Chef-patron, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire
"As a leader you have the privilege of having your ideas 'borrowed'. That is the greatest compliment that you can be paid and now,10 years on, this dish is in many three-Michelin-starred establishments and brasserie restaurants."
(from Blanc Mange, published by BBC Worldwide) Serves six
160g very best bitter chocolate
75g unsalted butter, diced
1tsp instant coffee powder or granules
50ml boiling water
3 eggs, separated
30g caster sugar
For the moulds (optional)
20g unsalted butter
30g extra bitter chocolate, finely grated
200ml whipping cream
50g blanched pistachios, chopped
Prepare the base for the mousse and biscuits: On a low heat, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or in a bain-marie with the diced unsalted butter. Stir from time to time. Cool slightly.
Mix the coffee powder or granules with the cocoa and dilute with the boiling water. Cool, then add the egg yolks, and stir until you have a perfect mix. Reserve. On a medium speed, beat the egg whites to form soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat at a fast speed until firm peaks are achieved.
Whisk the egg yolk, coffee and cocoa mixture into the melted chocolate butter. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Do not try to achieve a perfect mix. Chill for at least one hour or up to three hours maximum.
Bake the chocolate biscuit: Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Place 1/2tsp of the chocolate mixture into each corner of the baking tray and place the sheet of greaseproof paper securely on top. This holds the paper on to the tray.
Take about a quarter to one-third of the chocolate mousse mixture and spread it on the paper, to about 14cm x 21cm in area and about 5mm thick. Return the rest of the mixture to the fridge. Cook the mixture in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or, if you want a very dry biscuit, for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on a cooking rack and allow to cool. Peel off the paper carefully.
To prepare the moulds, place the moulds in the fridge or freezer. When cold, spread the insides generously with the butter. Keep at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, then cover the insides with grated chocolate and cocoa.
To assemble the dessert, with a cutter, carefully cut out six rounds of chocolate biscuit: if using the rings, cut the biscuit to the same diameter as the rings, if not cut to 7-8cm in diameter and delicately detach them with a palette knife. The biscuit is very fragile, so proceed with great care.
If you are not using the rings, fill the piping bag with the chilled chocolate mixture. Place the chocolate biscuit rounds on a tray. Pipe the chocolate mousse mixture on to each biscuit, starting from the middle and moving in a circular motion up to 1cm from the edge of the biscuit and 2cm high. Freeze the layered desserts on the tray for at least one hour, until firm.
If using the rings, place them on a tray, place a round of biscuit in the bottom of each and spoon in the chocolate mixture two-thirds up the height of the ring. Freeze as above.
To finish and serve, pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly whip the cream and chill. Remove the chocolate desserts from the freezer and cook in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes (20 minutes if using the rings).
Divide the whipped cream between six dessert plates and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Remove the desserts from the oven (and the rings, if used). Arrange on the cream.