foam when I whipped it. Finally, I added more cocoa butter in the form of white chocolate (I didn’t want to use more pure cocoa butter, because of the expense), and managed to get a mousse-like substance, pictured above. It’s bad enough that it looks grainy, even though it’s smooth on the tongue, but worse, it doesn’t taste very good. Apparently I still don’t fully understand the ins and outs of cocoa butter, but I’m happy to treat this as one more lesson in how it works, and learn what I can.