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Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil and Flaky Salt

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

This thrilling Dalí-esque marriage of flavors—dark chocolate and fruity olive oil, with a strange and wonderful accent of salt—seems to spell out nueva cocina. But actually, Catalan chocolate–olive oil desserts go back further in time. As historians have told me, after World War II, when luxury ingredients such as chocolate were strictly rationed, Catalans would melt a piece of chocolate, spread it on toast, and sprinkle olive oil and a bit of salt on top for a sweet-savory treat. Avant-garde chefs took the idea and ran with it.

As you serve this sweet, prepare for drama: Some people go wild over it, others raise their eyebrows, but either way, it will be the talk of the evening. While the mousse is easy to make, good ingredients are essential: the best, darkest chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao content; an extra-fruity, slightly peppery olive oil that can stand up to the chocolate; and the flaky British sea salt called Maldon (look for it at specialty food shops). Because the dessert is so explosively flavorful and unusual, serve tiny scoops of it in stylish glasses or glass bowls. And only to your most adventurous friends.

Instructions

  1. 1Place the cream in a small, heavy saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it is hot but not boiling and begins to bubble around the edge. Place the chocolate in a metal bowl and pour the hot cream over it all at once. Let the cream stand for 2 to 3 minutes while the chocolate melts. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir the chocolate mixture in a circular motion, starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out to the side. Be careful not to stir too vigorously, or you will add too much air to the ganache. Keep stirring until all the chocolate is melted and completely blended with the cream. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours. The mixture will firm as it sits.
  2. 2To serve, using a melon baller, scoop balls of the mousse into small wide tumblers or “minimalist” glass bowls. Pour 2 to 3 teaspoons of the olive oil around but not over the mousse and judiciously sprinkle salt on top. If desired, serve with very thin bread sticks for dipping into the mousse.

Beverage pairing: Cornet & Cie Banyuls Rimage, France. This is a fortified, sweet red wine from the south of France, and its chocolate-covered cherry, bit-of-smoke, and slightly seaborn saltiness make it an exceptional pairing for chocolate, even chocolate doctored with a little taste of the Mediterranean.

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.

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